My Rowlett
My Rowlett

Episode 8 · 1 month ago

My Rowlett - Recode Rowlett

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The City of Rowlett is embarking on a journey to Recode Rowlett! If you ever wanted to know more about Zoning and Code in Rowlett, this episode is for you.

In this episode of My Rowlett, Host Hannah Rabalais sits down with Alex Koenig and Jade Broadnax to talk about the Recode Rowlett project and survey! The Recode Rowlett Survey is live until November 4! All citizens are encouraged to take the survey here: https://www.recoderowlett.com/survey

So what is the Recode Rowlett project about? The City of Rowlett is updating its development regulations. The goal of Recode Rowlett is to unify the City's two existing development regulations—the Rowlett Development Code (RDC) and Form-Based Code (FBC)—into one user-friendly document that will help the City meet its land-use goals. To learn more, listen to this episode or visit: https://www.recoderowlett.com/

If you have any questions, please reach out to the Recode Rowlett team here: https://www.recoderowlett.com/contact

If you wish to suggest a topic, guest, or have a question- Please email Hannah Rabalais at podcast@rowlett.com or reach out online:

rowlett.com/podcast

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https://www.linkedin.com/company/city-of-rowlett/

You don't want to zone out during this conversation because we're talking about zoning and code and Rowlett, let's take a peek into the past before we dive into this conversation. They flocked to the only polling place in Roulette today. Residents concerned with the skyrocketing growth of their small town. Six years ago, three thousand people lived here, now fourteen thousand call Rowlet at home. It needs to go all right, but it don't need to go going because they can't put here for the people. Rowlett is caught between eras with big city traffic on Highway sixty six and new shopping centers ready for tenants. Are you experiencing deja vu? Because we've been here before, Rowlett, So, how are we going to balance the hometown phil and the growth that every city in the d W metroplex is experiencing. Well. On this episode of the my Rale podcast, I have here with me today Jade broad Next and Alex kaneg and we're going to discuss exactly how we're going to try to keep that balance. And they're also here to promote the Recode Routlet survey. So before we dive into the conversation. I would love if y'all could introduce yourselves. Jade, do you want to kick us off? Sure, my name's Jade Broad. Next, I'm a senior planner for the City of Roulet in community development. So where were you before Routlet, Like, what are some of your background? Well, I am a planner by trade, that's my entire professional career. So prior to Routlet, which I've been here a year now, just a little bit over a year, I was in consulting, working for a private engineering firm called Kimbley Horn In case anyone's interested, they do a lot of city works, so a lot of people actually have Yeah, I've seen him at a few council meetings here and there. Yeah. Yes, So I was doing planning work over there for a small team, so long range, comprehensive planning, the vision for how cities should grow over the next couple of decades, small area plans, a lot of work in the metroplex actually, and then prior to that, I was working for the city of College Station where Texas A and M is So yeah, awesome. So you've been...

...around the block. You've been planning a lot of a lot of plants, doing a lot of plans, do a lotting and play as perfect Alex. What about you? So, I've been with the city for about two and a half years, two of those years as the planning Urban Design Manager, so oversee the current planning development for for the city. That team is one of my teams, and the other team would be the long range team for the neighborhood planning and overseeing our comprehensive plan with with that. So, prior to being here, I was in a little walk, Arkansas. So I've got a history in two cities in Arkansas. Indiana is home for me and also where I've worked in a couple of cities there as well. And then in the earlier part of my career, I worked to hear in the Metroplex over in Garland. Okay, wow, it's our next door neighbors correct. Awesome. I'm so excited to have you both here on the show. And so I want to kick it off. What is its only? Exactly? Like? Why should people even care about this topic? Who's first? Whose first? Yes? Big topic, big question. Well, we will try to we will keep it some. So. Zoning basically separates the city into zones or districts, which talk which talk about and govern regulate the types of uses that might occur in such a zone. And then also how those uses are put into buildings and structures and in the way of height restrictions and setbacks from streets and other properties. Got you, and how they might look exactly exactly. It's the rule book for for how development happens. Okay, perfect, And I think we have a I don't know if you want to bring it out now, but we have this what is it called, sorry, box city box cities, So it's going to help explain a little bit visually what zoning is. So it looks like Jay brought out her toys today. Yes, what is this? So for those who are listening, we have this box city here with different colors. Definitely watched the episode on YouTube. Will post a picture somewhere that you can access. But this is such an interesting like a bakery, a juice and yoga place. What is this?...

