EDINBURG, Texas – Developers that work regularly in Edinburg are going to be asked to help devise new ordinances for the city.

The plan to create a new unified development code is part of the city council’s desire to not only grow fast, which it has been for many years, but also to grow smart. 

Ron Garza, city manager for Edinburg, explained the concept in an exclusive zoom conversation with the Rio Grande Guardian.

“Something we have been really looking at very carefully is looking at is growing smartly,” Garza said. “Sometimes the growth can outweigh the parameters you put in place, the policies, the strategies. One of my focuses in communicating with our city council is doing this smart.”

Garza said the city council has a new informal slogan now, growing fast, growing smart. 

“That is where the City of Edinburg is right now. We are one of the few cities in the Rio Grande Valley to have a unified development code, which is nothing but a set of ordinances that really define the parameters of development.”

These ordinances could be minimum road widths, amount of parking, drainage and flood mitigation. 

Garza said Edinburg’s current unified development code has been in place for six years.

“It is due for a refresh. The one we have in place right now is our first version, and we learned a lot of things. We learned that every city is not a one size fits all. Not only does the direction of the council come into play, but just the natural assets of that city.”

Garza explained how land and real estate developers will play a role.

“Over the summer we are going to be bringing in our developers, who do a lot of business here, and hear from them. What are your challenges? Why can’t you move faster? What are the restrictions that the city places on you that don’t allow for ample growth?”

Garza said it is important to have a more interactive process. 

“Right now they are faced with, they have to comply our they have to petition for a variance. It is is not really that much of an interactive process. Essentially, they get to help us write our set of parameters. They get to write our playbook. It is very exciting.”

Garza said he is confident the city will get a lot of engagement from its developers. 

“After that is in place, which is about a six to nine month process, after the city council formally adopts this revision, it really does shape the next five to ten years of what the city looks like.”

Garza acknowledged that “very few people get into the weeds” of unified development codes for parks, sidewalks roads, multi-family development, etc. But, he said, these group of ordinances “really do shape a city.” 

Garza explained: “Unified Development Code it is not appealing… but it is really the foundation for all the other exciting things that come about.”

Garza said interactive workshops could be taking place by May of this year with new unified enforcement codes being submitted to the city council within six to nine months.

“We are going to sit down and create a scope and a timeline with the contractor, and then we start this engagement process, not only with the public but really in depth with our developers,” Garza said.

“We will take it piece by piece. There are things we don’t always think about like parking for oversize trucks and trailers. That is a concern to people but it is has a business dynamic.”

Here is the Zoom conversation:

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