PILOT POINT — City staff members have begun constructing a plan that they hope will establish building standards for retail and commercial businesses adjacent to the U.S. Highway 377 and Washington Street corridor.
The planning staff presented proposals during the Pilot Point City Council’s Monday night meeting and received mixed reviews.
On the positive side, the council said that the city needs a comprehensive plan for future businesses to follow. The council said the plan will help Pilot Point look unified instead of like a “hodgepodge” of unorganized growth.
“I think it’s a good idea to get standardized. The problem is that it’s restrictive,” Mayor Pete Hollar said. “We don’t want to hinder economic development.”
The main concern for council members was that the plan could drive potential businesses away and possibly cause an uproar among existing businesses.
The mayor suggested that the staff take the proposed plan to business developers and get their opinions to avoid future problems.
“Take it to the people who build buildings and see how they feel about it,” Hollar said. “We need more public input. We need to get this right or we’ll be issuing variances every meeting.”
Planning Director Scott Ingalls said the Planning and Zoning Commission conducted two public hearings about the proposal, but no one attended.
“We need to allow the players to know what we’re doing,” Hollar said.
The city’s planning officials began working on the proposals earlier this year because they felt it was important to begin the process of transforming the corridors to improve appearance and traffic flow.
The design standards were modeled after ones used in Cross Roads, because officials said those standards were clear and straightforward.
Some of the standards address the use of “masonry materials for construction rather than steel siding,” according to a city staff report. The plan also addresses lighting, parking, pavement materials and landscaping.
One example of the plan’s standards is that at least 80 percent of a building’s facade should be neutral, cream or deep, rich, nonreflective natural or earth-toned colors. No more than one color may be used for visible roof surfaces.
If approved, the standards would apply to new construction. For existing buildings and properties, the standards would be applied when certain thresholds were met and passed, according to the staff report.
The standards were reviewed by the economic development corporation, and members voted to support the standards and urge their adoption.
However, the City Council urged the planning staff to seek input from owners of existing businesses before the council considers granting approval.
“If they don’t come to us, we need to go to them,” Hollar said.
In other council business, several parents attended the meeting on Monday to discuss traffic flow issues around Pilot Point Intermediate School.
In recent years, the school’s traffic design allowed for two rows of vehicles to drive up to the school to let parents either retrieve or drop off their children.
This approach moved traffic through the school at a fast rate, but the children had to walk between vehicles to get to the school, creating a safety hazard, city officials said.
A change in traffic flow this year now restricts the vehicles to one row. Children are safer, but the drop-off time has extended and slowed down the flow of traffic.
This condition is worse in bad weather when more parents come to pick up their kids from school, Pilot Point Police Chief Ric Sadler said.
Sadler told the parents and council that he would meet with the school district to discuss the situation and possibly determine an alternative.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.