Mayor's Update: Proposed Zoning Map
By Mayor Rachel Lumpee
On May 20, 2021, the Planning and Zoning Commission held its first of two Town Hall meetings to unveil the new proposed zoning map. The Town Hall took place at the Old Blanco County Courthouse. The next Town Hall will take place at the Gem of the Hills at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 5.
Several citizens have questioned how and why this proposed map was created. During the Nov. 5, 2018, Planning and Zoning (P&Z), Mayor Martha Herden addressed the committee on Blanco’s current zoning map explaining that the current standing designation of “R” was implemented in 2006. At that time there was still undeveloped land within the city limits. “R” is defined as “any property within the City of Blanco that was not already zoned at the time of the November 7, 2006 UDC update was automatically zoned to the Existing-R Zoning District. As of the date of the 2019 UDC update, this is no longer considered an active Zoning District.” On the 2014 zoning map, all residential zoning was simply zoned “R.” In the proposed map, P&Z commissioners have updated all residential zoning to reflect the proper zoning. These include “R1,” “R2,” “R3,” “R4,” and “R5.” “R1” is the “low density residential district” that is “intended to retain a rural character while having the potential for urban growth and increased density,” and is typically farthest away from the city center. “R2” is the “density residential district” which is composed of mid-sized lots that allow for denser development; this zone provides further options for housing development in the city. “R3” is the “high density residential district” and the “smaller lots are intended to encourage a variety of housing options including affordable housing and duplex development under certain conditions and are typically nearest the city center.” “R4” is the “multifamily residential district” and is “the only residential district that permits more than two dwelling units per lot.” “R4” allows the occupation of smaller and more financially accessible dwelling units. At the June 3, 2019, P&Z meeting, the commission made a motion that all existing properties designated as “mixed-use” be reclassified to reflect their current use or as a new residential zone yet to be defined that allows other uses. On Oct. 8, 2019, David Smith, P&Z Chairman, told the city council that the commission was currently working on suggestions for reclassification of the zones in question, specifically the “mixed-use” zone. During the Sept. 9, 2019, P&Z meeting, a task force composed of Susan Moore, Trey Priour, and R.K. Seals was formed to investigate mixed-use (MX) zoning. The task force gathered information from other comparable cities to see how they use mixed-use zoning. MX was intended “…to encourage a mixture of uses that are compatible with a proportionate to each other and the surrounding uses. This includes a horizontal or vertical mix of residential and non-residential uses or a mix of nonresidential uses located on the same property.” The P&Z commission created a new zone, R5, to limit the number of Commercial uses that would interfere with a residential zone, so residents are not bothered by smells, noises, or other nuisances. “The High Density Residential- Transition (R5) incorporates the characteristics of the High Density Residential (R3) zone and is intended to serve as a transition, or buffer, zone between residential and nonresidential zones, particularly Commercial (C1) zones. In addition to residential uses, it provides for light commercial uses either in a mix with residential uses on the adjacent properties or in a mix on the same property... ” The City Council approved the creation of this “R5” zone during the Dec. 10, 2019, regular meeting. MX exists but is no longer active; R5 is not enforced until the zoning map is re-done to clarify where the newly named zone will be.
Several public hearings regarding the new zone took place. All meetings have been open to the public and the commission has encouraged citizen input throughout working on the proposed zoning map. There have also been several workshops during these past few years and the commissioners.