The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Official: Zoning overhaul positive change

 

October 21, 2018

Kevin Wilson

Kirk Bishop of Duncan and Associates goes through a presentation on the city's Unified Development Ordinance at a Wednesday town hall at the Clovis-Carver Public Library.

CLOVIS - Zoning regulations can be onerous and intimidating.

And that's the reason Pete Wilt suspects no spectators attended Wednesday's town hall on a Unified Development Ordinance process covering them.

Following the hourlong presentation by Kirk Bishop of Duncan and Associates, the city's building safety director said the process to overhaul the city's zoning labels and regulations should be a positive one for citizens.

"It will be better for developers and just allow regular citizens to understand it a lot easier," Wilt said. "I don't have any major concerns. All they're doing is taking what exists and updating it, because it hasn't been updated since 1989, I believe."

Not counting Bishop or Phyllis Taylor of Sites Southwest, which has also assisted with the UDO, the only seven in attendance were three city employees (Wilt, Building Safety Inspector Louis Gordon and City Manager Justin Howalt), one city commissioner, two members of the planning and zoning committee and a reporter.

Bishop said the UDO, which has been in formulation for more than a year-and-a-half, isn't being created to pave the way for some new industry to come into the city.

"This project is not about rezoning people's property," Bishop said. "We're focusing exclusively on the text and modernizing the text while keeping the (zoning) map intact."

Many existing zones will retain their characteristics, but do so under different names. A ranchette district, for example, will now be RS-170, meaning a residential single family district where the lot size is at least 170,000 square feet. Other RS districts would include the minimum lot square footage, as well.

Also, districts where carports are allowed would no longer be carport districts, but residential districts with carport overlays. Pre-fabricated carports might not be approved for front yards once the UDO is in place, though all previously approved carports would still be fine. Wilt and Howalt said they wanted that section reviewed by counsel before making anything official.

The UDO also recognizes, Bishop said, that more people work at home and includes regulations that are less stringent toward home-based businesses, daycares or short-term rentals like AirBnb. The new code also covers items like electric car charging ports that may be a blip on the radar now but could become commonplace over the next few decades.

The UDO also includes the planned unit development district that was recently added on top of Clovis' code.

"It's really a recognition," Bishop said, "that zoning isn't perfect and somebody's going to build a better mousetrap that doesn't fit into the standard zone designations. It's kind of a one-off, where the next PUD will be different from the last PUD."

The documentation includes a use table listing what's allowed and not allowed in each district, along with a reference to where it's specified in code.

The UDO is available on the city's website at cityofclovis.org, with Bishop and Howalt hoping everything could be finalized before the city commission early in the first quarter of 2019.

 

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