Keeping Up Appearances While Easing Restrictions

Do you like the look of the new College Station Lowe’s?  Ever wonder why the College Station Walmart Super Center looks better than Walmarts located elsewhere?  Have you noticed that businesses in College Station seem to have more stone on them, attractive signage, and an abundance of landscaping?

None of these are by accident or coincidence.  They are the result of a decade-long effort by the city to improve the appearance of the community through development regulations.  The city’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) establishes minimum standards for such items as building materials, building design, parking lot landscaping and signage design.  Such ordinances are fairly common in cities throughout Texas to ensure new development is high-quality and contributes positively to community appearance and the local tax base. 

As with any ordinance, it’s important to routinely evaluate its success and weaknesses and to make adjustments accordingly.  The UDO is no exception.  In addition to an annual review, periodic focused UDO reviews are occasionally conducted.  Recently, the mayor convened a small group of business and development representatives to identify their concerns with the UDO.  Based on their input and following public hearings and community meetings, the city council instructed staff to prepare a number of amendments to the development regulations, particularly those focused on development aesthetics, to help make city regulations more business-friendly. 

The items the council is considering include design requirements for small accessory commercial buildings (such as commercial pool houses), color restrictions on signs along entry corridors, regulations on the number and location of signs placed within a large commercial development, design requirements for small commercial buildings that are part of a large commercial development, and color restrictions on commercial buildings.  The staff and council are working with various interest groups to ensure these changes continue the city’s commitment to high-quality development while acknowledging the need to relax standards that are either accomplishing little or have proven to be unnecessary impediments to new development.

The first of these ordinance changes is scheduled for a public hearing before the council on Thursday (April 28), with others to be presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission at their meeting on May 5 and then to council in late May or early June. For more information about the proposed changes, call 979.764.3570.

Bob Cowell
Bob Cowell
Director | Planning & Development Services
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