Houston public gives input on bylaws and future development

Nearly 20 people came to the public meeting to discuss their concerns about zoning, bylaws and the community plan.

John Guenther

Nearly 20 people came to the public meeting to discuss their concerns about zoning and bylaws.

Hosted by Houston council, the meeting laid out the proposed changes to bylaws and the community plan.

John Guenther, Interim Community Planner, says the public brought forward two main concerns: pedestrian engagement and enforcement.

“If we have bylaws, we need to enforce them,” said Guenther.

There needs to be “both a carrot and a stick,” he said, explaining that you need to have both incentive for people to obey bylaws, and penalties when people don’t.

Guenther says council is discussing enforcement as they work through the community plan this summer, because the current system has no mechanism to implement penalties when people fail to abide by a bylaw.

Council is proposing a ticket system for enforcing bylaws that will make it much easier to issue penalties when people do not comply, Guenther said.

The other main concern from the public is pedestrian engagement and how people see the town when walking down the street.

“Is it an enticing town? Is it a place that draws you in and makes you want to go out and walk around?”

Guenther says that is what people want and he is looking at those issues with council and discussing how to help that process through development bylaws, facade improvement, streets, trees and landscaping.

When people travel, they stand and take photos by a landmark that captures the identity of a place, and Guenther says they are looking to bring out the identity of Houston.

“How would you describe Houston? Where is the identity?”

Guenther says those are the kinds of questions council is looking to answer.

Council will continue to hold public meetings through August to gather feedback, and the next public meeting is Thursday, August 15, at 7 p.m. in the Houston District Council Chambers.