• December 26, 2014

Heights residents, officials discuss how overlay could affect them, change city

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Posted: Thursday, August 1, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 11:00 am, Wed Sep 3, 2014.

HARKER HEIGHTS — Residents who packed the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting at City Hall on Wednesday night expressed both concern and support for redevelopment on Farm-to-Market 2410 between U.S. Highway 190 and the city’s eastern border.

How would a redesigned low-speed boulevard affect traffic? How would development along FM 2410 impact the environment? How can homes and businesses coexist?

Residents raised these questions for city staff to consider before they adopt any development overlay district, which could set new city standards for traffic, business landscaping, appearance and placement, as well as new residential and commercial buffering guidelines, among other development protocols.

Planning and Development Director Fred Morris took notes throughout the forum, and addressed residents’ concerns.

Edward Watkins, who lives near FM 2410, said a lower speed and an elimination of the center turn lane could reduce the road’s quick efficiency, push consumers elsewhere, and drive businesses away from the 2.4-mile corridor. He said he was open to redevelopment, but asked for a clearly defined vision.

Changing FM 2410 from a higher-speed highway to a lower-speed boulevard might replace the current two-way middle turn lane with a gapped median, Morris said.

Granite Trail resident Michael Nitti highlighted the spread of impervious surface with development, and said the city should account for the environment when planning.

“Drainage is a big issue at Comanche Gap,” said Nitti, whose backyard has a stream running through it. “In a wet, normal year, it can get pretty bad. … I’m concerned that … my neighbors might get flooded out.”

Bill Shine, who owns 60 acres on FM 2410, said he wanted a nice-looking city, but that any new zoning law shouldn’t discourage possible investors.

Current city ordinance requires a six- or eight-foot fence between businesses and homes, City Manager Steve Carpenter said. Laborers are building Sam’s Club on the south side of its lot, closer to a neighborhood than the highway. An overlay could’ve pushed the structure north.

“You could still build Sam’s, but you’d take more into consideration in terms of the residential areas that are behind it,” he said. “That is a big question that needs to be asked.”

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