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College Station City Council approves land use change, denies zoning change on Graham Road property
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College Station City Council approves land use change, denies zoning change on Graham Road property

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The College Station City Council concluded months of discussion over the future use of a 10-acre plot of land on Graham Road, approving a land use change, but denying a rezoning request.

The City Council approved by a 4-3 vote to change the future land use designation of the privately owned property, “generally located at 1660 Graham Road,” from suburban commercial to urban, which will transition to mixed-residential land use when the updated Comprehensive Plan goes into effect Nov. 8.

Councilmembers John Brick, Elizabeth Cunha, John Nichols and Mayor Karl Mooney voted in favor of the land use change. Councilmembers John Crompton, Linda Harvell and Dennis Maloney voted against it and had voted in favor of an earlier failed motion to deny the change.

The group then went on to deny a rezoning request to change the property from a rural designation to a planned development district. All but Cunha voted in favor of denying the zone change.

Nearly a dozen residents of the Dove Crossing neighborhood spoke in person and via Zoom against the planned townhome development that prompted the rezoning request.

Dove Crossing resident Amber Schafnitz-Sherman, who also spoke at the February 2021 meeting on the same issue, said she and her family love the neighborhood. While she is not against townhomes, she is against them turning into “Ag shacks.”

“I just want it to be safe for the kids. I understand that that property is going to be sold, and it’s going to be developed; it’s going to happen. That’s progress; that’s how we work,” she said, saying the majority of the builders’ properties are sold and then turned into rentals. “Now if they were rented to families … I’m good; I’m really good. I just don’t want all those students living next door to us. It sounds awful, but not in my backyard.”

Diane Cahill Bedford, a member of the Dove Crossing HOA board, also had concerns over their children’s safety with the introduction of townhomes on the 10-acre piece of land.

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“I want my children to play in streets where they’re not going to be run down by students who are trying to cut through and get to their townhome development, because let’s face it, these townhomes are going to become rental properties and they’re going to become a nice place for students to kick back and party, and I don’t want that because I lived in a neighborhood like that when I first moved here,” she said, calling her old neighborhood street a “parking lot” for college students.

Other neighbors spoke out against the townhome developers’ willingness to address concerns, such as including a 30-foot tree buffer between the townhome complex and the Dove Crossing neighborhood.

Matthew Stewart, the developer of the townhome project, said the property’s current status as greenspace will always win over development and the idea homeowners have of their dream use will always win over any suggested development.

Councilman John Crompton, who voted against approving the land use change and in favor of denying the rezoning change, said the key for him is the buffer.

Councilman Dennis Maloney, who voted the same as Crompton, said he likes good, smart development, but said it is the council’s job to promise and listen to the neighborhood and respect their decisions.

“I’m sticking with the neighbors,” he said. “We have a covenant with them; we owe it to them, and I’m voting for them.”

Councilwoman Elizabeth Cunha voted in favor of the land use change and against denying the rezoning change, representing the lone dissenting vote in the rezoning request.

“There are some people that will spend their whole life in a rental. They will raise their family and see their children off to college in a rental, and it can be a good life,” Cunha said, agreeing with Councilwoman Linda Harvell’s earlier comments about the importance of neighborhoods having a family environment. “… I am hoping that what we end up with in that corner is a neighborhood located next to a school in walking distance to a store because when you think about neighborhoods where the next generation grows, that would be a good one.”

Schools and churches are not subject to the same zoning restrictions, and Councilman John Nichols said he hoped the nearby International Leadership of Texas would purchase the property to develop.

College Station Mayor Karl Mooney confirmed the developer could come back with another rezoning request in six months.

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