Started last fall, the efforts of a steering committee to update Derby’s zoning and subdivision regulations came before the Planning Commission for review at its most recent meeting in March.
A number of the proposed amendments dealt with signs and displays around town, creating a consistent definition for signs, allowing more temporary signage for celebration sales (i.e., fireworks), adding clarification on allowable stadium signage, etc.
Most notably, though, one of the proposed amendments regarding signage would prohibit murals in residential areas that are visible from public rights-of-way (i.e., streets).
City Planner Scott Knebel stated this came up due to lots of concern expressed, “enough that we would make this change,” over one incident in particular over the past the year. The incident regarded a mural displayed on political candidate Misti Hobbs’ fence that was vandalized during the most recent election season.
Hobbs’ mural was put up ahead of the vote on Kansas’ Value Them Both amendment last August – and immediately vandalized. She noted she primarily intended the mural to provide an empowering message for young women. While she stated her belief that residents “should be allowed to say something,” she also understands the action planned to address such murals facing public areas.
“There’s two sides to it,” Hobbs said. “I agree with the decision, but at the same time I think there should be a way that we’re allowed to express ourselves as well … because we do seem to have a lot of regulations.”
Another mural display does currently exist near the intersection of Georgie and James Street. Knebel noted if the zoning updates are approved, that display would become a non-conforming use – meaning it could be maintained but not replaced.
Asked by the commission if graffiti is treated the same way, Knebel clarified that graffiti is considered vandalism/a crime and handled as such.
Other changes reviewed included adjusting limitations on flag signs, increasing the number/size of temporary signs allowed for events and permitting administrative adjustments on sign height/size.
Commissioners also raised questions about the regulations on obsolete and pole-mounted signs. While those were not specifically addressed in the latest update, Knebel did point out those are code enforcement issues – with a more concerted effort being made to address such signs, especially along K-15, this past year.
Some other proposed amendments also addressed aesthetic zoning issues, like changes to fencing in front yards. The latest update would expand allowable types of fences in front yards to include wrought-iron, picket or similar styles (along with the wooden, split rail fences currently allowed) limited to 3 feet in height. Such fences also cannot include security measures/sharp points.
Also, increases were proposed for total paved area allowed on smaller residential lots while changes were suggested recommending all front parking be paved but allow parking surfaces beside/behind buildings to use crushed rock (or similar material).
The steering committee also moved to allow direct access to business districts from residentially-zoned property (in line with the K-15 Area Plan and future mixed use development) and created exceptions allowing mobile food vendors to operate at parks/schools in residential districts.
Based on recent feedback on the Meadowlark Landing development, input was also sought from the planning commission regarding screening multi-family developments from other such developments. Currently, screening is required between multi-family and single-family/two-family developments.
Direction from the commission recommended leaving regulations on multi-family screening as is, noting it is a “slippery slope” to screen between like developments, which it also pointed out such screening would be inconsistent with the city’s walkable development plan.
Following review, the commission voted to provide the feedback and set a public hearing on the zoning and subdivision amendments for April 6.