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Round Rock drafts its first land development code

Tuesday, December 13, 2016 by Syeda Hasan

It’s no secret that development is booming in Austin and its surrounding suburbs. Just north of Austin, the city of Round Rock is working to accommodate that growth by creating its first-ever land development code.

One might think of the code as a rule book for new construction. It is a city document that guides every aspect of development, from parking requirements to how tall buildings can be. In Round Rock, many regulations governing land development are already in place, but they are buried within the city’s broader Code of Ordinances.

According to Brad Wiseman, director of Round Rock’s Planning and Development Services Department, the new code aims to organize those rules into one cohesive document.

“It’s a consolidation of all the development regulations into one area,” Wiseman said. “There will be no rezoning of any existing property with this process. We are, however, developing some new zoning districts.”

Wiseman said that those new districts will be designed to offer more flexibility to future developments. Take residential subdivisions, for example. Currently, the city’s code allows developers to build either large- or standard-sized homes in a single project. If they want to do both, the project requires a special zoning designation called a planned unit development, or PUD. The process for a PUD takes longer and can cost thousands of dollars more.

The proposed land code would add a new type of zoning, Single-Family 3, that would allow for a mix of large-and standard-sized lots without requiring a PUD designation.

“It’s a really good principle to have the mix of lot sizes, because then you also develop a mixed-income neighborhood, and it provides for a better community and better neighborhood at the end of the day,” Wiseman said.

Beyond single-family homes, the new code would also allow for taller buildings up to eight stories in the downtown area near Interstate 35. The current code limits those buildings to just three stories.

“With the growth that we’ve been experiencing, with the growth that we’re going to continue to experience, there’s recognition of market realities, of what people are looking for,” said Round Rock Mayor Alan McGraw.

The draft code is currently being reviewed by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission before it heads to City Council. The next public hearing on the code is set for Dec. 21 at Round Rock City Hall Chambers.

Photo by Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News. This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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