Richard Kelsey

Richard Kelsey, a local attorney, speaks to Denton City Council members Tuesday. Denton is adopting a new zoning map and development rules.

Growth was on Denton’s agenda Tuesday night.

The Denton City Council adopted a new development code — zoning rights and development rules that some property owners can now take out for a test drive, but won’t be in full effect until Oct. 1. The council was still taking public comment and had not voted on the zoning map by late Tuesday.

In addition, the city adopted a resolution that enables a citizen committee to prepare for a major bond election in November.

The work on the development code has been years in the making, yet city leaders still took several hours of public testimony Tuesday to continue to refine their work. Both the city staff and the city’s consultant, Matt Goebel of Denver-based Clarion Associates, called the new code a living document.

Goebel told the Denton council that in his work with other cities, he usually breezed past any talk of how the new documents would be user-friendly. But that was a key point for Denton.

“It’s a better tool for good government,” Goebel said, adding, “You’ve got multiple conflicting ordinances out there.”

Those conflicts created headaches for property owners and city staff alike — and they will be gone for good by October.

Denton lawyer Richard Kelsey, a longtime resident, told the City Council that the current code was the third time he and his wife had been through such a change with the city. But this time they welcome the change, particularly compared to the last adoption in 2002.

“The old 2002 code was too personal, but if you were a ‘good guy,’ you got a variance if you needed it,” Kelsey said.

The old code affected the value of some of his commercial property, he said, adding, “it eroded the predictability.”

He said he and his wife, Ann Kelsey, welcome the predictability that will come with the new code.

Lee Allison, a local engineer and spokesman for a local alliance of developers, said he and his group also welcomed the predictability that will come with the new change.

“It’s so much better,” Allison said. “It’s time to put in the pilot program.”

Scott McDonald, the city’s director of development services, said Denton will allow property owners to apply for projects under the new code and try it out.

It will give the city a chance to work out any problems before everything is finalized in October, McDonald said.

Not everyone was happy, however. Longtime resident Danna Zoltner told council members that she didn’t feel the changes were ready for a vote. And Oak-Hickory Historic District homeowner Mary Anderson said she felt the project came up too fast and that they were rushing the work.

Council member Deb Armintor cast the sole vote in opposition of adopting the code, saying that, while there was “a lot to love about the new code,” she needed more time to read comments and changes that council members were provided Tuesday afternoon.

Bond election

The City Council also began appointing new people to serve on a citizens committee that will evaluate and recommend several public safety and thoroughfare projects for a $210 million bond election in November.

Before the council adopted the resolution that empowered the committee, council member Paul Meltzer offered a friendly amendment to about how to advise the committee about the size of the bond election.

Meltzer said it was important that the committee know that a smaller bond package, about $100 million or so, would not require a property tax increase to fund.

David Gaines, the city’s assistant director of finance, said the committee would be fully advised on the financial implications of the bond package.

The new appointees included Jennifer Collins, Janata Montgomery, Tammy Bradley, Karen DeVinney, Pat Smith and Peggy Capps to the committee. The council has through May to make more appointments.

The first meeting of the bond committee is scheduled for May 29.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.

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