Terrell residents will get a final shot at making their views known about the planned rezoning of much of the city’s downtown area during a public hearing that begins at 5:30 p.m. on June 23 at Furlough Middle School, 1351 Colquitt Road.

City staff will entertain questions about the new rezoning proposal at City Hall on June 22 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Mayor Rick Carmona has stated what he believes is the importance of the 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.”

City Manager Mike Sims told The Terrell Tribune last week that he believes many of the objections people had to an earlier rezoning proposal have been addressed.

“Some of the differences are in the rulebook, and some of the differences are in the map,” explained Sims. The city already has addressed rules in regard to single-family structures. Some people had concerns that under previous rules, a house left unoccupied for a period of time could be considered a nonconforming property and subject to stringent new standards were it to be reoccupied.

 “We now have rules that allow a single-family structure to perpetually be a single-family structure,” Sims explained.

One element of the map change involves a block between Delphine Street and State Hwy. 34 currently zoned as light industrial. People in general want to see light industrial zoning eliminated from the Downtown District. So instead of having a strip of light industrial zoning along Hwy. 34, the new map takes downtown zoning all the way to the west side of Hwy. 34.

Also, the new map has the Downtown District beginning at Rockwall on the west and the State Hwy. 34 bridge on the east.

“We reduced the edges on Moore a little bit,” said Sims. The state highways provide a good break point, said Sims. Also, the city needs to reanalyze zoning on Hwy. 80 east and west of the downtown. “We’ll do those as separate planning efforts in the future,” said Sims.

Another extension of the Downtown District is at the intersection of Grove Street and Rockwall Avenue. Under the old map, only a portion of the intersection was in the Downtown District. With the proposed new map, the entire intersection would be in the district.

Another change involves several existing townhouses, which will stay under existing zoning. The new map also adds a sliver of property for townhouses between the Downtown District and single-family residential.

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. 

If Downtown District rezoning is ultimately approved by the City Council, the ball will be in the private sector’s court, according to Sims.

“Once we have zoning in place, now it’s the private sector’s turn,” said Sims. “All of these landowners will have to look at the new zoning and they’ll have to think it through. There may be new things they can do with their property that they could not do before. Do I want to make an investment? Do I want to sell it? Do I want to rehab this building? Remember, there are several buildings in this area that can’t be used right now because light industrial (zoning) prevents their use.”

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