Lubbock’s ad hoc Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee voted Tuesday to recommend a new land use plan for the city.
This new plan, which is essentially a colored map, will dictate the land use across the city — breaking it down into residential, commercial, industrial, public space and several other possible uses. It goes beyond city limits, too, in case of future annexations.
An updated land use plan hasn’t been made for the city of Lubbock since the mid-1980s, so when the 30-member citizen committee was first appointed back in May, its first task was to craft a new interim land use map to serve as a guide for development decisions. With such an outdated map, zoning changes, road projects, utility construction and city services have most recently been reactionary in newer parts of the city.
“This is all tied to the growth of the city,” said committee chairman John Zwiacher. “It’ll give us some continuity. If it’s a developer developing a neighborhood or a developer that’s developing commercial, it gives them continuity.”
What the committee unanimously approved Tuesday will be sent to the Planning and Zoning Commission for consideration. What the Planning and Zoning Commission votes to recommend will then be sent to the Lubbock City Council for final approval.
“This is proposed land uses of how this group feels like this land would be best used,” Dan Wilson, chairman of the city’s planning and zoning commission, said before the vote Tuesday.
“Does it have to be used based on the color of this map? The answer is no, that’s why we will continue to have zone cases,” Wilson said. “However, what happens now is here come all these zone cases and we as planning commissioners are approving cases that do not agree with the 1986 map … the benefit of this (new) map is now when planning and zoning commissioners are voting on a case, the planning and zoning department and the commissioners, most of the time will be on the same page.”
It’s an interim map because the committee circle back to it once the “comprehensive” aspect of it is discussed. Immediately after the land use map was approved Tuesday afternoon, representatives of Freese and Nichols, the hired consultants, outlined the decisions to be made next. Some of the key topics to be hashed out in the future are where major thoroughfares and corridors should go, where the city needs to start preparing for infrastructure needs, how those infrastructure needs are paid for, zoning for more parks and public spaces, and needs for downtown and existing neighborhoods.
This interim land use plan gives the city something to work with until the final comprehensive land use plan is complete.
In general, the new map spreads residential areas farther to the south and west, and confines industrial areas in North and East Lubbock. Along the outskirts of the city is low-density residential. It’s much more diverse than the current map. For example, something the committee discussed was how to prevent cookie-cutter neighborhoods — where retail is at intersections with neighborhoods in between like the map currently reads.
The new recommended map allows light commercial, office space and semi-public institutions along major thoroughfares. Residential properties may also get built, but the committee wants flexibility should commercial properties also want to go in. Zwiacher said with this new zoning, residents who move into homes near thoroughfares will be warned that commercial properties could get built nearby.
Something the committee will follow up on is distinguishing large commercial property from smaller, retail shops in its zoning. The city’s current zoning code does not differentiate between these two, so the current map has one designation — commercial.
The committee originally had areas farthest from the city zoned as rural residential, meaning no more than one home per acre of land. This has been changed now to low-density residential, which still allows for those rural homes, but also flexibility for more dense uses.
A common emphasis throughout the meeting Tuesday was that this is not the final land use map. It’ll likely get tweaked by members of the planning and zoning commission, as well as the city council. Even still, the comprehensive land use committee will ultimately recommend a more detailed map sometime next year after the “big picture” items are discussed.