By Angie Bado, TSB Publisher
In what turned out to be a fairly routine joint meeting of McKinney City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday evening, Council unanimously approved the amendment to the code of ordinances by creating a section to govern zoning regulations for the McKinney Town Center. Council adopted the McKinney Town Center Master Plan in 2008.
The change in code alters the zoning in the Town Center from a use based zoning code, which separates zoning areas according to use, to a form based zoning code, or putting the form of the building first, resulting in areas of mixed-use development. Form based zoning focuses on urban form and less on land use, as well as streamlines and simplifies the zoning process, making the process for development easier.
The Town Center district includes properties that are generally east of Benge Street, west of Carver Street, south of Watt Street and North of Standifer Street, as well as the area generally east of McDonald Street, south of Elm Street, and west of of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Rail right-of-way.
Council approved, then adopted, the requested zoning amendment with the caveat that commercial property that is currently operating as nonconforming has the right to operate as such. If the property abandons its current use for 12 months or more, then the property would have to conform. (Section 146 of the proposed zoning amendment.)
Kevin Spath, Assistant Director of Planning for the city told council and P&Z that the purpose of the requested amendment is to spur economic revitalization including downtown living, shopping, dining, etc. by realizing the long term performance of rezoning approximately 216 parcels to the form based district. Spath also said that the city planning department has been analyzing form based zoning since 2010 and its intent is to help preserve and grow the downtown.
Although Spath said that notice of a public hearing for rezoning had been sent to all stakeholders, only one McKinney resident appeared before council to voice concern. Joe Joplin, who maintains a single family home within the targeted area expressed concern about the implications that the ordinance will have on his home because it will become a nonconforming structure. Joplin questioned if residents who have single family homes in this district will be able to enjoy their homes as they are.
“It’s a grandiose, great plan, maybe it’s good for the city, but I question it’s use since we have 160 years of history under current zoning. I don’t think this will be doable within 100 years,” Joplin said.
City staff said that they have made every effort to make certain there are no unintended consequences to single family homes, saying that the intended objective for single family properties is not to alter their current status.
As part of council’s questions to city staff, Councilman Don Day (Dist 1) raised concerns about the lack of adequate parking in the Town Center Master Plan, particularly in the immediate downtown area saying, “parking will continue to be an issue (in the Town Center district).”