Apr. 13, 2019

Mallory Herrmann

Changes to the EnVision LS overlay district are in the works. The city council’s community and economic development committee (CEDC) voted this week to recommend that both the planning commission and the full city council approve the changes.

The changes allow for an appeal process, creating an opportunity for developers to propose an exception to the overlay’s restricted uses directly to city council – before they engage in a costly and time-intensive preliminary development plan (PDP) process.

City staff, who drafted the changes at the committee’s request, said this gives developers an avenue to get approval for their proposed use before investing the time to draft a formal PDP. Currently, such applications would immediately get a recommendation of denial from city staff due to the use restriction.

The overlay district, which was approved in 2017 and affects much of the area near the recently redesigned interchange between 291 and 50 Highway, has caused frustration for current and potential developers. Designed to promote mixed-use development to create a gateway to downtown, developers have had a tough time taking advantage of the reinvigorated area since the interchange reopened last May.

At the committee’s March meeting, they heard from business owners and prospective business owners who felt hamstrung by the requirements – particularly restricted uses within the overlay, including uses for thrift stores, car washes and call centers.

Those who spoke at the March meeting also expressed frustration with the requirement to provide a PDP even for minor changes, improvements or repairs. The updated overlay requirement redefines what constitutes a repair or improvement, allowing owners to proceed with simple changes without needing to submit a full PDP application to the city council.

The changes apply only to the EnVision LS overlay and not to other areas of the city.

Mayor Pro Tem Beto Lopez, Councilmembers Fred DeMoro and Craig Faith and Donnie Funk of the planning commission voted unanimously to recommend approval at both the planning commission and the full city council. Councilmember Diane Forte was absent from the Apr. 10 meeting.