HARKER HEIGHTS — After more than 10 years of focus groups and forums, the Planning and Zoning Commission will host a public hearing this week on the proposed Heights Overlay District No. 1 along Farm-to-Market 2410.
The overlay would follow a zoning ordinance amendment and set standards for current and future buildings, parking, signage, landscaping, screening, buffering and street appearance.
City Manager Steve Carpenter and Planning and Development Director Fred Morris said the overlay should promote a low-speed boulevard, or “Main Street,” feel.
Harker Heights sent notices about the overlay and Wednesday’s 6 p.m. public hearing to businesses along the 2.4-square-mile Knight’s Way corridor extending southeast from U.S. Highway 190.
Kwik Kar Lube & Tune owner Robert Kitchenmaster said the city’s development standards are strict, but sees the hearing as an opportunity for business growth.
The city already doesn’t allow the display of outdoor “sails” — common auto shop flags that advertise services — past 60 days, Kitchenmaster said. He trimmed his pole sign to ground level to give a professional image, but trees obstruct it from drivers’ view.
“My sign is an example of what’s not good for business, even though I tried to make it good for business,” he said. “I look forward to working with the city and see what we can do. ... We can make it look nice and be business-friendly at the same time.”
Current building owners would be required to pay for changes, Carpenter said. The overlay could separately address current and future businesses.
Specific development standards could foster residential and business compatibility, draw national investors, and raise land values, which is a key for sustainability in a land-locked city like Harker Heights, Carpenter said.
An ordinance currently requires an 8-to-10-foot buffer between businesses and residences, Carpenter said. The Sam’s Club under construction on U.S. Highway 190 sits directly in front of a housing subdivision, but an overlay could have brought the building closer to the highway.
“The key is to establish an identity, increase the value of land long-term and increase the quality of life for people who live here and work here,” Carpenter said. “It’ll be interesting.”