Sunset Hills Planning and Zoning recommends approval of city’s zoning code rewrite


By Lucas Irizarry, Staff Reporter

Several amendments were added to the Sunset Hills unified development ordinance and zoning map by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission July 6, resulting in a recommendation of approval by the commission. The UDO now goes to the Board of Aldermen for final approval and adoption. 

The rewrite of the UDO has been going on for the past five years and, as explained by City Engineer Bryson Baker, it is meant to create some consistency between properties and city code.

“If we had an area that was zoned R-2, but all of the properties were more R-3, we rezoned to R-3,” Baker said. “When they go to put an addition … on the property, they need that zoning. It’s easier on the resident.”

The last time the commission recommended the UDO to the Board of Aldermen was in September, but since then the board has made several changes during work sessions. The changes were included in the new document along with a few staff recommended changes.

Changes include a short-term rental definition and the reinstatement of planned development zoning districts. 

The need for a short-term rental definition arose in the city with a recent ordinance meant to ban Airbnbs. The ordinance was tabled by aldermen due to a lack of confidence in current code addressing “tourist homes” and short-term rentals. The new short-term rental definition in the UDO bans any rental of any part of a house for less than 30 days within the city.

The reinstatement of the planned development zoning would “provide a means of achieving greater flexibility in development of land in a manner not always possible in conventional zoning districts,” according to the UDO. This would “encourage a more imaginative and innovative design of projects” within the community.

Changes suggested by the commission mostly included eliminating or changing sections which did not have specific timeframes and instead said things like “in a reasonable amount of time.” Commissioner Mike Svoboda also suggested a more specific scale for impervious surface. The changes will be added before the next Board of Aldermen meeting June 12 — after The Call went to press.

The UDO features 12 zoning districts, six less than current code. These include six residential, parks and non-urban, two commercial districts, one industrial and one office. The highest density residential district, R-6, features 5,000-square-foot-minimum lot sizes.

A draft of the UDO is on the city’s website.