The language in Powell's proposed zoning amendment needs to be cleaned up, council members said.

The language in Powell's proposed zoning amendment needs to be cleaned up, council members said.

Council members discussed the proposed amendment Oct. 20 and said they had varied interpretations of its requirements.

To improve clarity, council member Richard Cline said, "We've got to clean the language up."

The planned-district code amendment references the "Pedestrian Scale Design Guidelines Manual" developed by the city staff and contract architect Chris Meyers. Council would adopt the manual and code changes.

"The purpose of the guideline is to get everyone on the same page from the beginning of the process. In the few years I've been helping on planning and zoning, the people come in and are a little clueless as to what the expectations of the community really are," Meyers said.

The guidelines include photographs, illustrations and wording that depict various ways that buildings, even larger ones, can be constructed to make "an area or neighborhood designed to encourage and support pedestrian traffic."

Council members differed on their interpretation of the amendment which says the "manual shall be utilized by the property owners as a guideline for developing proper pedestrian scale design features." And it says that the city's P&Z commission and council "may utilize" the manual as a guideline.

Mayor Tom Counts interpreted the language as saying the "manual shall be utilized by property owners and council may use the guidelines" in approving the plans, requiring the property owner to submit pedestrian scale plans, but giving council the flexibility to decide if the guidelines are met.

Cline said he was "not ready" to "adopt a policy that says that the default position of the city is pedestrian scale design guidelines are preferred over all else."

Dan Wiencek and David Lackey thought the pedestrian scale design should be a requirement and not flexible.

"Our current comprehensive plan and general consensus of the community is that there are no exceptions," Wiencek said. "I'd rather not design a zoning ordinance that seeks the rare exception." He said he wants one that

"meets 98 percent of the existing and foreseeable development within the city (with) a variance process to deal with that one exception."

Don Grubbs said, "I didn't read it to say that this manual's guidelines are the default position; I read this as an illustration of our purpose to give (property owners) more information."

Meyers said the "underlying tone" is that the developments be "responsive to their context" and fit with the developments around it.

The city's law director, Gene Hollins, said he and the staff will rework the language.

bbutcher@thisweeknews.com