Okay? So this is something that I actually created to try and help primarily kids understand what zoning is. When we've been out and about in the community, like at the farmer's market and things like that, because we've got the neighborhood planning tent and people are like, what do you even do? Like what is your role in the city, And so trying to tie in some of the events that we do into the more development heavy decisions, more of the administrative things that touch on Alex's team in development review, this has been a helpful guide. So, as Alex mentioned, zoning is really the classification. It's the subdivision of land and the classification of land into different uses, so it determines what gets built where and uses get consolidated into each zoning district. So you'll see the map of Routlet that's got a bunch of different colors on it, and each of those colors is a zoning district. So I've simulated here what would be like a business distect. So if you're seeing it on YouTube, you can see here it's got a little business district sign in the middle, and the types of uses that you would typically see in that type of area are going to be what we call commercial uses, So it's it's businesses for the most part. And so there are standard colors that get used pretty much nationwide by all planners across all municipalities that tie each use to its classification. So red is commercial. As you can see here. I see that lily Ons is on red. I know her. I didn't have seen her a while. I guess she opened what is it a fruit stand or something. Yeah, Lilyana made a little like coffee shop. I think yer making that. Yeah, So that's an example of a use that would be found in like a zoning code in a table, like if you wanted to build something in a business district, like a like a coffee shop, you don't want to make sure that it's listed in the chart, so it's in the red category. Some other businesses that we have, I made a fruit stand and it goes in the red category because it's a commercial use. Some there are things we have some mixed uses that are allowed in certain zoning...

...districts, so you can have more than just businesses. You might be able to have some type of homes or a larger green space or something. So residential areas homes are yellow. So we had Hannah in emergency management made a little doghouse for yes, spot on the top, so cute. And then like a little garden because we are a b city and we do pollinat our gardens. Here right, and that's in green. So what is green Maine brain is pretty much open space. Sometimes you'll see that it's floodplains, so protected areas and developed on or have very heavy restrictions, or our parks that the Parks Department owns and maintains. So that type of thing, I think Box City was so perfect to show our listeners. So please please please go look on YouTube if you're listening on whatever podcast platform you are. But I love that visual representation. So my next question is why should someone care about zony? You know, I'm thinking especially about myself being just an average citizen. I'm not building something new, I'm not starting a business. You know, I've lived here forever. Why should I care about zoning? I understand fully that zoning is something that is off. It makes people's eyes gloss over. It can being pretty administrative a lot of the time. It's very in the weeds. But and you're you're right. You see a lot of people who are more well versed in development who are actually building things, engineers, architects, home builders, that type of thing, who are working very closely with the development code and the zoning code on a regular basis. But the average citizen does touch zoning every day, whether or not that's realized. So a lot of the things that neighbors, visitors, business owners even maybe recognize that they like about a place. Things that make a sense of place, as planners like to call it, are a lot of the times dictated by zoning standards. So if you go into a thriving downtown, whether that's Roulett...

