By Drew Butler
In 2017, the City of Ardmore hired Houseal Lavigne, a community planning agency out of Chicago, to develop a comprehensive plan outlining the ways the city would like to grow. To develop the plan, they held numerous public meetings and spoke with multiple community members.
Last year, Houseal Lavigne came back and began working on updating the city’s unified development code. The unified development code outlines the city’s zoning and rules pertaining to each of the zones. They held workshops concerning residential areas, commercial areas and industrial areas to determine what changes the community would most like to see.

Thursday afternoon, representatives presented the first draft of the new code to the city planing commission.
Community Development Director Jessica Scott said the new code would be more user friendly and a better fit for 21st century development.
“The current plan was written in 1998 by the city planner at the time,” Scott said. “He did the best he could with an earlier version of the code that was written in the 70s, but it actually contradicts itself in a few areas.”
She added that the current version of the code has restrictions and guidelines scattered throughout the various chapters, but the new code will have them in one easy-to-find location.
Carly Petersen, an associate with Houseal Lavigne, said contradictions like this are common in older codes. She also said that older codes can make modern development overly complicated.
“The way things are built now have changed, so the old code can make development difficult,” Petersen said. “The update will make it clearer to read and understand along with graphics to make it easier to interpret.”
Scott said that the updated code will be very much informed by the comprehensive plan, and that all changes made to the code will help the city realize the plan.
One of the changes proposed include updating the rules regarding residential construction. In particular, changing some of the requirements in areas of town with small lot  sizes. In older areas of town, some of the lots are as small as 50 feet by 50 feet, and the current rules in place make it difficult for anything new to be built there. The updated code would loosen those restrictions as long as the new structure were a good fit with the existing nearby homes.
Another proposed change would alter the standards for commercial parking and allow businesses to build parking in the rear of their facilities.
“This would get the businesses closer to the street but we would still require the landscaping, the sidewalk and the green buffer,” Scott said.