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Background

Various Little Elm community surveys and brainstorming exercises, largely through the Comprehensive Planning process, have consistently indicated the citizens of Little Elm believe that one of the biggest weaknesses of the town is a lack of identity and a lack of a focal point or heart of the town. Little Elm prides itself on having a small town character,a unique lakeside atmosphere, and an aggressive vision for the future. It is hoped and expected that the Town Center project will bring Little Elm its missing urban core.

In 2006, community leaders and property owners began discussing the opportunity to create a town center for Little Elm where residents could meet, dine, shop, and enjoy entertainment in a pedestrian oriented, mixed use townscape of walkable streets, human scaled architecture, eye catching detail, public spaces, and urban amenities.

After a Council discussion of "What we have as a Town" and "What is missing on Main Street", Council decided to examine the zoning of the Main Street area and explore the feasibility of creating a core area of the Town with architectural style and unique streetscapes.

With joint funding from EDC, the council approved a budget amendment to hire a consultant (Townscape, Inc) to create a concept plan for a mixed use development centered at the intersection of Main Street and Eldorado Parkway referred to as Town Center.

In 2007, the Town Center Advisory Committee (TCAC) was formed, comprised of property owners, civic leaders, interested citizens, and other stakeholders. After numerous public hearings and meetings, the TCAC presented the Town Center Concept Plan to the Planning & Zoning Commission who unanimously recommended it for approval by Town Council.

Planning & Zoning
In February, 2008, Town Council adopted the Town Center Concept Plan with the expectation that it be mixed use, pedestrian oriented, have on-street parking,have distinctive architecture, provide community activities,and be a vibrant, safe place that is more than the sum of its parts.

In June, 2008, council approved the Town Center Interim (TC-I) zoning district, created with the intent to be a temporary safeguard to ensure that any new development within the proposed Town Center boundary conformed to the Concept Plan until a permanent form based code could be adopted.

In October, 2008, Council hired Townscape to create a form based code for Town Center. Form based codes are a method of regulating development to achieve a specific urban form. They can be considered a departure from conventional use-based zoning in that they do not focus as much on uses and typical suburban development standards. Form based codes create a predictable public realm primarily by controlling physical form.

In December, 2009, council adopted the Town Center Form Based Code, but elected to not apply the zoning to the property until after a master developer was hired. In May, 2011, council rezoned Town Center to remove the interim zoning district and officially apply the form based codes (106-70 of the Code of Ordinances).