• October 24, 2014

Overlay seeks to enhance Temple development

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Sunday, March 16, 2014 4:30 am

TEMPLE — Managing growth and development along Interstate 35, and encouraging more retail business, is a primary objective of city officials, and the I-35 overlay district is an important tool for that, City Manager David Blackburn and Director of Planning Brian Chandler said during a recent council workshop.

“This is a huge deal for us,” Blackburn said. “Once in a generation — or two or three — do you get a chance to change the face of Temple.

“We only get one chance to make a good first impression, and this is our generation’s chance to redefine Temple’s image for those who come after us.”

Whether the plan is working the way the Temple City Council wants it to, and whether adjustments might be made were among the questions Blackburn and Chandler presented.

A 2008 study conducted for Temple indicated the city leaks about $490 million in retail sales annually to other communities.

“We need to expand our retail sales,” Blackburn said.

The city has a good working document to address economic growth along I-35, Chandler said.

One of the aims of the plan is to encourage more retail growth along the interstate in areas that traditionally served industries “but are areas where retail seems to be more appropriate,” he said.

Seek right mix

Part of the objective is to ensure that while maintaining the aesthetic quality of new development, the city also is business friendly and responsive to developers’ needs, Chandler said.

The 2008 document further stated “It is important to provide an adequate mix of uses in the city, including retail. This is especially important in the I-35 corridor, which boasts a 100,000 daily vehicle count. The I-35 corridor is one of — if not the — most important corridors for retail growth potential in the city.”

There are about 1,400 acres of land (in the Temple city limits) within 500 feet of I-35.

Of this total, 33 percent or 460 acres are undeveloped.

About 82 tracts comprise this developable land with only 15 being more than 10 acres in size.

Prohibited uses of land along the I-35 corridor are: construction material sales, mobile home sales, portable structure sales and outdoor storage (including junkyards).

In the past three years, businesses ranging from auto dealerships to restaurants and furniture sales requested a total of 13 variances from the I-35 overlay.

The council approved those appeals.

“We have set our bar higher while letting property developers know we’ll work with them any way we can,” Mayor Danny Dunn said.

“I don’t think (the overlay district) has prevented development,” Councilman Perry Cloud added.

In addition to seeking to emphasize retail development, the overlay district also focuses on keeping areas along I-35 attractive.

“Aesthetics are important, and we want to encourage long-term durability through architecture and landscaping,” Chandler said.

“It’s not just about increasing the amount of landscaping, but making sure it’s drought-resistant and will thrive in our climate.”

In addition to seeking to emphasize retail development, the overlay district also focuses on keeping areas along I-35 attractive.

“Aesthetics are important, and we want to encourage long-term durability through architecture and landscaping,” Chandler said.

“It’s not just about increasing the amount of landscaping, but making sure it’s drought-resistant and will thrive in our climate.”

Landscaping requests

Many of those requesting variances have done so because of landscaping requirements, Chandler said.

“That’s the most frequent request,” he said. “We have a lot of car dealerships along I-35 and landscaped parking islands allow fewer cars to be parked on the lot.

“Another concern is that small sites can’t meet the 25-foot requirement for landscaping, and we already have a 15 percent overall requirement for landscaping that is easier to meet.”

While appeals are sometimes made, Chandler said the overlay is serving a valuable purpose for the city.

“Overall, I’d say it’s working well,” he said. “It’s also important for people to realize there is a well-defined process for appeals if developers feel they can’t meet standards.”

Those appeals go to the Planning and Zoning Commission, and then the council makes a final decision.

The good news is that the process is working, Chandler said, and the city continues to attract interest from new businesses interested in locating in Temple.

“The fact that there are so many inquiries about locating on I-35 is a good sign,” he said. “In my short time here (about four months), I’ve seen significant interest some businesses wanting to be on I-35.”

More about

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.

Featured Events