Masonry ordinance moves forward in Magnolia

At its Nov. 29 meeting, the Magnolia Planning Commission agreed to recommend a masonry ordinance to City Council, which will tighten restrictions on required materials used on new developments.

While the ordinance contains varying requirements for commercial and residential, both types of structures will require more fire-resistant masonry on exterior walls. The ordinance defines masonry construction as a structure "composed of brick, stone, decorative concrete block, rock or other materials of equal characteristics laid up unit by unit and set in mortar." It emphasizes non-masonry materials include untextured concrete, wood, fiber-cement siding or any combination.

"We think for the future of Magnolia, especially with the comprehensive plan, if we are going to make the city look half-decent we have to pass this ordinance," said Frank Parker, the commission's president.

The code is part of an effort to beautify and unify the overall look of the city, and although it ties in with the mission of the comprehensive plan, Economic Development Coordinator Deborah Miller said the ordinance has been discussed for years.

If the council approves the ordinance, it will go into immediate effect. However, existing structures will not be affected, Parker said. Unless more than 50 percent of a structure is remodeled, existing structures remain untouched by the ordinance.

Both residential and non-residential buildings must have at least 75 percent of exterior masonry construction, according to the ordinance, and no one wall or elevation is allowed to have less than 50 percent of exterior masonry or highly textured concrete panel construction.

For residential buildings, the remaining portions of exterior walls—excluding windows and doors—must be composed of other masonry, stucco or fiber-cement siding.

"Masonry will also increase a building's fire rating, which is structurally important," said commission member Chris Hillman.

The ordinance is an amendment to the 2009 International Building Code, which the city will consider adopting at its December meeting, and outlines specific definitions of various masonry materials and requirements for buildings. It is available for viewing by residents upon request at City Hall.

The Magnolia City Council's next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 11at City Hall, 18111 Buddy Riley Blvd.