The drafted changes deal with building design, landscaping and tree conservation for structures and businesses that face the main arterial roads — such as Dean Avenue, Turner McCall Boulevard and Shorter Avenue — inside the Rome city limits.
Many local architects, real estate developers and businessmen spoke Thursday during the public hearing on the amendment that would provide stricter guidelines for development along the corridors.
“This will deter development in these particular areas more than anything,” local real estate developer Larry Martin said.
Only new buildings or existing ones that are heavily renovated would be required to follow the new guidelines.
After hearing from the public in attendance and some of its own members, the Planning Commission unanimously postponed a vote on the amendment and returned it to the Rome Redevelopment Committee that originated it, along with the comments that were presented at the meeting.
Two areas that struck a nerve at Thursday’s meeting were the specifications for landscaping in parking lots and the standards set forth for the design of the buildings.
In addition to the established articles concerning landscaping in the ULDC, the amendment would add that an elongated landscaped island be required for every third row of a parking lot for developments that have 50 or more spaces.
It also would require that affected buildings have special architectural features for walls visible from the corridor, and decorative roof accents for buildings with 30,000 square feet or more of floor area.
“We design some ugly buildings sometimes. I know this,” local architect Mark Cochran told the committee. “But trying to legislate a particular style for a particular era is a mistake. To assume that by following an ordinance you can make a corridor more attractive is a mistake.”
Some who spoke offered that tax incentives for certain landscaping or architectural details could be a solution.
“My biggest concern is that we would create a two-sided community,” commission member Frank Brown said. “The property along the corridors, and everything else. What is the most valuable property along the corridor would become so restricted that the property behind it would probably become more valuable.”
Brown said he would rather wait and see if the ULDC, which has only been in place since 2001, will do its job.
“I’m in favor of improvement,” Brown said. “I’m just not sure that we don’t have the improvement already in place to take care of that.”
In other actions, the commission unanimously approved revisions to the ULDC that would allow local restaurants to brew their own beer and farm distilleries or wineries open for business.
“This opens up another good business opportunity for us,” commission member Terry Jones said. “It’s good to get some clarity about it on the books.”
The amendment allows restaurants with alcohol licenses to brew beer or malt beverages on the premises and sell it in draft form.
Farm distilleries or wineries also would be permitted under the changes, as long as they get a special use permit and meet the local, state and federal standards.
A first reading of the proposed revisions will be held by the Rome City Commission and the Floyd County Commission at their respective meetings next week.