The long-term vision for Ardmore’s future is coming into focus.
Jessica Scott, City of Ardmore director of development services, said the city is less than 12 months away from adopting a Unified Code Ordinance, a vigorous city-wide collection of residential, commercial and transportation ordinances intended to set the Ardmore Comprehensive Plan into motion.
Beginning in 2015, Chicago-based firm Houseal Lavigne Associates started working on the Ardmore Comprehensive Plan, a $180,338, 129-page document providing a plan of action to transform the city into an idyllic destination for future residents.
Now the company is in the implementation process, working on the specifics of the code to start building the blueprints they laid out, Kevin Boatright, Ardmore assistant city manager, said.
The Unified Code Ordinance is where the rubber meets the road.
“We, as a city, asked ‘what do we want for Ardmore — what do we want to become?’ The Comprehensive Plan is the roadmap,” Scott said. “Adopting a Unified Code Ordinance is where we start to bring that vision about.”
The city began the code process in January. Scott said It was time for a change.
“It’s long overdue, but we had to have the Comprehensive Plan first. We needed to know where our city needed to be so we could redo our codes to help us get to that vision,” Scott said. “A safe environment —  friendly, inviting — a good place to live. That’s what we want to get to.”
“These codes are going to help establish that.”
After hearing recommendations from Houseal Lavigne, city officials will present their recommendations at a yet to be scheduled public hearing. Afterward, Scott said there will be an amendment process and a recommendation process before adopting the new codes into law.
City officials and Houseal Lavigne Associates are beginning to tackle how to implement the plan for Ardmore’s future, Boatright said.
“The same firm that developed the city-wide comprehensive plan is going down to more specifics,” he said. “They’re going to the actual Unified Development Code. How you would like things to grow in the future and implementing them to achieve that goal.”
The last time a Unified Code Ordinance was addressed in Ardmore was in 1998. Times have certainly changed in 20 years.
And while there have been amendments throughout, Scott said the UCO is big.
“This is the first full revitalization,” Scott said. “We’re talking 20 years. Some of the codes are outdated. New uses have come about that the code doesn’t even address. Talk about cell phone towers, it’s a newer use. So much exists now that didn’t back then.”
The changes Scott said she hopes to adopt are land use changes, residential and commercial ordinances that will foster the growth of Ardmore long-term.
The codes are set to tackle blight, increase safety and increase access. A street light ordinance, one that didn’t exist in the prior code, is being pushed, Scott said.
“We want Ardmore to look like a safe inviting place, a place that encourages growth and development. we’re going to refine the way Ardmore looks,” Scott said.
The UCO could change the way Ardmore works, eats and shops, too.
Scott said one thing Ardmoreites might see in the future are all major corridors becoming commercial zoned areas.
“You know we’d really like to see commerce down Commerce,” she said. “Down South Commerce all the way to Highway 70. You’ll see some recommended zoning changes that will bring business.”
At the last public hearing, the hot-button issue was changing the housing code which prohibited detached residences known as garage apartments, or mother-in-law quarters, said Scott.
“People really want those back, but our code just doesn’t allow for it,” she said.  “That was a huge, hot issue. I was like Ok, I’m not opposed to it. I think if that’s what our city needs then that’s what we need to do.”
She said downtown Ardmore’s revitalization will be kickstarted by the Code Ordinance, fostering the aesthetics and hoping to both attract new business and retain current shops.
A few specific codes under consideration would require tenants to use the buildings as more than storage space and remove paper and other obstructions from shop windows.
Enforcing the changes would start with permits.
“The plan outlined changes to access, development, and aesthetics really. The way that we reach that is when someone comes into build, let’s say a house, we say you’re going to have to plant grass, two trees or you need a sidewalk and street lights. If it’s, let’s say a Chik-Fil-A, your parking lot has to have islands with grass and landscaping — It can’t be this close to the street.’
“Those ordinances make the changes possible. They have to be in place for us to require those changes.”