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The Year in Review: Bryan considers developments, roommate limits

The Year in Review: Bryan considers developments, roommate limits

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Neighborhood issues and plans to finance new development dominated discussion at the Bryan Municipal Building in 2005.

City leaders debated whether to lower the limit of unrelated adults who can share a home from four to two, in a months-long discussion that involved extensive research and community participation - and still has seen no end result.

An ordinance that allows no more than four unrelated adults to share a home was adopted in 2002. Those with complaints about the ordinance say households full of unrelated roommates create trash, noise and parking problems in single-family neighborhoods.

Four neighborhood associations came together when the issue arose in a contest between Mark Conlee and Mike Southerland for a City Council seat. Conlee won, and he suggested creating overlay districts so that residents in certain areas could petition the City Council to lower the roommate limit without affecting those in other neighborhoods who aren't experiencing the same problem.

The City Council tasked the Planning and Zoning Commission with studying the issue and delivering a recommendation. The commission spent four months meeting and gathering input.

The panel recommended in September to boost code enforcement and police response to neighborhood-related calls; implement a rental property registration program; and create a new zoning district that would allow neighborhoods to request a change in the roommate limit.

The Bryan Police Department created a "neighborhood nuisance" team of up to four officers to patrol Bryan streets on weekend nights. The team is composed of off-duty and reserve officers so police are not taken away from their regular shifts to answer neighborhood-related calls, most of which are considered low priority, according to Chief Mike Strope.

The other two parts of the Planning and Zoning Commission's recommendation - rental property registration and a new zoning district - have not been implemented.

Plans are in place to revisit the issue at a Jan. 10 City Council workshop.

Traditions

After an intense debate, city leaders refused to allow hotel rooms to be sold as condominiums at the Traditions residential and golf community on Villa Maria Road.

Four of Bryan's seven councilmen fought a deed change requested by developer Melrose Co. that would have allowed the company to market a hotel-condominium, and offer people the opportunity to buy a room if they want access to it for more than 30 consecutive days.

Those opposed to the deed change were led by Councilman Conlee and also included Jason Bienski, Paul Madison and Joe Marin.

Conlee said he would be willing to approve the deed change if Melrose officials would guarantee what the hotel rooms would look like. Two-bedroom condominium-style rooms would encourage people to live there, but hotel-style rooms would not, Conlee said, asking for a promise that the facility would be marketed as a hotel to ensure the city would make money from hotel/motel occupancy taxes.

Melrose chief financial officer Jim Nicksa said he couldn't make that guarantee because the land will be sold to a hotel developer, and Melrose won't be able to control what the building looks like. Ultimately, Melrose officials said they had no choice but to agree to the city's wishes and not offer the option of purchasing the rooms as condominiums.

The city stood to lose about $350,000 per year in hotel/motel tax revenue if rooms were sold rather than rented, Bryan finance officials estimated.

The Traditions golf course is complete, and several houses have been built. Construction of a club house, tennis court and pool is scheduled to begin in early 2006. A timeline for construction of the hotel has not been released.

The city launched the Traditions project in 2001 and has since issued $17 million in debt to build the project, which is funded by a tax increment finance district, or TIF.

Authorizing a TIF allows the city to use a portion of the property taxes generated in a designated zone to pay off the debt for the project.

Burton Creek TIF

Another TIF was authorized late this year when the city approved plans to create an advisory board to oversee development in a 122-acre zone off Villa Maria Road and William Joel Bryan Parkway.

Burton Creek Development Limited is planning a senior citizen-restricted residential development, in addition to office and retail space. The developers have asked the city, via attorney Chris Peterson, to kick in $5.6 million for public amenities such as a senior citizens center, a walking trail system, utility relocation and construction of a new roadway near the post office on William Joel Bryan Parkway.

The City Council's decision to enter negotiations with Burton Creek Development drew public scrutiny when it was revealed that the city leaders had little information about the development company. Realtor Jenny Black signs documents as the general partner, but some council members weren't aware of her development history or financial background. Those are questions that will be revealed once the TIF board begins its "due diligence," according to city officials.

Mayor Ernie Wentrcek said in a December council meeting that the city had not yet committed to any expenses or projects within the TIF zone. The advisory board, which has not been named, will be tasked with deciding which projects the city wants to participate in and how much it should spend, Wentrcek said.

That issue will be further discussed in January.

Juvenile curfew

A curfew for children age 16 and younger will become effective Monday.

The curfew will be enforced from midnight to 5 a.m. daily.

Police officials proposed the curfew in an effort to reduce gang violence and juvenile crime. It also could protect youths from becoming crime victims, according to Assistant Chief Freddie Komar. About 361 juvenile arrests were made in 2002, compared with 354 in 2003 and 396 last year, according to Bryan police statistics.

The ordinance will be evaluated after it has been in place for a year, city officials have said.

Madisonville and Navasota have similar curfew ordinances in place, and College Station police have said they will present an ordinance to the City Council for discussion in early 2006.

• April Avison's e-mail address is april.avison@theeagle.com.

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