Developers, realtors gather to hear more about Dayton’s Unified Development Code

Brian Mabry with Kendig Keast Collaborative (standing at left) leads the discussion regarding the City of Dayton's Unified Development Code on Nov. 8.

The City of Dayton and Dayton Community Development Corporation hosted an open house on Nov. 8 to showcase the third of four modules that make up the draft for the city’s Unified Development Code. Brian Mabry, principal associate with Kendig Keast Collaborative, the Sugarland, Texas-based community planning consultancy firm hired by the city, led the discussion.

In open houses held earlier this year, the first two segments were explained. The first segment addressed zoning districts and land uses and the second related to subdivision standards such as width of streets, sidewalk and utility easements and parks.

Brian Mabry with Kendig Keast Collaborative explains the types of materials that must be used on new developments in the city of Dayton.

Information on the third segment, which addresses materials, signs, landscaping, parking and lighting, was shared with about a dozen realtors, builders and interested parties at the Nov. 8 open house held at the Dayton Community Center.

“The City of Dayton’s comprehensive plan was finished a year ago. That is the policy foundation that other things are based on. One of those things is the Unified Development Code,” Mabry said. “Think of it as the zoning regulations, subdivision regulations, sign standards and a bunch of other things put together in one document, so it’s more user-friendly. It becomes more of a one-stop resource for someone wanting to do a development in Dayton.”

The next module will address procedures, enforcement and remedies. After the final open house, a draft of the Unified Development Code will be presented to the Planning Board, which will make a recommendation to council to accept or modify the UDC.

“We have a target date of March to have it finished and have the document before the planning board and the city council. We are on track for that,” Mabry said. “What we are working on right now are the words – the rules – for zoning. There is also a map that goes along with it. We are organizing regulations and formatting them so they are more understandable to a lay person.”

While a UDC is frequently used to attract builders and developers to a city because it eliminates guesswork, it also needs to be understandable to a lay person.

“It is very frequently used by citizens – people who want to put up a fence or shed, or a shopping center,” Mabry said. “It must be user-friendly and formatted well without legalese. The UDC is one document with several pieces. When you put all those things together, you can weed out duplication and inconsistencies, and have a single source of information.”

The UDC is not property tax policy or tax annexation policy, and is not a capital improvements program, Mabry added.

“All of this is a draft. It’s not set in stone. It only becomes set in stone when the council approves it and even then it can be amended,” he said.

Cortland Holman, executive director of the Dayton Community Development Center, said after the open house that he is pleased that the UDC draft is now more than halfway through the process.

“Tonight you heard about UDC and neighborhood stabilization, but we also have in the draft now the downtown revitalization and master parks plans, which are going through review. We have physical documents that are working their way through staff and will be going to council for review next month hopefully,” Holman said. “It took about 10 months for the downtown revitalization plan and about the same amount of time for the master parks plan. All of these plans have to come together at the same time – the comprehensive plan, downtown revitalization plan, master parks plan and the unified development code and neighborhood stabilization plan.”

The combination of the plans provides developers with what must do for the projects to comply with the city’s standards and what council can expect of the developers.

“It gives everyone an even playing field. It allows protection for the homeowner against a retail or industrial location, and on the flip side, it gives the businesses protection so they aren’t encumbered by the restrictions of a residential area,” Holman said.

By Vanesa Brashier,

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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