Revisions to development code approved by council
A series of revisions to the Allen Land Development Code was approved unanimously Tuesday by the Allen City Council.
The item, which was placed on the consent agenda, came on the heels of a May 1 approval by the planning and zoning commission.
Lee Battle, assistant director of planning and development, explained the changes at the commission's meeting shortly before the vote.
The revisions to the code are made from time to time, Battle said, to address changes in law, technology and development trends that may require specific addressing in the land code.
One such change has been the increase in the number of recreational entertainment businesses that do not comfortably fit into either the Indoor Commercial Amusement or Gymnastics/Dance Studio land uses, such as the Cosmic Jump trampoline center that opened this year.
The amendments to the code replace the Gymnastics/Dance Studio use with Dance/Martial Arts Center. In addition, the Gymnastics/Dance Studio has become Dance or Martial Arts Center.
"We've taken a look at that to try to reorganize how we classify those uses so we can break them out and then place them in the zoning districts where they make the most sense, where they're most compatible," Battle said.
Also in the realm of land uses, pawn shops, previously permitted under Shopping Center and General Business zoning or in Corridor Commercial with a Specific Use Permit, will now be permitted in General Business, Light Industrial and Heavy Industrial zoning.
The changes also removed a restriction prohibiting private clubs from being within 300 feet of a single-family residential area.
Under the city code, a "private club" is any business for which alcohol sales comprise more than 50 percent of total revenues.
"We have had a couple of situations where a restaurant, an existing facility that happens to be in a center within 300 feet of residential, wanted to consider changing to a private club and this provision prevented that from happening," Battle said.
The amendments also create a provision that allows "unique" uses to derive their parking requirement from a professional parking study rather than the firmer guidelines set by the code's table of parking requirements for established uses.
"That gives us a little more flexibility in dealing with unique uses," Battle said. "They know with that kind of a study what the parking demand is. We can look at that and if we decide it makes sense, we can set that as the parking requirement."
One of the more in-depth overhauls in the code relates to screening wall requirements. The code, as previously written, required an eight-foot masonry wall between different land uses and around dumpsters as an enclosure, but was vague on the details of how the walls have to be built. Though unofficial guidelines have been used in practice, more definition was needed in the code, Battle said.
From now on, split-face Concrete Masonry Units, or textured cinder block-style walls, may only be used for dumpster enclosures. Pre-cast concrete panels can be used in between uses, but not along roadways and brick-and-stone masonry walls may be used along roadways.
Further amendments would have limited the amount of signage allowed to be displayed at a business to no more than 25 percent of the surface of any window or 10 percent of the glass surface of any door. But the amendments were abandoned after council members expressed concern about the impact on businesses and "community feel" the during their April 24 workshop.
The amendments to the code became effective immediately after passage Tuesday night.