...as we're trying to build that or bring cities in the Metroplex, there's certain standards that get codified that can create a feel that's comfortable, particularly for the community at what we call a pedestrian scale, So making sure that buildings have a inviting storefront, like a first floor that is built to their height, wider sidewalks pleasing to the eye, building materials, open spaces, and kind of front facades that invite people to really meet one another, have a space to gather and to exchange ideas, goods and services. Those are things that all get set with a standard, whether that's linear feet that a building is set back from the road or connected trails and things like that that we can require of development to come in. And so for the average person, I would say, if there's a place that you like, try and pay attention to those elements that make it feel safe, comfortable, and attractive to you, and really just put your two cents in as to why you like those things or if you have the opposite kind of sentiment, there's places that feel unsafe, you don't think they're attractive. Well, zoning can kind of answer a lot of those concerns by creating standards that solve those problems. So, yeah, you have the ability to kind of leave a legacy for how things change over time to make them safe, comfortable, and attractive. Okay, that's cool. Yeah, I love that. That's so helpful. I'm like, oh, okay, I now care about zoning perfect perfect And it's that. And it's also cities don't happen by accident, and so if you want to get the city in the community that you want, you have to give guidance. But in this case, it's actual regulations that say you can only do this or you must do this at a minimum on that and you may not do these things as well. So that's what zoning also does. Why people should care about that, because again, if you care about Roulette and what it is currently and what you're hoping it to become you need to set those parameters forward in the zoning code so so that it happened. It is...

...because it just developers are not evil. They're not bad people. But developers have a development program that they want to do that they feel as worked in other communities and other places. But they need to know what Roulette wants to have so that it can be specific to Routlet. And that's why we have a different zoning code than what Rockwell does. We have a different code than than Garland or Wildly. Of course they have similar elements. We were found by state law what we can and cannot do to some extent, and so in order to create that character that is uniquely Routlet, that is why we have the existing zoning codes as well as why we're embarking upon this new code, so that we can can continue with where we've been, but then also make those adjustments to address the current in future emerging trends. Well, that was a perfect segue. Heck yeah, great answer, high five. I love that. That is a perfect segue. So you're here to talk about why we are recoding Roulet, So why is that you just explain to our listeners why we've embarked on this seemingly several year journey. Sure, so I I alluded to that, I actually mentioned it. We have somewhat unique situation here and Routlet. We have two different zoning codes and won't go too much into the details, but one of it is a more standard code that really is about separating uses and being very use driven to separate out that you don't have the factory next door to your home. Kind of the over oversimplified, but really the big concern if if that zoning has historically is to make sure that single family neighborhoods are quiet places of enjoyment for the for the most part, separated off from the industrial uses and commercial uses that can sometimes you know, intrude upon your ability to hang out and enjoy a quiet life away from from your work and from that. So that's most of the city, and most of is still governed under what's called the Routlete Development Code back and that was put into place, this iteration of the code in two thousand six.

Since then, the is trending again, so is irrelevant. Yes, So the world has changed a lot and Rotlett has changed a lot since two thousand six, and so first of all, it's up to an update for for that. The second zoning code that we have is called our form based code, and it is more concerned about the look, the feel, the form and character of an area, and so much of the areas that are have developed recently and are redeveloping, such as the downtown and then also the surround the Bush Turnpike as well as over by the hospital are areas that are are regulated under that form based code that really take more of a cue from creating a specific environment and being less concerned about what uses go on there because that architectural standard or mantra out there of form follows function is kind of what they go with in in in this form based code, if you set up the physical environment for certain conditions, certain uses don't make sense there and physically cannot happen right on there. So that code was adopted back in two thousand twelve, so it's a younger code as as well, but even it has some things that need some adjusting. And the other part to that is the two codes don't work well together um as as as well, and so the recode Roulette project is intended to integrate those two codes into a singular code. But integrate may not be the best way to do, but to the result will be one single code. Gotcha. And the do you see in our kind of preliminary conversations, do you see more cities going more towards form based code versus the code we've previously've had, Like, are there is that a trend like to do more form based? Well, so it totally depends. Okay,...

