Downtown Redevelopment

Upcoming meetings for Round Rock Downtown Master Plan

We will hold two public meetings over the next month on the Downtown Master Plan. The first will be an open house meeting from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12, and 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Jan. 13, in the Community Room at the McConico Building, 301 W. Bagdad Ave. The second will be a formal public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3, at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting at City Hall, 221 E. Main St.

The open house will provide an opportunity to review the latest significant updates to the Plan document and ask questions of City staff in an informal setting. The public hearing is an opportunity to provide direct input to the Planning and Zoning Commission prior to its vote on the Plan.

Our vision is to create a vibrant, walkable downtown district that offers distinctive shopping, dining, working and living opportunities. The Master Plan is needed to guide the policies and ordinances, infrastructure and open space improvements, and financing options crucial to the orderly development and economic viability of a resurgent urban core.

Here are the issues brought up most recently regarding the plan:

Property rights
Some concerns we’ve heard since last January are about potential changes in the Flat, the neighborhood between Mays and Lewis streets south of Brushy Creek. There is nothing in the Plan that will force anyone to sell their home to make way for new development like condos or apartments. If you want your home to stay a single-family residence, then it will stay that way. You control what happens to your property.

That said, neighboring properties in the Flat may change. One of the reasons we are developing the Plan is because some downtown property owners are interested in redeveloping. The Plan is designed to provide a common vision for the area and offer some predictability to the types of redevelopment that occur. Without a plan, haphazard development will be scattered throughout the area with no regard to the long-term viability of the distinct neighborhoods in the area. We’ll be without policies and ordinances to protect viable residential neighborhoods while supporting redevelopment where appropriate.

East Main Street ballfields
Neighbors of the property have requested the draft Plan be amended to include a portion of the ballfields into the proposed Historic Residential Character Overlay zoning, and that the overlay be implemented with zoning of the first portion of downtown, if not sooner. The Greater Round Rock Community Foundation, owner of the property, has plans for building social service facilities and administrative offices on the land.

The Planning and Zoning Commission, at its Nov. 19 retreat, felt like the overlay was inappropriate for the property since there are no residential structures on it.

What we are recommending is that a note be included on the Vision Plan map (currently on page 27) and in the Design and Land Use recommendations in Chapter 4 of the Plan. The note will state the property should be designed as a combination of open space and family-oriented social service facilities and administrative offices, and that the property be comprehensively planned to effectively integrate those uses.  A special zoning district (PUD) will be required to develop this property.  This will include neighborhood input.
We want to the note and the Plan document to reflect the consensus reached at the special meeting held during the charrette last January.

Brushy Creek trail
The concerns brought up by residents who live on Vista Drive regarding the trail planned for Brushy Creek are understandable and legitimate. The issue was discussed briefly by the Planning and Zoning Commission at its Dec. 16 meeting. The issues – about safety, impact to creek views, division of property – will be addressed during the design process for the trail, which will occur at some point in the future. There is no funding currently identified for the trail project.

Form-Based Code
The Form-Based Code will codify recommendations made in the Plan for land use and design. We will begin work on the Code after the Plan receives recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Commission and approval by the City Council. The Plan provides general guidance; the Code will provide the specifics. There will be many details to work out as we develop the Code in conjunction with area residents and businesses, the development community and the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The basic idea of the Code is to allow for transitions in land use from higher density and mixed uses along arterial roads like Mays Street and U.S. 79, to lower density and primarily residential uses further from busy corridors. The Plan calls for the creation of “Transect Zones” to accomplish the zoning transition.

In response to input from residents in the area who live on Sunset Drive and Summit Streets, we have proposed changes to the future zoning recommendation for that area, which is bounded by IH 35 to the west and Mays Street to the east, the creek to the south and development on U.S. 79 and the church on the north. Because of the proximity to IH 35 and existing commercial and multi-family zoning west of Summit, we are recommending future zoning densities higher than the first draft of the Plan suggested.

It is important to remember that the future zoning recommendations are only recommendations. As stated in the Property Rights section above, nothing in the Plan will force anyone to change the use of their properties.

Comments

uberVU - social comments said:

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# January 11, 2010 5:12 PM

TEXAS PIONEER INSURANCE said:

We were unable to attend the open house, but would like more information on the extension of Main to IH35.  This seems like an unnecessary expense and a potential traffic problem for both Main and IH35 Access Road.  We don't understand the advantage when the two existing access routes to IH35 (HWY 620 and McNeil) seem to be sufficient.  

# January 19, 2010 1:56 PM

Will Hampton said:

The Main Street extension is recommended to include an "iconic" bridge that would increase the visibility of downtown to IH 35 motorists, as well as improve circulation in the area.

An important element of urban design is to provide multiple options for motorists so no one or two streets carry all the traffic. As Round Rock continues to grow, it will be increasingly important to have more than one route to access downtown.

Spreading out the traffic makes the area more pedestrian friendly, too, which is a goal of the Plan.

# January 20, 2010 10:19 AM
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