Brenham Planning and Zoning Commissioners met in workshop Monday to discuss potential city ordinance changes regarding the use of government-owned facilities and places of worship.
The Commission went over possible ordinance text amendments to redefine and give more specific parameters for the uses related to those institutions. Commissioners also discussed the uses of other institutions within the city’s residential zoning districts that are of educational, charitable, or philanthropic nature.
Project Planner Shauna Laauwe said the city needs to clear up current inconsistencies in its current ordinance in order to prevent complications with any incoming development requests in residential zoning districts.
Laauwe said Institutional Uses, which are not currently covered in the ordinance, would be defined as “Government (federal or state) owned structures, facilities and uses as well as primary and secondary schools and accessory facilities, but not to include penal or mental institutions”.
Primary and secondary schools are currently listed as specific uses in residential districts. Government owned structures, facilities and uses would also be specific uses. Options for allowing as a permitted use with site restrictions could be considered.
Laauwe also had concerns about using the definition of “church”, saying while the term has not been challenged at this point, it is not very encompassing of all faiths. She said updating the term should help prevent against any perceived religion discrimination.
Commissioner Calvin Kosse said, speaking as a pastor, that he believes Jesus Christ created a church, not a place of worship.
City staff have also proposed that places of worship that do not provide a day school or day care program, and are on the site of an acre or less, be allowed as a permitted use in residential zoning districts.
Laauwe said this change would benefit smaller neighborhood churches that have minimal adverse impacts on the surrounding area. However, several commissioners voiced their concerns on the proposition, citing potential parking issues. Commissioner Lynette Sheffield said she would not want a church going into a neighborhood without that neighborhood’s approval.
Laauwe said staff will come back to the commission within the next few months with specific language on possible changes to ordinance definitions.
Also at their meeting Monday, commissioners held public hearing on and approved:
- A replat of two lots in the Duncan and Robert subdivision, containing approximately 20.1 acres of land south of the intersection of Highway 36 and Blue Bell Road.
- A replat of three lots in the Pecan Street subdivision, containing approximately 2.17 acres of land at 503 and 511 Pecan Street.
- A replat of two lots and a portion of Reserve “B” in the Brenham Business Center subdivision, phase 1 and including a portion of a 32.16 acre tract to create one lot in the Brenham Business Center consisting of 29.15 acres of land at 3015 South Blue Bell Road.