...a lot of what we're doing right now with recode Roulette is public input. So some of the principles from what we currently have in the form based code are things that are more tied to kind of architectural standards, urban design principles. So I don't want the term form based to seem like it's a scary thing for Roulette. It's in very specific areas right now. And so in moving towards consolidating the two codes together, the idea is to borrow the best parts from each of them, and that's what we're seeing from our stakeholder advisory group, and which is assembled of development professionals, elected appointed officials, neighborhood leaders, nonprofit leaders who have a lot of experience with developing or experiencing development in Roulette over time are saying UM is going to be, you know, probably the way to go. So it's not necessarily that, you know, every city in the metroplex is going towards this very strict urbane form based type of thing. It's really taking elements of maybe some of those principles and listening to really what the people want and what's going to be relevant and sustainable for Routlet in particular, and finding a happy medium. So okay, and so that's why y'all built the recode roulet dot com website and you're asking people to take the survey exactly right. So also, you know, an answer to your question as to whether form based codes are becoming more popular, I think what is starting to gain more traction is sort of a riff off the form based code type of thing called character based codes, which really talk about more about the look the field, the character of the community that you're trying to maintain and or encourage as well. And I think from where I'm sitting right now, I think that's where the direction that that Roulette will will likely go down is to try to figure out what is the care character here,...

So we do character characters. Yes, yes, but also I mean even in the video intro, we're seeing you know, these trends develop over time, they change over time. But what's important and kind of what you are like saying earlier Alex about you know, we are different from rock Wall, We're different cities in the metroplexes. That it's important to stay true in a way to what Roulette is and the best way to do that is to hear from people as you know, as robust as we can, hopefully getting a lot of um responses to survey and not abandoning kind of where we started from, but then inviting in you know, appropriate amount of growth and the character that comes with that. Okay, so everyone who even who just people who just live here can take this survey. So can you walk us through like some of maybe some of the questions that will be potentially asked, like what or I guess they're being asked right now. It's live right now, But what can people expect when they take the survey? Real quick? Yeah, so I can actually pull it up on recode roulette dot com. There's a link right on the homepage straight to the survey and all questions are optional, but a lot of it is catered towards those who may not have any experience with developing anything in Roulette. It really asked you a lot of questions about just the kind of the character of Roulette. Do you think development look nice? Do you think they provide enough parking, our buildings well designed? Do you agree the extent to which you degree or agree? And you know if you want to go in depth with more of those specific answers. There's no limit to the textbox. So fired to fire away, you know, take it from Facebook to here exactly. This is where you put all the information you want them to read on this survey. Awesome, and then we'll turn it over to our social media manager to review all that stuff. So how...

...many questions and how long will this survey take someone? Roughly, there's like twelve questions, and it really depends on how much detail you want to go. Okay, there's nine questions questions. It's honestly not that long, but we would appreciate detailed answers if you're willing and able to give them. So on the higher end, maybe twenty minutes. And that might be like an engineer who submits projects to Alex's team for in depth review and has very specific things to say. Or if you're just a neighbor who has never submitted anything, you could come in here and answer one question and click a button and be done kind of thing. So it's as long or short as you wanted to be. When does a survey close? So there's only a couple of weeks left to submit your answers. Yeah, it's up through November four, which is a Friday, So try and get those answers in before then and share it. Recommend that everybody share it within all of their networks. Ben if it seems like a bit of an annoying plug, like maybe r I don't know, happy hour or something, and somebody's talking about their neighbor, and I'll get the next round of questions when you're sitting at bankhead like, Hey, I noticed you're waiting for your table. Do you want to talk about development trends? Maybe I don't mean it seems interesting to me. Hey you sound smarter at the dinner table. Yeah, okay, well that is awesome. So the survey closes November four, what will happen after that? So this will be helping to inform our consulting team Clarion Associates that we are working with to come up with the meat of their diagnostic of our existing codes as well as where the community is when it comes to development and and such, to give recommendations towards what types of things we should be focusing on in developing the new Outlet Development Code. It's so that is an a report that...

