The city of Bryan is navigating ways to expand by rezoning its preexisting Riverside Parkway Texas 47 Corridor to become the new Riverside Innovation Corridor that will cover 4,700 acres of land within its current city limits.
City leaders held a public input meeting July 21 at the Texas A&M RELLIS Campus to discuss potentially adopting a framework to ensure the enhanced development of the Riverside Innovation Corridor, according to Katie Williams, the city’s project planner.
“We are adopting three new zoning districts, which are going to be Riverside Innovation Research and Development, RIC Retail Services and RIC High Density Residential. We are also expanding the existing overlay district — which is kind of like some extra regulation that are on top of your standard zoning — and those will expand out 1,500 feet, past the right-of-way lines for [Texas] 47 and [Texas] 21,” she said Wednesday. “That kind of allows us to get some enhanced development even just beyond these zoning districts.”
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“So that way as you are entering this corridor you are not going to see this hard line of where this new zoning is and this is where the old zoning is, which allows us to stair step those enhancements.”
Randy Haynes, the city’s planning administrator, said they are in the early stages of providing and gathering information from citizens because this is a long-range process.
“We want to basically prepare the area by land-use regulation for development that may not happen for a very long time, and that development will happen because of business,” he said Wednesday. “If an apartment, house developer or shopping, grocery store developer decides it is good business to go there, we want to have the zoning in place to make that happen in a way that protects the millions of dollars of public investment that we have in that corridor.”
The RIC Research and Development District is going to be more of what someone would see in the biocorridor now, Williams said.
“It will be for research, office areas, laboratories and it will even kind of reflect what we have now with the health and science center and RELLIS Campus,” she said.
The RIC Retail Services District is being proposed to aim more for higher scale retail with multiple boutiques, clothing stores, accessory stores and furniture stores, she said. The RIC HD district is intended to be composed of multi‐story multifamily dwellings, condominiums and townhouses, according to city staff.
“The RS District could even be a place where you would see a grocery store in the future,” Williams said. “The High Density Residential District – this is different than our multi-family that we have now – right now we work in maximum density, and for this we are setting a minimum density. So we want to see at least 15 dwelling units per acre; right now we max out at about 20.”
City leaders are also proposing an enhancement to their existing overlay district. There have been two adopted overlay districts in the city, one in 1999 and the other in 2002, Williams said. An overlay district is a way for communities to apply area-specific standards or conditions on development, and it creates a special zoning district, which is laid over the top of a base zoning district, according to city staff.
“This will be our third overlay of the district. The previous two were to keep the area in a holding pattern. We knew this was going to be an important corridor, but we didn’t have plans for it yet,” Williams said. “So we had those higher standards with larger lots and larger landscaping to try and keep it as agricultural as possible while we came up with a plan… with this new plan we are establishing some actual regulations and some framework because we know that utilities are connected out here. … We want to get ahead of that and make sure that development is going to protect the property values and protect this entry way in both Bryan and College Station.”
Williams said during the public input meeting, residents who live near the proposed changes asked if their property values would be affected if this change comes to fruition.
“We met with the Central Appraisal District because we had questions about [property values] and we were told that changing the zoning will not have any effect on tax values or property values or anything like that,” she said. “This is really not intended to affect anyone who is there right now. The reason for this is to create that framework for when somebody sells their property in the future and they want to develop it, so we know that development is going to be happening here. … The whole point of it is really to have some outline for people to follow in the future, so we don’t intend for it to affect people right now.”
Williams said they are currently trying to find a way to make it easier on Bryan homeowners so they won’t need to get a conditional use permit just to refinance their homes.
The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing Sept. 1 regarding the Riverside Innovation Corridor. The Bryan City Council will also hold a public hearing Oct. 11.
For more information, visit bryantx.gov/riverside/.