The Waxahachie City Council approved amending section 34 of the zoning ordinance during its meeting Monday night, adding new design requirements to the city’s construction regulations and changing requirements for exterior materials.

The amendment addresses masonry and non-masonry exterior material requirements, criteria for applications, procedures for approval and exceptions to for certain requirements.

“This ordinance really overhauls our existing ordinance, creating an equal playing field for all materials and a uniform application process for both masonry and non-masonry materials,” Assistant City Manager Michael Scott told the council. “Essentially, the wholesale change relates to evaluating building permits based on architectural standards, not just on exterior materials themselves.”

The amendments will help bring the zoning ordinance nearer the proposed standards set forth in the city’s comprehensive plan, Scott said.

Dan Tresch and Kevin Young of James Hardie spoke in favor of the amendments.

Tresch asserted that “bad design is not only found on houses with siding,” illustrating his point with photographs of tract homes built in Waxahachie that met the previous masonry requirement but which lack the design elements required by the new ordinance.

The new standards will make new construction “not only about materials, but about design itself” resulting in better and more unique design, Tresch said.

Young also supported the amendment, adding, “We’re very proud to be part of this community, and are very proud to be able to contribute the way we do.”

Councilman Joe Gallo said the new ordinance “is about changing the landscape … in Waxahachie,” adding that in his opinion, the new standards would probably be “one of the most significant things” he does during his term on the council.

Acknowledging that some aspects of the ordinance could be improved, Gallo called the amendments “a heckuva starting point.”

Councilman Ron Wilkinson voiced his opposition to the design amendments, saying he would like them reviewed and approved by a licensed architect.

“I think we have an obligation to make the ordinance the very best we can,” Wilkinson said, voicing reservations about what he called “functional discrepancies” in the amendments.

Those discrepancies include required porch sizes and gables that do not lead into “useable” space, Wilkinson said.

Following the discussion, Gallo moved to approve the ordinance, a motion seconded by Councilman Buck Jordan. The ordinance passed, with Wilkinson recording the sole “nay.”

In other business, the council approved moving forward with the senior citizens center.

Architect Anthony Mottla prepared the plans, which include a quarter-mile walking track and 122 spaces for parking. Chief building inspector Sanford Smith will review the plans prior to their going out for bids, Stevens said.

Mottla estimated the construction process will take about 12 months once ground is broken.

In other business, the council:

Continued the public hearing about proposed assessments and assessment roll within Waxahachie Public Improvement District No. 1 Approved the preliminary plat of Saddle Ridge, a 96-acre subdivision located on the corner of Lone Elm Road and Farm-to-Market Road 875 Approved the preliminary plat of Belle Meadows Gated Community, a 40-acre subdivision on Cantrell Street Approved the site plan for a single story retail office building to be built on the southwest corner of Indian Drive and U.S. Highway 77 Approved a specific use permit within a heavy industrial zoning district for a tanker-trailer cleaning operation, located at 4300 Interstate Highway 35E North Approved the replatting of Lofland Development Addition, located at 4300 I-35E Appointed council representatives to various boards and commissions Met in executive session to discuss “pending or contemplated litigation” and/or to consult with the city’s attorney.

The Waxahachie City Council will next meet at 7 p.m. Monday, June 18, at City Hall, 401 S. Rogers St.

E-mail Anthony at Anthony.Trojan@waxahachiedailylight.com