LUBBOCK, Texas – After four and a half years of work, the City of Lubbock’s new and improved Unified Development Code (UDC) will officially take effect on Sunday, Oct. 1.

The zoning codes have been around since 1975, and haven’t been updated in years. Some of the new updates include fewer zoning districts.

“As we were developing this document, we held so many citizen meetings, different times of day, different locations in the city, just trying to make it easy for anyone and everyone to come give their input on it,” said Kristen Sager, director of planning for the City of Lubbock.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, many citizens said they still had major concerns with some of the changes to the UDC.

As a tenured architect, Mary Crites said that some things should not be seen as arbitrary. 

“Public opposition during both the Overton and the 19th Street student housing zone cases, that the council voted down, included strong concern about insufficient parking, and both of those zoning cases had higher parking ratios than what would be required under the new UDC,” Crites said. “Zoning and code minimums almost always become maximums.”

Sager said the parking requirements of the previous code were excessive.

“Those parking ratios had been reduced, and the council wanted to continue with those reduced ratios because a lot of times, that parking is just not needed,” Sager said. “You don’t need that much.” 

Height has troubled residents in Tech Terrace and South Overton over the last several years with potential student housing complexes. 

“The vast majority of what is becoming High-Density Residential (HDR) used to be that you can build a 40-feet, 3-story building,” said Richard Murphy, a 15-year Tech Terrace resident. “Thanks to the Vertical-Mixed Use standard of the HDR, that’s going to nearly double to 75-feet. It does seem to me that there’s a bit of the cart before the horse going on here.”

Stephen Faulk spoke at Tuesday’s city council meeting and asked them to bring down the maximum height for a Vertical-Mixed Use project from 75-feet to 45-feet. 

“You’ve witnessed the emotions and the concerns of citizens that put you in those chairs concerning the heights of those buildings,” Faulk said. “It’s of concern to me that two projects were voted down and now with the UDC, the door comes wide open.”

Sager said the council didn’t budge.

“[The] council wanted to keep the 75-feet because that gives us the opportunity to have your first floor retail space with that 15-foot ceiling, and then have four or five stories of apartments on top of that,” Sager said.

Sager said there are provisions in the updated UDC that were made with the affected residents top of mind.

“It’s going to have a 50-foot rear setback, a landscape buffer yard between that district and the residential area behind it,” Sager said. “It’s going to allow the opportunity for those mixed-use developments and those apartments, while still protecting the neighborhood adjacent to it.”

Even though the new UDC takes effect Oct. 1, there are still ten amendments approved that will need a second reading. If those amendments are approved once again by council on Oct. 10, they will take effect on Oct. 30.

To see the updated Unified Development code, click here.