The city of Denison may soon open incentives for infill development to properties that have never been platted before. The topic was discussed Tuesday by the Denison Planning and Zoning Commission as it considered changes to the city’s infill development ordinance and related zoning overlay district, which covers many of the city’s older neighborhoods.


After a brief discussion, the item was tabled with no additional action taken in order to give staff time to assess property maps and neighboring uses.


“The purpose of the infill district is to incentivize development of those lots,” Denison Development Services Director Gabe Reaume said. “By allowing smaller lots, it allows developers to fit more lots in and support the development.”


Since 2014, the city has offered various incentives for infill development of empty lots in existing neighborhoods into low-cost housing options. These incentives range from free lots for developers to reduced permitting fees and some relaxed development requirements. In documents for the meeting, city staff said the primary purpose was to encourage reuse of lots where houses had been demolished.


However, Reaume said the city has recently been receiving inquiries regarding lots that have never been officially platted. Under the current ordinance, properties that have never been platted are not eligible for incentive programs. Among these properties is the site of the former Layne Elementary School, which was demolished about five years ago.


Since then, developers have brought other unplatted properties to the attention of city staff. Reaume said these properties include individual lots and parcels that could likely support a small subdivision.


Among the concerns raised by the commission were worries that lots that could be used for higher end properties would instead simply be redeveloped into affordable homes due to the incentives.


“I think we’re at a point where we have some infill areas that will potentially develop at a price point a step above the affordable program,” Reaume said.


Commissioner Mary Karam said her concern was that it is too early to brand some parts of the city to a particular kind or level of development. She said she is worried that it could limit the opportunities of some areas that could become a destination development with the right focus.


Board Chairman Charles Shearer noted that if plats for development follow code standards and city ordinance, the commission would be required to approve them. For his part, Shearer said his main concern was that whatever developments come from this should match existing development in the area.


“Do we anticipate seeing Fawn Meadows in one of these areas,” Shearer asked, referring to one of the higher-end subdivisions in Gateway Village, to highlight his point.


Following a vote, the item was tabled until the commission’s June meeting to allow staff the opportunity to research properties adjacent to some of the empty lots.