Hutto undergoing process of updating future land-use as well as zoning maps

Hutto undergoing process of updating future land-use as well as zoning mapsHutto’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan, adopted in May 2015, includes a future land-use map from 2009. According to city officials, the map is outdated and needs to keep up with the growth of the city of approximately 24,000.


The projected population of the city is 37,744 by 2030 and up to 48,064 by 2040. It will not stop there, said Helen Ramirez, Hutto executive director of business & development services.


“Our goal is balance,” Ramirez said. “That is what our residents want to see, and this [map update] will be a step toward planning that.”


The future land-use map is being updated by city officials. The map is a guide for growth and development, used for planning throughout the 51.5 square miles, which include the city limits; the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ; and growth area. The city’s goal, ultimately, is to annex all of the area within the ETJ.


Changes include increasing the amount of land planned for commercial and light industrial uses and decreasing the amount of land for single-family residential development.


A series of public meetings started in February and continue into March. The planning and zoning commission and City Council will meet, discuss and eventually vote on the recommended changes. Any changes will bring about changes to the city’s zoning map. All of this, Ramirez said, will likely take place by June 1.


The final public input meeting is at 7 p.m. on March 23 at the East Williamson County Higher Education Center, 1600 Innovation Blvd., Hutto.


“We’re working on a few types of outreach,” Ramirez said. “Public input is important to our growth. We even asked students at Farley Middle School what they would like to see come to town.”


The changes to the map also include the future of transportation through and around Hutto. Population density, commercial and industrial growth, parks and trails, and likely roadways will all be part of the updated map, Ramirez said.


“The [Hutto Area] Chamber of Commerce, the [Hutto Economic Development Corp.] and the schools all have a major impact on what we are doing and the future of Hutto,” Ramirez said. “We are working together to plan the growth that makes Hutto a great place to live, work and play. Right now, you can live and play here, but you can’t work here. We need to change that.”


Hutto City Manager Odis Jones said the changes are needed to help shape the city’s future. At a meeting Feb. 16, Jones said the changes to the land-use map are necessary, along with a combined SmartCode and Unified Development Code into one comprehensive but easy-to-use code. Ramirez and other city officials are working to address code issues and help developers clear red tape on new projects.


“I’m just a pro-business guy,” Jones said. “We’ve got several businesses that would love to expand, but this [code] is a serious impediment to growth. This is not Austin.”


Signs, utilities, roads and landscaping are categories the city will evaluate when revising the codes.


Jones and Mayor Doug Gaul encouraged Ramirez and her team to keep moving toward the code updates after the land-use map and zoning map update project is complete.


The future land-use map will concentrate on sections that may include special districts, such as entertainment, employment, medical, shopping, ecodistricts, technology and mega sites for industrial use.


A survey for Hutto residents is available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/huttoflum.

By Joe Warner
Joe Warner is executive editor of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as managing editor for Central Texas and senior editor of the flagship Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto newspaper. He came to Central Texas from Metro Detroit, where he was editor and general manager of several daily and weekly publications. He is the former president of the Michigan Press Association and was on the MPA board of directors for nine years.