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City to revamp zoning ordinance
Food trucks, building height limits, electric fences all under review
food truck
The Turlock City Council is expected to discuss the City's Zoning Ordinance, including the current ban on mobile food trucks in the downtown core, at its Jan. 13 meeting. - photo by Journal file photo

The new year is fast approaching and so is the Turlock City Council’s consideration of repealing the city’s Zoning Ordinance in its entirety, meaning permitting requirements for uses, development standards and permitting processes in all zoning districts will be affected.

Over the past three to four years the City has received concerns from residents and local businesses regarding zoning regulations, indicative of the fact that as towns expand and evolve so do the rules that guide development. In an effort to collectively address the diverse issues, City staff have proposed a complete overhaul of the Zoning Ordinance.

 “The times change and the community’s values change,” said City Planner Rose Stillo in November. “It’s kind of like a freshening up to reflect today’s climate.”

The aim of the new ordinance is to bring it into consistency with the 2012 General Plan and the changes were approved in a 4-3 vote by the Planning Commission at their March 6 meeting.

Some of the new rules include prohibiting “mobile food facilities in the Downtown Core, Downtown Core Transition and Office Residential overlay district” as well as changing permitting processes. For instance, the requirements for smaller expansions of nonconforming uses and structures, if approved, will require a minor discretionary permit instead of a conditional use permit. Therefore, applicants may only need to interface with city staff for approval rather than appearing before the Turlock Planning Commission.

Other changes include an increase in height limit for the Office Residential and Industrial Residential zoning districts as well as a reduction in landscaping requirements. Due to the ongoing drought in California, commercial businesses stand to reduce their landscaping requirement from 25 percent to 15 percent at the recommendation of the Development Collaborative Advisory Committee. The new Zoning Ordinance will also address new issues that have cropped up with the establishment of the Turlock Regional Industrial Park, such as a resident that requested the establishment of an electric fence.

“This is something that, if the proper conditions are met, we can address,” said Stillo.

There are also minor amendments proposed to Turlock’s downtown “not intended to change the overall goals and objectives of the current Downtown Plan and Zoning Regulations” but to ensure that new lots continue to follow the existing downtown pattern. According to the council synopsis, the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association “did not necessarily agree with all of the designations recommended by staff.”

The Turlock City Council’s first meeting of 2015, at which the new Zoning Ordinance will be discussed, is set for 6 p.m. Jan. 13 at City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.