Round Rock ready to update development code

An updated development code would help streamline development and projects, such as the Cedar Ridge High School Performing Arts Center, currently under construction.

An updated development code would help streamline development and projects, such as the Cedar Ridge High School Performing Arts Center, currently under construction.

The city of Round Rock will soon have an updated development code as the city’s planning department prepares to submit the revised document to City Council for approval this month.

“Each city is set up differently in how they have their development regulations. Right now, we have a code of ordinances, which includes every type of regulation the city has, from traffic regulations all the way to new development. So when you open up our code of ordinances, all of the provisions related to development are scattered throughout the code,” said Brad Wiseman, Round Rock director of planning and development. “So what we are doing is developing what is called in many places a unified development code. We are reviewing our entire code of municipal ordinances and pulling all of the provisions out of the code of ordinances and placing them into one development code.

“It will be much more streamlined. You will be able to access all of the rules related to developing a piece of property.”

The decision to revise the code began in mid-2013 when City Council approved a decision to update the development code, something that had never been done before, according to Wiseman. That decision initiated a massive project in which members of the city’s planning department combed through more than 500 pages of ordinances and regulations, deciding what needed to be kept, consolidated and revised—something that took more than three years to complete.

“The first part was just thinking about organization and how to take on such a massive project,” city Senior Planner Bradley Dushkin said. “Normally, for something of this scale, the city would hire out to a consultant, but we are keeping it all in-house, doing it ourselves, which has been a lot of meetings with other departments and with the city attorney. It has been going on a long time, just to make sure we leave no stone unturned as best as we can.”

Dushkin said the objective of the project was to revise the development code to be a more cohesive, user-friendly document, but the city has taken code revision a step further by hiring its first development facilitator just last month. Although she will be required to wear a variety of hats, Robin Vietz’s job has a singular focus: to assist applicants through the development process.

According to the city, Vietz will assist applicants who encounter problems during any stage of the development process by examining issues and discussing solutions with staff in an effort to move projects forward with the public interest in mind.

Vietz provides oversight to ensure applicants are equipped with what they need to secure a project approval.

Vietz also identifies projects that have spent too much time in the development process, and she initiates contact to move them along. She also handles special projects, including but not limited to improving department performance measures and producing public announcements on development-related issues.

“I am excited to be with the city of Round Rock in this newly created position, and am encouraged more municipalities may see the advantages of hiring a proactive facilitator to assist in the development process,” Vietz said.