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Town elevates commercial, industrial, residential buildings' masonry cladding targets

Source: Texas Masonry Council, Cedar Park

As Central Texas experiences what many predict will continue to be a stormy spring, Cedar Park, Texas, has adopted standards for new construction, which officials hope will better protect its citizens and the tax base, according to the Texas Masonry Council. The Cedar Park City Council has voted to raise minimum masonry requirements for new industrial and commercial buildings and for some new residential units. At its regular meeting on April 12, 2012, the Council voted 5-1 in favor of the new masonry standards.

The masonry standards for new construction are:

  • Commercial – Raised from the present 25, 50, and 75 percent to 100 percent masonry exteriors for all types of commercial buildings.
  • Industrial – Raised from the present 25 percent to 50 percent for all such buildings.
  • Residential – Units that face two roads, such as on corner lots, minimum raised from 50 percent to 75 percent masonry exteriors; other residential units continue to have 50 percent minimum requirement.
  • Multi-Family – Raised from 50 percent to 100 percent masonry.
  • Townhomes and Condominiums – Raised from 50 percent to 75 percent masonry.
  • Institutional – Minimum increased from present 50 percent masonry exterior to 100 percent.

Mayor Bob Lemon cited safety—rather than aesthetics—as the primary reason for higher masonry requirements, noting the greater protection that masonry provides from fires, tornados and windstorms. Council member Mitch Fuller, who cast the only dissenting vote, wanted even stronger residential construction standards—75 percent minimum for all new residential units, not just some.

A University of Michigan study of masonry ordinances in four Illinois towns concluded that such ordinances result in: 1) higher overall property values; 2) growth in the tax base, lessening the tax burden on residents; 3) continued population and housing growth; and, 4) no significant impact on affordability for either renters or buyers of housing.

Rudy Garza, executive vice president of the Texas Masonry Council, said, “Texas has a rich history of building with long-lasting masonry products. Masonry is part of the Texas heritage, and by embracing masonry planning, local officials and civic leaders, such as those in Cedar Park, are helping to build a strong legacy for their communities.”

Cedar Park is one of a growing list of more than 150 Texas cities that have incorporated exterior masonry construction requirements into community planning, according to the Texas Masonry Council.