The City of Terrell is sending letters to impacted property owners this week as part of a multi-step process to update zoning standards on properties surrounding downtown Terrell.
Some property owners will be impacted directly because the zoning of the land they own will change, while others will simply fall into the notification zone because nearby zoning will change.
A public hearing on the rezoning plan is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. June 23 at Furlough Middle School, 1351 Colquitt Road. The proposed rezoning is a modified version of an earlier plan that was the subject of community input. City staff will entertain questions about the new rezoning proposal at City Hall from 10 a.m. until noon on June 9; on June 11 and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.; on June 15 from 10 a.m. to noon; and on June 22 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
All of the zoning changes were first recommended by the city's recently updated Downtown Plan and Comprehensive Plan that were created after a lengthy series of public input opportunities in 2017. Council approved the Downtown Plan in December of 2017. The Comprehensive Plan, approved by council in January of 2018, includes land use recommendations throughout the city. In the downtown and near downtown areas, many of those recommendations were created to be consistent with the Downtown Plan.
The goal of the Comprehensive Plan is to transition land uses around the downtown area from industrial and other heavy commercial operations to more pedestrian and family friendly uses. The Comprehensive Plan and Downtown Plan aim to revitalize downtown and near downtown areas through a variety of initiatives. From small-scale fun like the Terrell Taco Festival, to major new railroad safety projects, the intent is to make downtown Terrell a safe and enjoyable place where land uses are consistent with the community's goals for downtown.
One of the initiatives for guiding this transition is to encourage investment in areas that are close to downtown but zoned for industrial or commercial uses. The community has consistently been opposed to industrial and commercial uses that conflict with existing residences near downtown. This proposed rezoning is a first step in correcting that problem. The proposed rezoning will remove allowances for new industrial and commercial uses and instead allow a variety of uses including retail, office, medical, restaurants, civic and residential opportunities.
Cities in Texas are required to study long-term trends and long-term goals and to establish a Land Use Plan in their Comprehensive Plan. The 2018 Comprehensive Plan established the vision for a unified downtown with City blocks spreading out in each direction of Moore Avenue all having equal zoning to allow for equal development opportunities.
Mayor Rick Carmona stated the importance of this proposed rezoning: "I want every part of our community to have a fair shot at great redevelopment opportunities. As Kaufman County is now the fastest growing county in the United States and since we have the best, most historic downtown in the county, it is important that we take a proactive approach to zoning issues. We shouldn't wait and hope that no new industrial is located along Grove, Cottage or Rochester streets. We should eliminate zoning that hurts our community and put in place zoning that helps us develop a unified, family friendly downtown. When new growth and new investment arrive in Terrell, they need to find a set of development rules that promotes the results our community wants to see."
Properties subject to rezoning are allowed to continue operations under State law that provides for legally nonconforming uses. This means those property owners have rights to continue their current operations indefinitely. Similarly, the City of Terrell proposal also provides an allowance for single-family residential structures to remain single-family residential structures for as long as the property owner desires. Churches are not regulated by zoning. The impact of zoning comes when an owner wants to build on vacant land, or change a use from an existing use to a new use. New structures and new uses will be required to follow the new zoning. In this way, State law allows an area, like those close to downtown Terrell, to change over time from uses that are not consistent with the long-term land use plan to uses that are consistent with the long-term land use plan.
Much of the land being considered for rezoning is in Councilwoman Mayrani Velazquez’s district.
"This rezoning is based on the community input from our 2017 planning efforts as well as community input from our December 2019 public hearings on downtown rezoning. We have continued listening to the community to craft this initiative and I am anxious to put in place zoning that will protect and enhance our downtown and the nearby neighborhoods. Until we change the current zoning, we face the threat of yet another scrap metal business locating in our downtown. Growth is happening too fast for us to wait and hope. We need to take action to align our zoning with our goals for our community: to promote quality of life, while enjoying a safe and vibrant downtown Terrell,” Velazquez said.
For more information, including a schedule of upcoming meetings on this topic, please visit the City of Terrell website at www.cityofterrell.org.
Source: City of Terrell