As the Texas Department of Transportation continues to widen portions of State Highway 195 from Killeen to Georgetown, commercial development is likely to follow.
“As that traffic increases out there, so will business,” Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin said.
The city already has regulatory control through zoning ordinances as far south as Chaparral Road because the properties are located within the city limits. A narrow stretch of land along the highway, with some other larger parcels of land approaching Triple 7 Trail, also are within city limits.
With some residential developments already out that way, more are likely to come as the city continues to grow, said Tony McIlwain, a Killeen city planner.
More rooftops also increase the chances of vacant land developing into commercial use.
Large portions of the undeveloped properties in the city limits along 195 are in the university or cemetery zoning districts, McIlwain said.
“We are trying to put in complementary land uses that maintain the dignity by the cemetery and the university,” McIlwain said, referring to Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery and Texas A&M University-Central Texas.
Those districts allow for mixed-use development and will help regulate the growth in the area, McIlwain said.
Better regulations on what can be developed and how things can be constructed could improve the city’s image and produce better developments, Corbin said. It’s important to regulate what is coming along the highway, because it is a gateway to the city.
“The image of our city is established at first sight,” he said. “If drivers are coming up 195 to our city, what they see is going to have a lot to do with what they think of our town.
Corbin said the city needs to “prevent substandard development from occurring” in that area, too.
A Killeen City Council subcommittee was created to review the facade regulations of buildings that could be applied to the area, but Corbin said members stopped meeting because they thought regulations weren’t needed.
Corbin said he wasn’t sure if that was a step in the right direction.
“At some point, I think we need to get ahead of it ... instead of waiting for the development,” he said. “It is easier to keep a problem from happening than fixing the problem after it happens.”
The city is updating its thoroughfare master plan, which includes the 195 corridor, McIlwain said.
Corbin said he hopes 195 will look a lot like U.S. Highway 190 one day.
“We want it all,” McIlwain said. “We want to see an anchor retail presence, a hub to where we can have entities that supply jobs.”