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- Land Development Ordinance
Land Development Ordinance
After a two year community-wide process, the New Braunfels City Council adopted Envision New Braunfels, the community’s Comprehensive Plan. Envision New Braunfels won the American Planning Association award for Best Comprehensive Plan in the State of Texas in 2018, due to its community-driven process, innovative outreach, and its broad approach beyond the City organization with goals for the business community, school districts, medical industry, non-profits, tourism industry and more!
In Envision New Braunfels, residents noted a desire for more walkable/neighborhood-scale development, connectivity for all modes, innovative housing types, discouraging sprawl, preservation of historic assets, and protection of natural resources. To properly achieve this, the City must update its development codes: the Zoning, Subdivision Platting, Historic Preservation, and Sign ordinances. The zoning and subdivision ordinances govern how property can be used including regulations such as building height, setbacks between properties and rights-of-way, what uses are permitted, how many parking spaces must be provided for various development types, landscaping, the procedures for subdividing property or undertaking a larger development project, etc. The historic preservation ordinance outlines standards for each of the City’s historic districts, and the sign ordinance includes rules for height and area of different types of commercial signs.
The last time the Zoning ordinance was comprehensively updated was 1987, the Platting and Historic Preservation ordinances were written in the 1990s, and the Sign ordinance was written in 2006. New modern tools need to be adopted to properly implement the residents’ vision as described in the Comprehensive Plan. A new user-friendly, graphics intensive unified development code project has begun: New Braunfels Land Development Ordinance (LDO). As with Envision New Braunfels, the LDO is a public, community-driven process, although more technical in nature. We invite the entire community to participate in the project!
Community Feedback on Initial Survey
The initial survey to collect community feedback on priorities for the LDO rewrite garnered 761 responses. Thank you to every resident who took the time to respond, since your replies are an important component in developing a community-driven code for the built environment.
Resident concerns covered a broad array of topics, but some general themes were apparent.
- The rapid rate of growth in New Braunfels is a source of concern, since it threatens the character that initially draws people to New Braunfels. The regulations have struggled to keep pace with the City’s growth.
- There is a need for better protection of the historic buildings that contribute to the city’s unique character.
- There is a desire for more green space, and better protection of trees in the community.
- Rapid development is generating opposition to more development, particularly large increases in density on the periphery.
- The increase in traffic and congestion is a quality of life issue, with existing roads inadequate to handle increased demand. There is a lack of parking in and around downtown.
The detailed compilation of responses has thousands of comments, and runs to over 100 pages. Download a sample of survey responses reflective of the themes identified above.
A full summary of responses is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Code Assessment Report
A first important step in the LDO rewrite process is the Code Assessment Report. This Report is a detailed, section-by-section analysis of the code, that incorporates input received during initial stakeholder interviews, and feedback from the initial community resident survey. The Report covers the current zoning, subdivision platting, sign, and historic preservation ordinances.
The Report addresses:
- Strengths and weaknesses of the existing ordinances related to specific topics;
- Options and alternatives for approaching issues identified in the code rewrite; and
- A proposed new structure that combines zoning, subdivision platting, historic preservation, and sign ordinances into one integrated LDO.
The report allows the public, development stakeholders, elected and appointed officials, the Citizens Advisory Committee, and City staff the opportunity to review the overall structure of the proposed revisions before the actual code drafting begins, providing an early opportunity to make corrections or suggest other approaches before significant time and resources are invested in actual drafting.
The first installment of the LDO project has been completed. A rough draft of the zoning module is available for public review, input, suggestions, etc. Public workshops for in-person participation in further ordinance development were held on November 30 and December 1, 2022 (for more information please reference the Public Input tab at the top of this page). Everyone in the community is invited to review both the assessment report and the draft zoning module and provide input any time by emailing your thoughts to email@example.com. We ask that you provide feedback by January 31, 2023.
Land development ordinances are a set of regulations, standards, and tools that describe what can be built where in New Braunfels. This includes zoning, but also other ordinances affecting land development in the City, such as subdivision platting, historic preservation standards, and the requirements for signs. This update project will not only review and update the content of these ordinances, it will also combine them into one central document, with an internally consistent and logical organizational structure.
The City’s current land use regulations reflect the suburban nature of the area at the time they were adopted (1940) and revised (1960, 1987, and 2006). However, particularly since 2006, New Braunfels’ rapid rate of growth has highlighted the limitations of the regulations and outpaced the ability of periodic amendments to keep up with the changes occurring in and around the City.
In 2018, the City updated the Comprehensive Plan. The new plan, Envision New Braunfels, shaped by extensive citizen input, considers both where and how the citizens wish to see the City grow in the future. The plan lays the groundwork for future regulatory changes, and the present effort to perform an assessment and analysis of the current regulations can establish a clear path forward for the future land use regulation changes. Prior to initiating the rewrite, the assessment and analysis document will identify:
- Ways in which the current regulations work well;
- Ways in which the current regulations do not work well or are unduly complicated;
- Which sections of the current regulations are inconsistent with the goals and objectives of adopted plans and policies of the City;
- Ways to integrate other ordinances in the Municipal Code – Signs, Subdivision, Historic Preservation -- to enhance consistency and usability through creation of an integrated land development ordinance;
- If updates are necessary to comply with the local, state, and federal laws;
- Ways to improve the development review procedures and streamline where appropriate; and
- Ways to improve the user-friendliness of the land use regulations.
The analysis will also include a detailed annotated outline showing how a revised set of land use regulations could be organized and what content should be incorporated.
Public Input Meetings
The land development ordinance update project started in November of 2021 with stakeholder interviews, meetings with the Citizens Advisory Committee and Technical Advisory Committee and an online survey. The initial survey to collect community feedback on priorities for the LDO rewrite garnered 761 responses. Thank you to every resident who took the time to respond, since your replies are an important component in developing a community-driven code for the built environment.
The project is anticipated to continue through 2023, and there will be multiple opportunities for public input during that timeframe. Below are the public meetings held thus far:
- April 6, 2022 – 6 – 9 p.m. at City Hall – City Council/Planning Commission Joint Workshop
- April 7, 2022 – 1 – 2:30 p.m. at City Hall – Citizens Advisory Committee Meeting
- April 7, 2022 – 4 – 7 p.m. at City Hall – Open House
- April 8, 2022 – 9:30 – 11 a.m. at City Hall – Technical Advisory Committee Meeting
- June 2, 2022 – 2:30 – 5 p.m. at City Hall – Development Community Input Meeting
- June 3, 2022 – 9 – 10:30 a.m. at City Hall – Historic Preservation Input Meeting
- October 18, 2022 - 8:30 am - Downtown Board Meeting
- November 30, 2022 - 2:30 - 4:00 pm at City Hall - Citizens Advisory Committee Workshop
- November 30, 2022 - 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm at City Hall - Community Workshop
- December 1, 2022 - 9:00 - 11:00 am at City Hall - Technical Advisory Committee Workshop
The project public participation plan anticipates numerous opportunities for the community to participate in the project throughout its duration. The Plan describes:
- Objectives: What are the goals for seeking input on the project?
- Key audiences: Who are we hoping to hear from?
- Key messages: What do we want people to know about the project and its progress?
- Engagement activities: When are the anticipated opportunities to participate?
The Participation Plan is a starting point for guiding engagement throughout the project. It is posted to foster community resident awareness of how engagement for the project is envisioned at the outset. However, as the rewrite progresses, it can be revisited, changed, and updated to reflect evolving strategies and opportunities for public participation.
View an updated project schedule