The Waxahachie Planning and Zoning Commission voted to increase the height restrictions in the city from two stories to six stories for general retail within the Planned Development District.

The amendment came before the commission’s consideration during its regular meeting Tuesday inside the Waxahachie City Council chambers. According to the staff report, the maximum height allowed in the Waxahachie Zoning Ordinance for General Retail is two stories, while the maximum height for multi-family zoning is three stories.

However, Lookout Group vice president Mike Siefert was concerned those height restrictions might deter potential hotel developments from coming to the area. Siefert filed a request for an amendment to the commission to remove any height restriction for hotels within the Planned Development District. The district is located on the southeast corner of Highway 287 and Interstate Highway 35-East, next to the Waxahachie Civic Center.

While city staff was open to the possibility of raising the height restrictions, senior planner Colby Collins stated they wouldn’t consider removing restrictions altogether, adding that could lead to a surge of unregulated development in the district.

“While staff did understand the reasonings from the applicant, staff isn’t open to just not allowing any restrictions on hotels,” Collins elaborated. “We want to maintain the character of the district.”

Staff recommended to the commission increasing the height restriction to six stories instead, with Collins rationalizing that the Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Waxahachie is also six stories and fits well within the district’s mold.

Planning and Zoning commission member Jim Phillips concurred with Collins’ assessment, stating that hotel developments larger than six stories would be too much capacity for that district.

“I wouldn’t want five, 15-story hotels immediately around there,” Phillips expressed. “Six stories, I feel, makes sense in that area of the city.”

With Siefert owning 10 acres of undeveloped land in that area, Foundry Commercial broker Brian Brooks stated those height restrictions would fit healthier development needs than the pre-existing two-story height restrictions would.

“I don’t foresee there being a 20-story building in that location,” Brooks expressed. “Four? Without a doubt. We don’t feel there’s a demand for anything above four to six stories.”

The commission unanimously approved the amendment the city’s zoning ordinance. The amendment advances to the city council’s meeting on Monday, April 15 for approval.