Council approves high density zone change

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By SHELLY WILKISON

Two weeks after residents of a small neighborhood protested a decision by the Planning & Zoning Commission to recommend a high density zone change for an adjacent subdivision, an agreement was reached with the developer and all returned peacefully to the City Council to support the change.

During a public hearing Monday on the proposed zone change for the Mason tract from Agricultural (AG) to Single Family High Density (SF-3), developer Haythem Dawlett told the Council that he will construct a 7-foot-tall precast concrete fence around the new Highland Terrace subdivision. In response to concerns voiced last week by property owners on the north and east side of the 36-acre tract, Dawlett said the fence is the agreed solution. An agreement containing a description of the fence was signed by the subdivision’s bordering property owners along with the developer.

“It’s highly unusual for a developer to meet with the neighbors, but he (Dawlett) was willing to work with us,” said Ben De Bellis, who owns property on Bakers Circle that backs up to the Highland Terrace. “We have an agreement signed by him and the neighbors. We want to acknowledge Mr. Dawlett publicly for working with us.”

With no protests being expressed, the Council voted unanimously to grant the zoning change, which will permit up to 10 single family homes per acre in the subdivision. The Mason tract, which will become Highland Terrace, is located adjacent to the City’s wastewater treatment plant and will have one entrance off US Highway 183.

On April 14, the Commission voted 4-1 to recommend Council approval of the zoning change. Commissioner Patrick Harlow cast the no vote. Several property owners with large acreage residential lots that backed up to the proposed Highland Terrace neighborhood asked the Commission to reject the zone change because the plan lacked transition or a buffer from the high density neighborhood to theirs. They said the City should require transition between the two, and supported the idea of a wall.

The Council held another public hearing Monday and approved a preliminary plat for Highland Meadows subdivision, which is a 231-acre tract located on State Highway 29 just west of Draper Lane. The Planning & Zoning Commission also recommended approval of that plat last week. No one spoke against the plan at either public hearing.

Also Monday, the Council approved the Facade & Sign Matching Grant Program as developed by the Economic Development Corp.

On April 19, the EDC Board of Directors approved the application and the process for obtaining matching funds to pay for downtown commercial building improvements.

If approved, the EDC will provide up to $5,000 in matching funds for improvements such as facade renovation, awning installation, exterior painting, outdoor lighting, landscaping, parking lot improvements and signage.

In other business Monday, the Council approved the appointment of Eric Van Natter to the EDC Board of Directors. Van Natter is owner of Star of Texas Realty Group and is president of the Christian Business Leaders Association. He fills a vacancy created by the resignation of Rick Montelongo.

Boatright announced that longtime EDC Board member Brian Butler had submitted his resignation and the terms of Directors Lance Dean, Frank Spinosa and David Wise are soon up for reappointment. He asked council members to make recommendations of others they would like to be considered to serve.

The Council also heard a report on the City’s second quarter investments, and adopted a purchasing and procurement policy for the EDC in keeping with policy for all city departments.

The Council tabled two items relating to resolutions on wholesale wastewater service and operations for certain municipal utility districts.

Councilmember Troy Whitehead was absent Monday.

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