...we're anticipating getting back in the next couple of months. Yeah, okay for for that that will be again a publicly reviewed document. Again, because this, even though staff will be working with administrating this, it's the city's code, right, So what is publicly reviewed mean exactly? Is it that advisory it's going on the web page, it's going beyond the advisory group, correct, Okay, so everyone can look at it. We'll have it'll be able to look at it and provide feedback and commentary on that, and then after that will be I think they're probably already working somewhat on the nuts and bolts of the code so to speak, but they call we're calling them modules. There will be three different modules that will again be parts developed for discussion consideration. First will be the zoning districts and what they might look like because currently we have a long list of of of the districts, I kind of jokingly say we only need to have like like Jade was talking earlier with the standard colors of of the land uses, we only need to have four zoning districts. It's probably an exaggeration, will happen it right now our current sale in planning, because we currently have and the way of just single family residential zoning districts the range of five thousand score foot lots, which there's not many of those, up to two acre lots basically with I think three or four different maybe more between there of of different mandatory minimum lot sizes in there. And so but but anyhow, so the first will be to talk about what the zoning districts that will have in there, and in a little bit about the particular uses that might be allowed in there. Then the next phase would be the next module would then be the development standards. So then to talk more about things like what the setbacks or heights should be for for these or the density that should be allowed within residential districts, and how much parking should be...

...required for for uh for for particular type of of use, and also making sure that we have latest and greatest in the way of uses. I don't know if since I've been doing this work for twenty five years. It's kind of funny in working in some older, even older zoning codes, they still talk about haberdasheries and dress shops, as you said, printing shops and butcher shops. Some of those things that have come and gone. Maybe they're making a comeback. I mean, I kind of hope someday that we'll have a whole bunch of artisan makers of things here and routlets. Some we will get the haberdashery to make to make a comeback. Now we're having like the issue of like all these drone delivery services that are like we don't have a use in your code. We can't even really know how to move forward kind of things. So it's like, you know, emerging trends. Those things will get addressed and a part of kind of the third phase of everything. And overall all the project phases are broken down on the website on dot com, So if anybody wants to see the big chunks of time, those will be on there too, gotcha. Yeah, So it looks like I'm we're looking at the website right now. So we have fall do is the code assessment. So that's where we are now, and then when three Wow, so like a full year in this phase okay, and that's draft code. Wow. Okay, that's way you're just just talking about. And then September adoption spring. I'm so sorry you would think I could see that my classes on. Wow. So this is quite a lengthy process. Yeah, it takes a long time because it has to be well vetted. This thing doesn't get updated frequently. It shouldn't anyway, it should work when you put it in place, and it shouldn't get updated that often, not to this extent. So because it's such a big project, we have to make sure that all...

...of the appropriate people are looking at each draft as it comes through. And Alice can speak to this. I mean I have experience in development review myself. Even just one project, reviewing it against the code can take, you know, weeks, So tying things to very specific you know, words or sentences that are in there compared to hundreds of pages that are legally binding, it's it takes a long time. So wow, I meant my brain hurt yep. So, at its core, a zoning ordinance is a legal document. So the two lead consultants, they are both legal professional lawyers, lawyers, lawyers and planners as as as well. And and so the last part of our code is as well, will be process in there. And that's also another one of those things. We need to be sure that we've we've recently made some changes to some procedural things, but we need to make sure or that we're staying in line with the state code. We do that, however, our code doesn't necessarily get updated to reflect that as as as well. So, but process wise, process is important. Process is important, Yes, if it is riveting information. If anybody wants to look at the zoning code over a nice cup of hot chocolate, let me know if we can, oh, man, the lot chalk. Sorry you got a spice up zone. Not just boring hot chocolate either, we can we can figure out some different hot chocolates. Yeah, there you go. Awesome. Well, is there anything else that y'all think it is important around the zoning topic, just to empower our citizens to feel like I actually know something now about our zoning code or what we're moving forward into. Is there something that we haven't touched on? I have one? Oh, I have one that would be to drive around the city and look around at different developments and see which...

