New Texas Law Takes Zoning Authority from Cities

Originally published by: NBCUniversalJune 14, 2019

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Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill Friday that cities urged him to veto, saying it will change the future look of North Texas communities. HB 2439 will limit local regulation of building materials in new construction - preventing rules that go beyond national standards published within the last three code cycles.

"We have a very clear picture of what we want McKinney to look like," said McKinney Mayor George Fuller. "And when I say 'we' - it's the residents because it's the residents who weigh in at every public hearing, at every zoning case."

Fuller, who is also a developer, says the bill would prevent local residents from weighing in on the aesthetics of their neighborhoods.

McKinney requires at least 85 percent masonry materials on much of the new construction.

"You've bought in a neighborhood, an area of the city that you've felt was aesthetically protected and then all of a sudden that bar was gone and anyone can build anything they want next to you material-wise," Fuller said. "It's going to affect property owners values."

In Anna, the city council passed a resolution this week, urging the governor not to sign the legislation.

"Without the ability to shape and direct the look and feel of our local community, the high desirability of certain areas is going to wane," said Anna City Councilman John Beazley.He says the legislation will undermine the guidelines set by a citizen-lead neighborhood standards advisory committee and impact what future development would look like in Anna.

"Not one bit of feedback from those committees said we want lower building standards," Beazley said.

Advocates for the bill say it's meant to keep building costs down and prevent cities from requiring certain vendors.

The bill does have exceptions for historical, cultural and architecturally significant areas along with buildings developed with the "Main Street" program.

But Fuller contends the legislation comes down to local control and how much the state should have when it comes to developing communities.

"You're taking it away and you're putting it with legislators that live in Beaumont and Houston and everywhere but McKinney," he said.

 

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