Go To Search
How Do I... - Sugar Land Resource Center

Development Code Quick Facts
Topics: Development Code | Land Use Plan Update | Newland/Telfair Application | Referendum Process

About the Development Code
What is the City’s Development Code?
The Development Code was adopted in 1997 and provides the basis for the review of projects submitted by a property owner wanting to alter or develop property within the City of Sugar Land. Components of the Development Code include zoning, sign, subdivision, building, airport zoning, and flood damage reduction regulations.

What updates were made to the Development Code as part of the recent approvals?
The updates focused on technical revisions and implementing a few high-priority policy items that include details on vested rights, planned development districts, private residential streets and the implementation of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan. The technical revisions include reorganization of sections of the Code, placing lengthy text in table formats, and adding diagrams to clarify requirements. These technical changes were made to make the Code more user-friendly.
Summary List of Changes

Has the City removed the requirements from the Development Code that apartment complexes should be only 200 units and no more than two stories?
The recent Code updates did not remove these regulations. When the Development Code was originally adopted in 1997, a concentration restriction was added to the R-4 (Multi-family Residential District) regulations. The concentration restriction required that any property developed under the Multi-family Residential (R-4) District after Sept. 23, 1997 shall not contain more than 200 units. This restriction remains in the 2015 Code update for any property developed under the R-4 zoning requirements. As a point of reference, multi-family developed recently in Telfair and Imperial was done so as part of a Planned Development (PD) District, not as a Multi-family Residential R-4 District.

What changes specifically were made to the Planned Development (PD) District regulations?
The Development Code now requires planned development (PD) zoning applications to be submitted as either Suburban or Urban. These designations provide minimum criteria for staff, the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council to consider PD applications. The recent changes had no impact on density, site distances or size of developments, and nothing in the code changed to mandate more high-density urbanization. The PD District zoning has been in place as part of the development regulations since the 1980s.

Did recent changes “urbanize” the Development Code?
There have been no changes to the development code that make it “more amenable to high-density, urbanized properties in the City.” The code does not include an urban district ordinance.

Was the Development Code update a public process?
The Development Code update process was completed in-house by staff based on input from Planning & Zoning Commission, the Development Committee, a consultant and City Council. Public hearings were held before Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council.

What role does the Development Committee play in updating the Development Code?
The Development Committee is an advisory committee to the City Manager and not a regulatory or advising board to the City Council. As part of the process, staff worked with the Development Committee to review suggestions prior to review with Planning and Zoning Commission and before submitting a recommendation to City Council.

Is the Development Committee subject to Open Meetings Act requirements?
No, however, a matrix summarizing comments and feedback from the Development Committee as well as the Planning & Zoning Commission feedback were created and used throughout the update process.

Does the updated Development Code provide for “Urban” development?
The Development Code has always allowed “urban” developments like Sugar Land Town Square, a project that is more than 10 years old. Recent development code updates formalize criteria that developers must meet when submitting Planned Development applications.

Did the updates to the Development Code remove limits on size of multi-family, high density development?
The Development Code now requires planned development (PD) zoning applications to be submitted as either suburban or urban. These designations provide minimum criteria for staff, the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council to consider PD applications. The recent updates did not change density, site distances or size of multi-family in PD developments. Nothing in the Development Code changed that removed limits on the size of apartment zoning districts. See a complete list of the updates.

About the Land Use Plan Update
Is Sugar Land City Council attempting to remove apartment limits that have long protected the City of Sugar Land from intrusive development in the proposed Land Use Plan Update?
No. The Land Use Plan recommends that stand-alone multi-family no longer be allowed in Sugar Land. Instead, any new multi-family should be integrated with other uses within developments.

Does the Land Use Plan update propose a new vision for Sugar Land of high density, urban housing?
The Land Use Plan provides policy guidance based on extensive community feedback that identifies the need to protect single-family neighborhoods and encourage the development of activity centers in appropriate locations. Excerpts from the proposed update follow:
  • “Sugar Land will encourage a walkable, bicycle-friendly, compact, mixed-use land use pattern through the establishment of regional activity centers and neighborhood centers.”
  • “Establish multiple regional activity centers, that integrate offices, retail, residential, education, recreational and civic venues.”
  • “Require all new multi-family units to be integrated with other uses in a cohesive walkable area. Prohibit new multi-family in single-use development.”

Draft policies that were recently shared with the public are posted and available for comment. These policies include guidance on:
  • developing large- and small-scale mixed-use activity centers;
  • having a variety of housing options; being a great place for businesses to locate;
  • being a great place for business to locate;
  • having a mix of service and destination amenities for residents and visitors;
  • protecting single-family neighborhoods;
  • promoting integrated and connected land uses; and
  • celebrating our history, character and diversity.

About the Referendum Process
What is the referendum process?
City Charter includes a referendum process that allows citizens to submit a petition to repeal all or part of an existing ordinance, and, if the council fails to do so, hold an election to approve or reject the ordinance.

Can the referendum process be used to amend zoning regulation?
No. State law prohibits the use of the referendum process to amend zoning regulations.

Does the state have the authority to change Sugar Land's zoning regulations?
No, not under current Texas state statutes.

Is it true that the Sugar Land Votes petition proposes "some very serious consequences to City operations"?
The petition seeks to repeal Sugar Land’s entire Development Code. The result would leave our City without any zoning regulations for at least a year.

This is Sugar Land