...ones you like um and trying to find different ones. So there's all corners of roulette that may not be explored. I think some of the bigger, more popular places people are aware of might be like a water view or downtown or what is water view coded? As I think I was surprised with the answer. The water View development is what it's called a plan development district and not just one plan development district but multiple plan development district. So it has a special zoning code that was created specifically for for that. And that does also touch upon another reason why we're updating this. This code is any change that comes in for zoning typically is a plan development. It is specific to that. So it speaks to that we have a code that is not functioning as it should in the way of you want things to either be able to develop that like we say, is the plan and the planning world by right that they don't have to go for public hearings because the zoning is already in place for that and they meet all the standards well. Because we also say around the office, most not most, the easy stuff and Roulette has all been done, so we you know, Jade also mentioned driving around the city, we don't have the large hundred plus acres of land great interest to the typical home builders. Um. And then this is something that came clear to meet in a meeting a couple of years back when we were talking about a twenty acre parcel and they said, well, that's just really an infill piece of property, and it's like that's a big piece of land for Roulett. But it is true with how we're seeing the regional real estate market of what type of community and what type of properties that we have, which then talks about what type of development that that we are attractive to. So part of the you know, the code is certainly primarily make sure that we are getting...

...the kind of development that that the citizens of Roulette are wanting, but then also to make it so it's not so difficult for developers and staff to to make to make their way through, right because we're almost built out. So I feel like you'll have a lot of pressure on yourselves like okay, we only have a certain amount of land that we can develop on or redevelop right, and you hit redevelopment as well. Our code is not particularly well set up for redevelopment development earlier and Phil okay, okay, yeah for that. So you know, I think the other thing about about zoning that that we want people to understand is it is put in place to to accomplish a purpose, and we need and I think we need to be very clear about what that what that purpose is. We have zero people on my team that are looking to be heavy handed rule enforcers and to have gotcha moments, gotcha hey, you're fine, You're fine, or are well we thought we were, you know, you thought you were going to get approved on this, but let's pull the rug out on you on uh yeah, we don't want to take So we we again are are doing the work of the citizens of the city and and so we have to be sure that that we are doing what we can to make the process as easy and transparent as as we can for everybody. A part of that is the code, part of it's also processed. Part of it's also those other communication tools application forms and such, and public hearings and those parts of things that those parts will also come under scrutiny and improvements as as well. That so, so that again, we are not looking to blindside anybody in the process of of as the city develops, and to be fair and inequitable and u transparent. Wow, high five, I love the little high five to user guy here. So read code Roulets...

...gonna address all of those things, the processes, everything, and so we hopefully will see something easier, more transparent, more equitable. They're also like you you mentioned you loved to box City being a good visual Um, anybody who goes through our current Roulet development code will not see much in the way of visuals, just words and words, right, and that's not how people communicate much any anymore, and so that will have I don't remember if they have anything on the recode Roulet site yet about draft codes. Uh some something that looks pretty Oh yes, that's something that's come up several times as making it user friendly. It's right on the homepage. So yeah, it says making regulations more user friendly because these ones lack illustrations and graphics, so okay, easier to read and understand by having supportive imagery a big goal. Yeah, there there was there was no sketch up, there was no was there photoshop In two thousand six, okay, but there's no excuse there Canva wasn't really a thing, you know, So there we've got better tools to do. That's true, is true back then then what we did in two thousand six, and so we are looking to fully utilize that and also to utilize color cutting edge, right cutting edge, color branching out of the PA. It's like we're making a movie in nineteen We're going to utilize some color. Wow, that's exciting, very nice. Yeah, awesome. Well, is there anything else that you want to share with their listeners? Yes, please take the survey. Please take the survey, and stay up to date by looking at the website. That's where everything's going to be posted. It is the hub. So just go to recode roulette dot com Perfect, And is...

...there like a newsletter or something people can sign up for to stay up to date or just keep on checking back at recode roulet dot com to see there's a contact form on the web page. But you know, general updates will just get posted straight on the website Perfect, and we're gonna be sharing them on social media as well here and we'll probably have another kind of touch point podcast episode. So, hey, where are we on the recode Roulet Plan, so stay tuned, y'all. Well, oh, Margod, thank you guys so much. Like I was really kind of nervous going into this conversation. I was like, oh, zoning, it's such a big topic. But hopefully y'all learn something. Hopefully we made it more you know, equitable, more easier to understand. So thank you guys so much for being on the show, and thank you all so much for listening. Make sure to follow us on social media pages and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform, and we always will have links to in the show notes below, so make sure to check those out to have a great day, Roulette.

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