Update: The headline of this story has been updated to better reflect the changes being discussed as part of the proposed zoning ordinance modifications.

West University Place council members will hold a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 12 to gain feedback on the city’s plan to consolidate residential zoning districts as well as proposed changes aimed at mitigating noise from pickleball courts and other residential sports courts.

The overview

John Cutrer, chair of the city’s Zoning and Planning Commission, provided council members with an overview of the proposed changes during the council’s Jan. 22 meeting.

The proposed changes to the residential zoning districts are aimed at making the city’s zoning ordinances easier to understand for residents and developers, Cutrer said.

Additionally, the changes would expand upon the city’s current regulations for the construction of private tennis courts to include additional sports courts.

A closer look

Currently, the city has three separate zoning districts for single-family residents. Under the new proposal, Cutrer said the districts would be consolidated into a unified single district.

“The reorganization of the zoning ordinance really has to do with just kind of cleaning up what over time became a very confusing and awkward layout,” Cutrer said. “We're just reorganizing it so that someone looking to build a house, for example, wouldn't have to wade through a bunch of tables and figure out what's relevant to that particular lot.”

Additionally, Cutrer said the public hearing would include a measure that would expand the city’s regulations for private tennis courts to include courts for other sports, such as pickleball.

City code does not currently allow for the construction of tennis courts at single-family residences unless they conform to a set of special rules. Cutrer said those regulations would also be extended to pickleball courts and other sports courts in most cases due to concerns over the noise they could potentially create.

“The issue with noise and pickleball courts is very well documented,” Cutrer said. “We live in a city of generally smaller lots. Most of them are 5,000-6,000 square feet, so it's already a little bit noisy. [If you] drop a sports court or pickleball court in, it gets even noisier.”

However, Cutrer said the construction of sports courts could be permitted under certain circumstances.

“There's also a genuine desire to not foreclose the opportunity for people to build them where the situation warrants it,” Cutrer said. “In some circumstances, for example, if someone has a larger lot or if they buy a second lot next to them, it would be feasible based on what we proposed.”

Cutrer said exceptions to the proposed regulations could merit considerations from the Zoning and Planning Commission if the following conditions have been met:
  • A noise study has been conducting showing the proposed project meets city standards.
  • There are no objections from adjacent property owners.
  • Protected trees are preserved.
  • The project meets landscaping and beautification standards.
What’s next

A joint public hearing will be held by with the city’s Zoning and Planning Commission at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 12 to discuss the proposed changes. Residents are encouraged to attend to voice any concerns they might have over the proposals.