Growth and investment have made Denton an envious spot, for both new residents and developers. But some say the city's development code is outdated. Denton officials are closer to changing that.
"There are so many downtowns that don't have what we have," said John Cartwright, a restaurant owner who is also president of the Denton Main Street Association. He's been a resident of Denton since the mid 1990's and a building owner since 2011.
Even during that time, Denton has seen rapid growth. City government leaders are revamping guidelines for that growth, which is expected to continue well into the future.
"One can only imagine what it might look like if we didn't have any kind of standards of development code in place," said Cartwright.
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Tuesday, Denton city council was scheduled to hold a public hearing on the issue – the latest move toward a new development code. The process began in 2013, and has included well over one hundred meetings since then. The code will define who can build what in Denton, and where.
"We want to make sure we have responsible development," said Scott McDonald, Denton's director of developmental services. "We want to plan our growth and make sure our growth is going to be better for us today as well as well into the future."
The development code update and proposed zoning changes affect virtually every property owner in Denton. When the city mailed out information regarding proposed changes, it received more than 700 responses from people concerned about everything from rapid growth to the number of apartment complexes being built.
"It's a challenging balance between our citizens and developers in our community," said McDonald. "It always is in every community, but what we've created is a transparent, open process."
Denton's current development code dates back to 2002, when the city's population was 50,000 people less than it is now. Cartwright says downtown today is almost unrecognizable, compared to what it was twenty years ago. The change from mom and pop-type businesses to restaurants and entertainment isn't a bad thing, he says. The area is vibrant. He wants to keep it that way.
"The standards will help us maintain that," he said.