By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
On Tuesday, the Killeen City Council once again addressed the controversial rezoning proposed for an 87-acre development on the south side of Killeen.
And once again, the sides remained divided.
But after lengthy discussions on the potential of homeowners' associations and the emphasis of a market-driven housing development, after staff described details of zoning options between R-1 and R-1A, and after the future of the area's street, water and sewer infrastructure was addressed, the councilmen began to push for a decision.
For more than a month, since the project was first voted down by the planning and zoning commission Aug. 12, the council members have spoken only to concepts in the public meetings.
But it was clear Tuesday that they were ready to move forward.
At the core of the issue is the debate over lower-priced homes and higher-density housing, which benefits soldiers and their families versus lower-density developments and higher-priced homes, which residents in the area want to attract home owners instead of renters.
At Tuesday's meeting, developer Bruce Whitis offered a compromise on the 87-acre project – to put the R-1A "garden homes" on R-1-sized 6,000-square-foot lots while keeping the R-1A zoning, which would maintain the deed restrictions the city can impose, since it would be a Planned Unit Development.
Councilman Otis Evans said that it's time for the council to act on this issue – it's floated around for far too long.
"We have chastised developer after developer, and I don't know whether (developer Bruce Whitis) is testing our fortitude, but it's time the council should step up to the plate or wimp out," Evans said. "Let's just do it. If we're going to wimp out, fine, let's do it. But we need to move on ? Make a decision, Council."
Councilman Juan Rivera spoke with similar fortitude, speaking of the wish a colonel recently left with him.
"There were a lot of promises made to high-ranking (Army) officials, saying, 'We will take care of the soldiers. We will do what is best,'" Rivera said. "It's time to take a stand, or wipe yourself out."
But Councilman Billy Workman said the council has another duty that must come first; the city's top priority shouldn't be entirely focused on soldiers.
"I think our first obligation is not to the soldiers on Fort Hood, our first obligation is to the voters and taxpayers of the city of Killeen," Workman said. "Yes, we are obligated to support our soldiers and rightly so, but our first obligation is to the citizens of this community. That's the way I feel."
Contact Justin Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7568