By Sally Beauvais
Marfa’s Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council addressed a packed house Tuesday night, during the first of two joint public hearings in which they’ll be taking comments from residents about proposed changes to the city’s zoning map.
The commission is tasked with keeping the map current, as well as identifying areas where the city can create new opportunities for use — whether commercial or residential. According to city officials, the map hasn’t been updated in 10 years.
Planning and Zoning members presented a handful of recommended updates to the city’s map that they described as conservative. According to commission chair Peter Stanley, in some instances, “these are properties that are already being used in the fashion we’re simply asking they be re-zoned to.”
Several of those properties’ classifications would change from single-family use to multi-family use, including the apartments on the north side of Madrid Street, and on the corner of Spring and Columbia.
Additionally, two areas on the proposed map are re-zoned from residential to commercial, including a stretch of West Highway 90, and a group of buildings catty-corner to the courthouse.
City officials emphasized that property owners living in or leasing houses and apartments in areas that may be re-zoned as commercial will not see a change in their utility bills or taxes as long as the use of their property doesn’t change.
Public comment Tuesday night centered around how parking in areas re-zoned as commercial will be handled should the city pass the proposed changes. Other comments focused on how the city’s Planning and Zoning Ordinance — which the commission is also revising — may affect changes to the zoning map. Some asked whether it would be possible to delay a council vote on the map until after community members can see the new ordinance.
City Council member Buck Johnston advocated for working affordable housing requirements into the zoning map. Mayor Ann Marie Nafziger suggested tabling discussion of whether that might be possible until the first meeting of Marfa’s new Affordable Housing Advisory Committee.
The commission will hear one more round of public comment before City Council may vote on the proposed changes. The second hearing is scheduled for 5:30 on January 31 at City Hall.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that City Council member Buck Johnston’s concerns about affordable housing were tabled until the first meeting of Marfa’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. Tabling the issue was suggested but not agreed upon by City Council.