The town of Frisco’s planning commission is inviting the public to have a say in the design and makeup of area buildings Thursday evening.
The community input session is one of many the town will host through the remainder of the year, and into 2014, as it reviews and updates the town’s zoning codes.
Zoning codes regulate land uses, such as where commercial and residential buildings can be developed. They also provide guidelines about the physical design of development in the town.
Town representatives said the last comprehensive update of Frisco’s zoning codes occurred in the 1980s, so it’s a good time to review what’s working and what’s not.
“Some of the codes have been around for 20 to 25 years, and life changes,” said planning commissioner Dodie Davies.
The planning commission has been discussing potential changes to modernize its zoning rules, including how many residential units are allowed at certain sites, the size and mass of new development and what kinds of uses, such as residential and commercial, should be permitted in certain areas.
“We are always happy to have input from people who are out there in the community every day,” Davies said. “Sometimes as an individual group you can get blinded by different things. We have found that opening it up for a public conversation has been helpful to get different perspectives.”
The zoning code update, coined Plan It Frisco, is part of a bigger project. Town officials have hired Clarion, a planning and land use regulation firm, to review the codes as well, said Frisco’s community development director Jocelyn Mills.
Clarion’s assessment has incorporated interviews with builders, developers, property owners, town staff and elected officials, Mills said. The firm’s review is likely to include suggestions for streamlining planning processes in the future, Mills said, and should be complete by the end of the year.
“In the meantime, the planning commission and town council directed staff to review the current codes relative to the mass, bulk and density (of buildings) and see if we want to make any changes,” Mills said. “That’s what’s in front of the planning commission on Thursday.”
The public’s input will influence the recommendations the planning commission provides to the town council.
The commission’s main areas of focus are the Central Core Zone District (Main Street to the north and the south half of Granite and Galena streets) and the Mixed Use Zone District (primarily along West Main Street).
Mills said no major code revamps are planned at this time; rather, the changes will be tweaks. Those include proposals to alter the uses and setbacks on Main Street and the Granite/Galena street overlay districts.
“Over time, Galena Street, Main Street and Granite Street have developed differently, with different personalities,” Mills said. “We are looking at how those buildings appear by design and how we want to see them built in the future. We are also recognizing that we want people to be able to live near downtown to keep it vibrant.”
Planning commissioners have been following the direction outlined in the Frisco Community Plan when considering changes to the zoning code, Mills said. This vision encourages land use and architectural styles that fit a mountain-town identity and strives for development that incorporates sustainable design, material and practices, she said.
“The Frisco Community Plan does a good job of spelling that out, but to work through the details it’s critically important that the community is there to help facilitate what those changes look like,” she said.
The public is invited to a planning commission meeting on potential changes to the mixed-use and central core zoning rules on Thursday, Oct. 17, at 5 p.m. at Town Hall, 1 Main St. For more information, call (970) 668-5276.