On May 23, Katy City Council accepted redefined terms and land uses for commercial, industrial and the “Old Katy” zoning districts as determined by the city planning and zoning commission. The last time these terms were updated was 1983.

Rachel Lazo, city planner for the public works department, presented the redefined terms for C-1 commercial districts; C-2 general business districts; the OKD, or “Old Katy” district; and M industrial districts.

An actionable plan of work was determined by city staff and approved by the city planning and zoning commission in November 2018, Lazo said. With this plan, the first priority was to revise the boundaries of the Old Katy District. In early 2019, the city planning and zoning commission added minimum standards for architecture, parking and signage, she said.

“The language [used for these standards] would help encourage maintaining the character and redevelopment of the Old Katy District,” Lazo said.

The second priority was to determine the zoning district land uses for each of the aforementioned districts, adding definitions of each district for clarity. Majority of changes were made to the C-1 commercial district, Lazo said.

For the C-1 district, the city planning and zoning commission removed limitations on the number of employees and requirements for special use permits for certain uses, such as laundries and dry cleaners. The commission also got rid of irrelevant uses, including outdated terms, such as ice delivery station; prohibited smoke shops, liquor stores, sexually-oriented businesses and tattoo shops; permitted restaurants under 5,000 square feet; relocated incompatible uses—such as machine shops, self-storage and gas stations—to the C-2 district; and updated the purpose statement to ensure new businesses that would emerge are in line with the intention of the district, Lazo said.

“Because we cannot have a fully comprehensive list, we wanted to make sure the purpose statements [for each district] gave general direction of what we intended those districts to be,” she said.

Minimal changes were made to the OKD, including revised language for consistency across all districts and grammatical changes; permitted use for maximum 3,000-square-foot “micro-industrial” businesses—such as breweries, wineries, distilleries and roasteries; instilled size maximums for restaurants; and permitted parking as a primary use to allow for future structured parking garages.

The C-2 district also removed dated uses, such as for ice plants and milk bottling; grouped similar uses together; moved several uses to the industrial district; incorporated uses deemed “too intense” for C-1; and added “commercial amusement” uses, including bowling alleys, billiards and shooting ranges to the district.

Lazo said uses for the industrial district were scaled back. She stated that review of the business model could determine whether to categorize the industrial use as light or heavy. All prohibited uses from the commercial districts were added to this category as permitted uses, with sexually-oriented businesses still requiring a special use permit.

Council Member Dan Smith thanked Lazo and the CPZ for their work on the zoning definitions, especially when it comes to integrating the uses of C-1 with districts where residents live.

“C-1 is light commercial,” Smith said. “By definition, it is designed to co-exist and live right next to residential. [These changes are a] massive improve[ment].”

Businesses already in these districts are grandfathered in, said Lazo and several council members, and will not have to make any changes in accordance with the redefined land uses.