The Searcy Planning Commission has asked Searcy City Council to create an overlay ward to “essentially protect the character and quality of the town centre, in terms of the aesthetic elements of the town centre”, according to the director of city planning and development, Richard Stafford.
The council agenda for tonight includes three proposed ordinances that the commission has requested be placed there. Stafford said at Thursday’s agenda meeting that the goal is to make downtown a work/play environment seven days a week, attracting more people.
Stafford said an overlay district will remain zoned as it is now, but properties will adhere to not only their current zoning but also overlay district regulations. He also stated that there were various changes from the regular review of the current zoning code and that there were various changes from the regular review of the current land use planning and subdivision code.
Stafford mentioned that this effort was part of downtown making it easy for pedestrians to get around with sidewalks.
In the information about the Searcy Town Center Overlay District that was shared, it is stated that the purpose of creating the district is to protect and enhance the visual appearance and character of Searcy Town Center. “It will also provide opportunities for mixed use of commercial and residential space within the district boundaries to attract and promote both business during normal weekday working hours as well as night and weekend activities. “
The district establishes a boundary around the downtown core that surrounds the White County Courthouse Square. The neighborhood is described as beginning at a point on the center line of South Main Street 205 feet south of the intersection of South Main Street and West Woodruff Avenue; then westerly 1,460 feet to a point approximately halfway down the block between West Vine and West Academy Avenues; then east 2,360 feet to a point approximately mid-block between North Oak and North Charles Streets; then south 2,390 feet; then west 900 feet to the starting point.
Under “Design and Development Standards”, it is stated that development should support the appearance and character of the historic downtown. A few points covered in this area include “metallic cladding, when used as the primary cladding, is prohibited when visible from public realm or residential areas. Other forms of metal, when used as an architectural treatment or aesthetic accent, can cover up to 20% of the facade. Masonry must occupy at least 51% of any facade of any structure. »
“Brick or brick-like elements should be the dominant masonry material. Split face block or any other textured concrete CMU block is to be used as a face base or accent only. Durable fiber cement board, poured concrete, poured concrete, stone and cultured stump materials are acceptable masonry materials. »
Council member Dale Brewer said he’s seen cities take this approach with “great success.” It not only expanded the area more with commercial businesses and whatever, but it made the place look a lot nicer, which is the whole concept, so I think that’s a good idea.
Council member Don Raney said that after thinking about it for a while he thought it was a good idea. “The one that comes to mind is the store front around the corner from the old First Security Bank. There is activity downtown all the time and those are things that I think would be good for the region.
Stafford said “the more people we can have in the area living there, the more it’s going to attract things like restaurants and other types of businesses to be 24/7. and weekends. [place].”
Council member David Morris said he was proud of the town center and that many people worked hard to keep it as it is today. He said making it an overlay district is a good move.
“I think anything we can do to preserve our downtown and keep it as active and vibrant as it is now,” Morris said. “Went by Saturday morning and the Farmers Market was lively, and I swell with pride because we have a very, very good, active downtown and it’s been that way all week.”