City Council amends downtown development ordinance to limit “bars,” loosen height restrictions

Height restrictions in MU-2 were amended allowing up to eight stories adjacent to I-35

Approved on a second, and final, reading at an April 13 meeting of the Round Rock City Council, changes to the local downtown development ordinance will work to help balance area business types and retain the welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere the district is known for.

Aside from modifications that largely impact the development community in relation to processes and requirements they experience when developing a property, there are two significant aspects of the adjusted code that residents should be aware of:

  • Mixed-use district downtown — or MU-1 — zoning was amended to restrict the number of “bars” to not more than twelve total in the entire district, not more than four on any single city block and not more than two on any single side of one block. The amendment defines a bar as “any establishment serving alcohol and not having a commercial kitchen.” The amendment also establishes that a “commercial kitchen” consist of “a minimum of a three-compartment sink, commercial range and appropriate exhaust and fire suppression devices,” and be used for the daily preparation of food. Establishments where the primary façade exceeds 100 feet, will be counted as two. A total of ten downtown businesses are currently considered “bars” under this definition.
  • Height restrictions in MU-2 were amended allowing up to eight stories adjacent to I-35, up to four stories for properties along the west side of Mays Street and up to six stories in between. Height limitations east of Mays Street remain the same as before with a maximum of three stories allowed.

These changes will allow downtown to continue its evolution into a destination where individuals can entertain a variety of experiences, while staying true to the authentic character and hometown charm that make the area unique.

“The cap on bars is not necessarily as much a noise issue,” Mayor McGraw said, “as it is a character issue.”

All amendments were recommended by City staff and approved by Council with future development of the historic district in mind, and were part of a larger initiative to update the City’s entire Development Code which will more comprehensively shape Round Rock’s built environment for years to come. Public input, including hearings and solicitation of online feedback, has played a significant role through to this stage in the project and opportunities for the public to provide feedback will continue to be made available at appropriate intervals.

Video of meeting proceedings at which amendments were approved is available on the City’s website.

More information on the Development Code update, including detailed project explanations and timeline, can also be found online:



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