About the Update

The Development Code is the official document that ensures safe, orderly, and efficient development throughout the City in accordance with the Comprehensive Plan by providing for the public health, safety and general welfare of citizens. 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.

The Process

Phase 1 - Completed

On July 21, 2015, City Council adopted Phase 1 of the Development Code Update. Phase 1 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.

Phase 2 - Active

Phase 2-A of the Development Code Update focuses on Chapter 2, Zoning Regulations, and seeks to achieve the following goals:

  1. 1.Modernize the zoning use classification tables by replacing the current use classification matrix (which is based on the 1987 SIC economic-based system) with a land use based system which considers land use impacts;
  2. Consolidate parking requirements and other regulations dispersed throughout the Code into the zoning use classification tables for ease of use; and
  3. Revise permitted and conditional uses and parking requirements based on experiences in applying the Code for over 20 years, including for example:
    • Better categorizing uses so that it is clear to residents, business owners, and the development community which uses are permitted in each zoning district;
    • Within commercial zoning districts, clarifying permitted and conditional uses where they are in character with and similar to other uses in each district;
    • Formalizing commonly used restrictions in conditional use permit processes;
    • Better reflecting parking demand in the parking requirements to ensure uses are neither under- nor over-parked;
    • Basing parking requirements on constant definitive measurement units (i.e. square footage of a building) rather than on undependable units that can change over time (i.e. number of employees).

Though they are changing, zoning regulations will continue to protect residents’ quality of life, and these updates will not remove protections currently in place. These recommended changes do not change the character of our existing zoning districts or City, or remove safeguards that are currently in place. Rather, they enhance the quality of life for our residents and businesses by permitting additional compatible uses, placing additional restrictions and regulations on certain uses, and continuing to protect single-family residential neighborhoods from undesirable encroachment.

About the Zoning Use Classification Tables

  • The 1997 Development Code codified the use of the 1987 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Manual for land use classifications.
  • It is a tool from the Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for classifying economic activities. It does not account for actual use of land or the impact uses have on surrounding are and was note created for zoning use classification purposes.
  • There have been adaptability challenges with the SIC since 1997. The complex system of classification of our current classification tables requires the use of a manual that the average person is not readily familiar with. It is also extremely difficult to properly classify uses without referencing the manual.
  • The significant change in society since 1987 – specifically the explosion in technology – and the fact that our current classification tables does not adequately reflect the industries seeking to relocate to the City, also signal the need for an update.