COPPERAS COVE — The city’s planning staff is re-evaluating future land use plans to reflect construction of the U.S. Highway 190 bypass.
“People are already anticipating (the highway) and people who own property there are trying to figure out how to work with that,” said Chris Stewart, with Stewart Planning LLC, the city’s planner. “In some cases, it is cutting through their property.”
Traditionally in Texas, the land adjacent to highways in cities such as Copperas Cove becomes dense with commercial development.
But city staff want to ensure the land develops in a well-planned way that benefits the whole of Copperas Cove — avoiding oversaturating the area around the bypass with commercial zones so current business areas stay viable, Stewart said.
To do that, the city needs to change and adapt its future land use plan to reflect how development should take place, Stewart said. The plan serves as a guide to developers, businesses and residents who want to change their property.
Stewart said he hopes to counsel the Copperas Cove City Council on not making the area only commercial.
“We want to keep things in balance,” he said. “We want to have opportunity for commercial and retail growth because that diversifies the city’s revenue, but if we put all those eggs in that basket, we have to ask ourselves are we still ‘the city built for family living’?
“If we end up with too much commercial and retail land use in the city, then we start to erode the economic areas on the current (U.S. Highway) 190. We don’t want to end up with a blighted 190 corridor because we have replaced it with a new commercial zone around the bypass.”
While the plan is going through its first major revision since 2007, the planning department along with the Planning and Zoning Commission also is revisiting the city’s zoning ordinance.
Zoning ordinance changes will have an effect on what will be developed along the bypass, City Manager Andrea Gardner said.
“If you don’t want it to look like restaurant row, then you have to look at some different types of commercial zoning,” she said.
Cove Economic Development Executive Director Polo Enriquez said because of limited access to the highway, he doubts Copperas Cove’s bypass will be flooded with strips of shopping centers like those seen along Interstate 35.
Development in the area
Earlier this month, the city saw its first zoning request change for property surrounding the development that did not belong to the Cove Economic Development Corporation.
The corporation helped develop more than 120 acres of land — the Five Hills shopping center — on the eastern portion of the bypass and is developing at least another 70 acres as a business and industrial park.
Jay Manning of Manning Homes, who requested the change of property designation, was approved for rezoning nearly 27 acres of land along the highway project. A portion of the land was rezoned for commercial use while 18½ acres was zoned for multifamily housing.
During that December meeting, however, Manning said the larger portion of the property would most likely become single-family housing.
Manning’s property does not have direct access to the future highway, but plans would extend Constitution Drive through the commercial portion and into a residential area where Risen Star would serve as another access point for the future subdivision.
According to the Coryell County Tax Appraisal District, Manning owns several other properties in the area, as do other Copperas Cove developers.
There is probably about 1,000 acres of land to develop along the U.S. 190 bypass project and the State Highway 9 project, said Jimmy Clark of J. Clark Homes.
Clark also owns several acres in south Copperas Cove that could benefit from the highway’s construction, according to the tax appraisal district’s website.
“There is no doubt that (the bypass) would afford the ingress and egress to the area,” Clark said.
As a developer, Clark is already looking at potential for his property and doing some preliminary planning and platting for the area, he said. He hopes to have something for the city to review by the first quarter of 2013.
Despite having developers like Clark and Manning already working on plans to take advantage of the highway, Gardner said she believes the city is far enough ahead of the construction to be prepared for future development.
“We have started already our discussions with the Planning and Zoning Commission and how they want the city to look,” she said.
Stewart said the commission has held several workshops and probably will present its ideas for modifying the future land use plan to the council within the next 30 days.
Clark said developers and the city have worked well together to create items like the future land use plan, but several other factors will determine how the land develops.
“You got to have a road, you got to have water and you got to have sewer for any type of development to come in,” said Clark, noting that the city will have to expand its infrastructure to allow for growth. Then “the market will help decide how much of the property becomes commercial and residential.”
“It takes rooftops and residences to entice these businesses to come to Copperas Cove,” Clark said.