During its July 9 meeting, Leander City Council approved a zoning ordinance amendment on first reading that will broaden options for entertainment and things to do throughout the city.

“Over time we’ve had a lot of requests from developers where they want to see more options for outdoor entertainment,” Executive Director of Development Services Robin Griffin said. “It's also one of the action items from our comprehensive plan to encourage more entertainment-style development.”

A closer look

The amendment outlines regulations for an entertainment overlay in the city’s composite zoning ordinance, officials said. This entertainment overlay acts as a blanket zoning designation over a property or development, allowing it to be home to more options for entertainment, and may include uses such as night clubs, theaters and banquet halls.

Griffin said the entertainment overlay gives developers or property owners some relaxation from the city's typical zoning standards and expectations. She said it makes changes to hours of operation; adds uses; and allows for off-premise consumption of alcohol, alternative lighting and some parking relief.

Developments such as Northline and Crystal Village could have an entertainment overlay, for instance, Griffin said.

Griffin said each area will have a separate overlay, meaning they will have different allowed uses based on their surroundings.

“If you had a developer come in and they’re surrounded by residential, and the community is not excited about outdoor noise, [we] could do things like prohibit certain items," she said.

The amendment also provides lighter restrictions for food truck parks. Previously, food truck parks needed a special-use permit approved by council to operate. However, Griffin said the amendment allows them to be in entertainment overlays without that extra step.

Lastly, the amendment adds farmers markets to the city’s zoning code. Prior to the amendment, Griffin said the city's ordinance was “silent” on farmers markets. People had to submit applications for special-event or special-use permits to establish them.

This amendment allows farmers markets to be part of entertainment overlays, Griffin said, adding that they can still be established through special-use permits.

Going forward

Mayor Christine DeLisle said the only addition to the zoning ordinance amendment she would like to see going forward is a minimum number of vendors or booths needed to qualify as a farmers market, which would prevent people from randomly setting up tables to sell something.

Council will consider the amendment for final approval at its July 18 meeting, officials said.