City of Amarillo further refines zoning review plan
Responding to the public outcry, Amarillo City Deputy Manager Andrew Freeman held a briefing Friday to discuss changes to the city’s proposed zoning review that focused on balancing the needs of the city and the problems of the residents with the proposed plan.
Due to the amount of comments and confusion over plans expressed in multiple public meetings on zoning reviews, the city of Amarillo went back and amended the changes based on community feedback. These changes will be presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission at Monday’s meeting.
“What we’ve heard from the public in our meetings is a lot of feedback on specific sections of code,” Freeman said. “There were requests for changes and different ideas expressed about the plan. We are going to have a new recommendation that we will present to them on Monday; we will put this information on the website to hopefully alleviate any concerns we hear before the meeting.
Freeman said most of the changes were related to short-term rentals, Air BnBs and traditional bed and breakfasts. He said the current code only allows Air BnBs in particular areas, such as industrial and commercial areas.
With the new code, the city wanted to add the ability to add short-term rentals in as many areas as possible. Based on feedback, the city will allow these rentals in all areas. Short-term rental is defined as any accommodation used for a period of accommodation of less than 30 consecutive days.
“We’ll be one of the most passive cities in Texas when it comes to short-term rentals,” Freeman said. “Most major cities have extensive regulations on short-term rentals.”
He said he doesn’t see short-term rentals having much of a negative impact on residents based on what the city has seen to date. The city has been offering short-term rentals for years and has received very few complaints.
Freeman said the city wanted to distinguish between a bed and breakfast and a short-term rental. According to Freeman, Amarillo has some of the least stringent rules for residents wanting to use their homes for short-term rentals. Any residential home under these plans can be used for short-term rental as far as the city is concerned. There is no registration, but these residents must pay a tourist tax.
The main changes will be to clarify the rules for bed and breakfasts, such as the number of events per year.
“We’re trying to modernize regulations, look at impacts on residential neighborhoods and reduce disruption to residents,” Freeman said. “We try to accommodate situations not covered in the original zoning codes.”
Regarding much of the community feedback that felt the city failed to communicate on zoning revisions, Freeman said senders were not sent out documenting all previously proposed zoning changes due how much it would cost to send all the pages. Still, the information was posted on the city’s website and he encourages residents to read the plan and the changes on the city’s website.
According to the section on non-conformities in the document, non-conformities that were otherwise legal on the effective date may be continued and may be characterized as a legal non-conformance or as having the legal status of a non-conformance. compliance. A non-conforming land use is a use that legally existed before a zoning restriction came into effect and has continued to exist even though it no longer conforms to the currently applicable restrictions.
Most of the parking regulations were removed from the new revisions that were going to create a maximum parking standard due to the comments. Freeman said some parts will be removed for now and reassessed at a later date if needed.
“It’s always a balancing act between regulations and property rights,” Freeman added. “Cities have these challenges. You have to be mindful of residents when it comes to high usage, and I think we’ve struck a good balance without being overly constraining.”
Most of the comments discussed at the meetings concerned single-family homes and the plan to move detached single-family homes out of industrial areas. Freeman said they would be considered non-compliant with what is happening, so there will be changes to address this issue that would allow these homes to remain as they are.
He said that the changes made should be able to solve about 50% of complaints about the new revision. The changes to the plan will be submitted to the planning and zoning commission at 3 p.m. Monday and will go before the city council on April 12.
He said that going forward, the city will need to make periodic changes to the code over time as it sees the impacts and what needs to change.
“I really think from a citizen’s perspective, your typical landlord will be like you don’t even know the code exists,” Freeman said. “If you have commercial real estate or are planning a new development, some of the new regulations will come into play. For your average citizen, it will be as if nothing really happened.”
For more details on Amarillo’s rezoning plan, go to amarillo.gov/zrp