Sunset Hills to finalize UDO update in upcoming months after yearslong review

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By Lucas Irizarry, Staff Reporter

Sunset Hills City Engineer Bryson Baker presented possible changes to the city’s Unified Development Code at a special Board of Aldermen retreat Aug. 17.

Baker said the process of modernizing the code started in 2016 due to a lot of inconsistencies and contradictions within.

“One chapter would say one thing and another chapter would say another thing on the same subject,” Baker said.

The city chose the Houseal Lavigne firm in 2017 to help look through the code and fix contradictions and find missing areas the city might need.

Baker said a major change in the upcoming code is adding underlying zoning to planned development zoning, which is not common in similar cities. The change will add a second zoning map — the first will show planned development zoning, while the second will show whatever underlying zone is applied by the city. Baker said as long as the planned developments don’t change, no extra rules will be applied, but if a place is redeveloped, it would have to follow the underlying zoning.

The largest section of the new UDO is on Planned Unit Developments. Baker said the old code was lacking this section, so it was created from scratch. Essentially a PUD would give applicants flexibility on certain lots.

“Say we had a 5-acre residential site … and it was zoned R-1, 1-acre lot sizes. If they just followed straight zoning they could put five houses on it,” Baker said. “If they apply for a PUD they still can put five houses on it but they don’t have to be all on 1-acre lots. You could put them on 2.5 acres and the other 2.5 could be green space.”

PUDs would only apply to R-1 residential or any commercial zone, but that could change when the Planning and Zoning commission looks at the code.

The commission will see the code in September where they will have an opportunity to amend and edit it before moving it to the Board of Aldermen. Baker said the board will have a public workshop to look at it and citizens can bring any questions they may have.