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Leander moves forward on residential architectural pattern book

Adding a pattern book of acceptable architectural styles may provide future home buyers more design options, officials say

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The Leander City Council approved the creation of a residential pattern book at  their Oct. 19 meeting that may provide future home buyers with a broader variety of architectural styles to choose from. 

While still in the process of being finalized, officials hope the pattern book will provide a new, optional set of design standards to provide more variety for residential architecture in the community. 

“With the pattern book, we’ll have more beautiful houses in Leander,” said Tom Yantis, assistant city manager and project leader.

The concept for a new architecture pattern book was first approved by the City Council in June, where a four step process was laid out. Throughout the summer, city staff compiled an inventory of existing historic house styles in Leander to serve as examples of architectural principles — being of sound design and structure — in addition to more modern styles. Workshops and seminars with homebuilders and realtors followed to determine the best approach for implementing a pattern book for the city.

The book is scheduled to be completed and reviewed by a committee of interested homebuilders in early 2018. The Council will then present the revised book in a public meeting, collect feedback, and present it to Planning and Zoning for formal adoption.

Yantis said the pattern book will allow homebuilders more freedom to build and design outside of the city’s type A and type B architectural component restrictions. Both types regulate the amount of masonry such as brick, stone and stucco currently required on exterior walls and the various design elements allowed.

“There are some styles of homes, such as arts and crafts and farmhouse styles that wouldn’t look right with those materials,” he said. “You can still follow the existing standards of Type A and Type B, but with the new pattern book we will have more variety and choices for home buyers.”

For example, homebuilders such as the retro-themed Starlight Village and the Cottages at Crystal Falls had to take the more expensive route of getting permission from City Council through a planned unit development (PUD) process to build outside of the city restrictions. With a pattern book, those developments would have had the ability to opt in and utilize the book instead of building a zoning district.

Throughout the process, home builders have expressed positive interest in the pattern book to the City Council.

“They like this idea of building something different than what’s been required in the past,” said Councilwoman Michelle Stephenson. “They feel it gives them a chance to be more creative.”

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