By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS – The City Council, in a 3-2 vote Tuesday, set the guidelines for future zoning considerations for the area annexed in 2004 and 2009.
Councilmen Bobby Hoxworth, Mike Aycock and John Reider voted to approve amendments to the Land Use Plan that will show commercial development in a strip down Farm-to-Market 2410 from Indian Trail to County Drive. It will indicate a larger commercial area on the north side of FM 2410 in the area of Indian Trail and Warriors Path.
Councilman Rob Robinson made a first motion to delay action on the issue stating that the council should do more research on the effects of commercial development in the area.
He cited Exploring New Heights II, a document put together by residents and city staff, to try convince the other council members to vote in his motion's favor.
Harker Heights should keep its rural beauty, and strip malls shouldn't fill the sides of FM 2410, Robinson said.
Hoxworth then asked David Mitchell, Planning and Development director, if the strip indicated on the Land Use Plan would provide for other commercial developments besides the strip malls.
"It is just a guide they (property owners or developers) can ask for more or less" of the area designated in the Land Use Plan, Mitchell said.
Mayor Ed Mullen suggested that no matter what the Land Use Plan shows, there will be commercial development along FM 2410 in the future, because it will become a major thoroughfare.
"What we are doing here is warning residents that there is going to be future commercial growth because this is a major highway," Mullen said.
Aycock supported Mullen's thinking by saying that the road has already been cited by the Texas Department of Transportation to be widened in the future, he said.
If the road does eventually see the traffic it sees on the north side of Harker Heights, you wouldn't want homes that close to the road, and commercial development would be safer, Aycock said.
One resident, Colyn Crews, suggested that the council extend the guideline for commercial strip to the end of the annexed area, because his property is there.
The Planning and Zoning advised against extending the commercial strip because of a curve in the road that could cause dangerous traffic, Mitchell said.
The City Council agreed to research extending the strip.
Another resident and Harker Heights City Council candidate, Steve Hoskins, said the council should not only look to the long term but consider the short-term effects this may have on property.
"A little closer to now needs to be under consideration, and not just 10 years in the future," Hoskins said, after the county tax appraisal district is already suggesting the land is commercial by taxing it that way.
Among other business, the City Council passed an ordinance that would allow the property owners in the 2004 and 2009 annexed areas to waive one rezoning fee as long as it is within the next year.
This item passed ,3-2, with Reider, Robinson, and Pat Christ voting in favor of the ordinance.
Before voting against the ordinance, Hoxworth commented, "The city hasn't done this in the past. Why should it do it now?"
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7554.