The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

October 25, 2012

Chamber of Commerce backs overlay zoning

FARMERSVILLE — A coalition of Greenville business leaders has expressed support for a plan to implement an overlay zoning district along the Interstate 30 corridor.

The board of directors of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce has issued a position statement, indicating the Chamber is in favor of the measure.

“The Overlay District was developed following considerable study by our City Planning Department as well as input from our citizens through participation in public meetings led by consultants and supported by the Planning and Zoning Commission,” said Chamber President and CEO Sally Bird. “We consider the Overlay to be an important step in developing Greenville in the manner in which our citizens have indicated is desirable.”

Local residents will have a chance tonight to learn more about the district. An information meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. today in the Fletcher Warren Civic Center.

The Chamber’s position statement said that the proposed district would a good step toward helping recruit favorable development along the corridor.

“Along with the yearning to be like those cities are comments about how these cities don’t have as many codes and ordinances as we do. This statement, in particular, we know to be incorrect,” the statement read. “Successful developers throughout the state of Texas and beyond will be the first to confirm that the kinds of retail we yearn for in Hunt County are the ones who are very particular about where they locate. They have no desire to erect a beautiful new building complete with pleasing landscape in an area without strict and, perhaps more important, strictly enforced codes. Developers know that a level playing field makes development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective.”

The district has been discussed considerably, as it was first proposed some eight years ago, was included under the Small Area Plan passed last year and has been the subject of two public hearings and three workshop meetings in the past year.

The new rules under the district would not immediately apply to existing businesses, but would to any future developments which locate along the corridor, stretching from the western city limits of Greenville eastward to 500 feet past Moulton Street.

The City Council was scheduled to adopt the plan in June, but tabled consideration of the district until after another workshop could be conducted.

The district was first proposed in the 2004 Comprehensive Plan.

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously in May to approve recommending establishment of the district to the Council.

The Commission and Council planned in January to conduct public hearings and take votes on the proposal. Instead, the Commission tabled its vote on the issue while the Council proceeded with its public hearing, but also delayed any vote until after the Commission voted whether to recommend the proposal.

The Chamber’s position statement points out that overlay zoning districts have been in place in Rockwall for years.

“Prior to 2004, the basics had been put into place. Five more overlay districts covering just about every major arterial in Rockwall were adopted in 2004, with similar standards and some additional landscaping requirements,” the statement explained. “In 2005, Rockwall’s requirements were tightened in all overlay districts requiring: 4-sided architecture; 20 percent natural/quarried stone; a minimum number of design features, such as canopies, arcades, outside dining, etc. This was done to support the belief that setting higher standards improves the value of the business property, the attractiveness of the area to the public, and the ultimate value to the community overall. As we know, contrary to such overlays stifling development, the market has been strong and continues to attract quality development.  Therefore, the Board of Directors of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce strongly recommends the City Council approve the proposed overlays in recognition that desirable communities do not result from laissez faire attitudes of allowing most anything most anywhere but by controlling growth and attracting the kinds of solid developers and businesses that desire to be a part of a city that knows how to grow.”