Nacogdoches City Council added a change to the city’s stipulations on commercial lots next to residential property during a teleconferenced meeting Tuesday.

“This particular item doesn’t impose any additional regulations or restrictions on development,” City Planning Director Alaina Chafin told the council. “It simply applies some additional flexibility and alternatives to the current standards.”

Developers will now have the option to substitute a “living screen” such as a hedge wall with 15-foot landscape buffer in place of a dividing fence. The amendment also provides exceptions to mandated fences when properties abut natural features such as a floodway or creek.

“Having two major creeks (running through) the community, there’s several instances where a commercial property can take advantage of some of these new provisions, specifically the ones related to natural features,” Chafin said.

An example is the northwest corner of University Drive and Main Street, where a property sloping toward the creek bed is edged with thick vegetation.

“It provides just as much effective buffer as a six-foot wooden fence does and in some instances might act as an asset,” she said.

A public hearing for the item drew no speakers Tuesday, and council approved the motion unanimously.

“This looks great. I’m excited about this,” commented Councilwoman Amelia Fischer, with other council members appearing to share her enthusiasm.

An ongoing review is examining all city ordinances, Chafin said, to ascertain how they meet current needs and promote smart growth.

Workshops will be planned for changes that are more complex, or that increase regulations, she said.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Councilman Jay Anderson and Councilman Roy Boldon were both sworn in for new terms, neither having drawn an opponent by the February deadline.

The teleconferenced council meetings are a COVID-19 precaution made possible by order of Gov. Greg Abbott, who in April suspended provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Act to allow government bodies to meet virtually so long as they allow public input.

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