Many new structures built in Cedar Park must now adhere to stricter masonry standards following the April 12 City Council vote to increase minimum requirements.
The Cedar Park Council voted 5-1 to approve the stricter standards, which kept nearly all single-family masonry requirements the same as before while increasing industrial and commercial minimums to 50 percent and 100 percent, respectively.
Counciman Mitch Fuller cast the lone dissenting vote, suggesting the masonry standard for single-family homes be raised from 50 percent to 75 percent. The revised ordinance requires only single-family homes that face two streets and multifamily projects to comply with the 75 percent masonry minimum—the same residential standard originally proposed by city staff before the Cedar Park Planning and Zoning Commission voted to retain 50 percent single-family minimum.
Fuller said he thinks it is important to build premium structures on Cedar Park's remaining vacant lots.
"I think this is about maximizing, as much as possible, those 3,200 lots yet to be platted," he said. "I just think we're in a critical point as a city."
Safety was the primary reason Fuller and Cedar Park Mayor Bob Lemon cited behind supporting masonry as opposed to other building materials.
"From my perspective it's not an aesthetic thing—it's a safety thing," Lemon said. "Frankly, I would go higher than this, but I think what we have here is OK. The higher standard we have, the better off we are."
Leila Wurst, Texas Masonry Council community planner, suggested the increased masonry standard would make Cedar Park more attractive than neighboring communities. And, without stricter measures in place, Wurst warned councilors there could repercussions.
"If higher standards are not in place, some builders—not all—will try to get off on the cheapest route possible," she said.
Harry Savio, Home Builders of America Greater Austin executive vice president, disputed the claim, suggesting builders will instead build to the lowest standards supported by the home market, which, in Cedar Park, tends to be a 75 percent masonry minimum, he said.
"That's normally enforced by the homeowners associations and doesn't burden the city," Savio said.
He also expressed concern for homebuilders who either cannot afford the increased masonry standards, or for those building within established communities.
"There's always a cost when you start removing choice," Savio said. "This will exclude some buyers and burden others."