Texas Senate and House bills set to supersede existing city zoning and remove building height restrictions.

Senator Bryan Hughes (Tyler/Texarkana area) and Representative Cole Hefner (Sulphur Springs/Mount Pleasant area) filed companion bills that will change existing city zoning by removing building height restrictions in designated cities. SB 491 - HB 2198

What Does This Mean in Austin?

In the central part of the city, development styles are changing to more intense mixed-use development. However, in suburban areas, the zoning practices of low density commercial construction adjacent to residential uses serves as a buffer between major commercial and residential developments.

These bills would end the height limits and allow construction of taller buildings near single-family homes. The wording of the bill specifies that compatibility rules, such as those in Austin, which extend to 500 feet in residential areas, would change to within 50 feet of the proposed project.

With the growth in the Texas population, many cities, both large and small, struggle with new development styles that include more housing. Each city has its own blend of traditions and ways of proceeding into the future. It is only through cooperation that all the people can plan a way to move forward. 

Regardless of our views on how development should proceed, it is important that the people affected have a voice. This state law will remove a community's ability to chart its own future.

Excerpts from Bills

(a) This section applies only to a municipality with a population of more than 725,000.

(b) A municipality may not adopt or enforce an ordinance, regulation, or other measure that limits the height of a building on a lot based on the lot’s proximity to another lot that is located more than 50 feet from the original lot. 

(c) The prohibition described by Subsection (b) applies to a zoning regulation that limits the maximum building height authorized for a lot. 

(d) For purposes of this section, the proximity of a lot to another lot is measured along the shortest straight line between each lot’s lot line. 

(e) This section does not affect the application of any restriction imposed by Chapter 3151,Government Code.  

Section Explanations

Cities with populations exceeding 725,000 people include Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and Ft Worth.

Building height restricted by nonadjacent lots can be observed along Jollyville Road, which became a transition area as population and vehicle traffic grew. Low density commercial and multi-family uses are allowed on lots fronting the street and adjacent to existing residential developments. 

The City of Austin’s Capitol View Corridors are exempted from this proposed law.

Follow the bill status at the links. Scroll to the end for options to read entire bill.

SB 491
HB 2198

If this issue is of interest, please contact your senator and representative to express your views.

The following links go to main congressional pages that have all the contact details.

Sarah Eckhardt is the senator for most of the neighborhood (Travis County).

Pete Flores is the senator for the far north part of the neighborhood (Williamson County).

Senator Eckhardt
Senator Flores

Vikki Goodwin is the representative of most of the neighborhood (Travis County).

John Bucy III is the representative for the far north part of the neighborhood (Williamson County).

Representative Goodwin
Representative Bucy