College Station City Council members voted late Thursday to postpone land use and zoning changes that would have opened the door for new single-family townhomes to be built on a 10-acre property at 1660 Graham Road.
The decision followed a three-hour discussion and comments from around 20 community members. Most of the people who commented on the issue were Dove Crossing neighborhood residents who are opposed to bringing in townhomes due to concerns about traffic, noise, property values and other items. A couple of people who came forward in support of the issue said they liked the idea because it could mean more affordable housing options in the city.
“We want to enjoy our neighborhood in a safe environment,” Dove Crossing resident Linda Lee told the council as she spoke in opposition to the development.
The item will come back to the council at the Oct. 28 meeting. The council supported the postponement on the condition that the applicant and the concerned community members would try to come to an agreement that both parties would find favorable. Council members Linda Harvell, John Crompton and Dennis Maloney voted against the motion to postpone.
In February, the council also denied changing the land use at the same property due to concerns from community members in the surrounding neighborhoods. At the time, a different developer was proposing to build apartment complexes that would have been a higher density usage than what was brought forward Thursday night.
The city staff and the planning and zoning commission had recommended approval of the proposed land use and zoning changes Thursday night. Ahead of the meeting, Alyssa Halle-Schramm, the city's long-range planning administrator, said city staff supported the new proposal since the developer reached out to residents in the surrounding neighborhoods and made adjustments to the plan to try to meet the needs of those community members.
Some of the adjustments included keeping the building to a two-story maximum and making changes to avoid traffic congestion.
Even so, some City Council members said those changes were not sufficient since there were still many community members who expressed opposition in spite of the adjustments.
“The biggest and most important concern here is the covenant that we have with those people that have invested in their homes,” Councilman Dennis Maloney said early on in the discussion, before the council decided to postpone the item. “And they have come to us twice now and said, ‘look, we don't want this, we want to stay with the plan that you promised us.’ Now that plan needs to be modified, no question about it. … But the bottom line is that we have to find a way to engage the neighbors to find the solution and the best use of this property.”
The City Council was heading toward voting down the land use changes all together before they recessed briefly and eventually decided to postpone a decision. Had the request been denied, the applicant would have had to wait six months before potentially bringing the issue back for consideration again.