Lewisville City Council unanimously approved an amendment to the Old Town Master Plan and adopted a new zoning regulation in an attempt to facilitate revitalization in the downtown area at its Aug. 19 meeting.
Planning Director Richard Luedke said the Old Town Master Plan amendment is intended to detail in clearer language what types of development would support the plan’s stated goal of fostering pedestrian movement and activity in Old Town.
“To achieve maximum pedestrian movement and activity, the mixture of recommended uses should be balanced by limiting the ground floor occupancy of those that are typically closed on weekends, such as office uses, and encouraging their placement on the upper floors of buildings; particularly those fronting West Main Street between Mill Street and Charles Street,” the amendment states.
The new zone regulation adopted by council is also intended to help the city achieve its vision for Old Town, Luedke said.
The ordinance requires a special use permit for business or commercial schools, clinics, day nurseries and professional offices within the Main Street Corridor Subarea—which is made up of the properties with frontage on West Main Street between North Mill Street and North Charles Street. According to the ordinance, any place of business where the primary purpose is not to sell or exchange goods or merchandise is considered a professional office.
“We thought that there needed to be a little more guidance, particularly amongst the office uses,” Luedke said. “That has been an item of concern by staff and by some of the property owners along Main Street. You think about office uses, and they draw a daytime crowd, which is really good for restaurants and so forth, but they’re usually closed evenings and weekends.”
Offices already existing on the ground floor of the area will be granted legal non-conforming status, and may continue to operate without a special use permit as long as they do not go vacant for more than 90 days, Luedke said.
A 45-foot height maximum will be maintained in the Main Street Corridor Subarea as well as the Plaza Subdistrict, which is comprised of West Main Street between North Mill Street and North Charles Street; properties fronting the south side of West Church Street between North Mill Street and North Charles Street; and properties fronting the west side of North Mill Street between West Main Street and West Church Street.
Luedke said by maintaining the height restrictions in these areas of the Old Town Center District, the city will still be able to protect the historic core of Old Town.
Additionally, the new ordinance dictates building height maximums will be increased to 75 feet in areas of the Old Town Center District not encompassed by the Main Street Corridor Subarea or the Plaza Subdistrict. This includes portions of Elm, Charles, South Mill, and Church streets and North Kealy Avenue.
“We’ve had a lot of different developers visit with city staff about mixed use developments that require higher height to the building,” Luedke said.
He said raising the height maximums in certain portions of the Old Town Center District would provide consistency with surrounding height maximums and allow the city to have more flexibility with developers who want to build mixed use developments with the potential to encourage more pedestrian activity in the area.
The Lewisville Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to recommend that council approve both the Old Town Master Plan amendment and the new zoning ordinance at their Aug. 6 meeting.
No community members spoke against the two changes at either the Aug. 6 planning and zoning meeting or the public hearings that preceded council’s vote Aug. 19.
Luedke said city staff met with the Main and Mill Association multiple times as well as individually with each business owner in the affected area. He said only one owner was not in favor of the changes.
“We had one who thinks this is a little bit premature,” he said. “We respectfully disagree. We think now is the time to get this into place because the worst thing that could happen is we get the ground floors filled up with office uses, and then, five years down the road, we have all these restaurants and desired uses and no place for them to go.”