By Anthony Scott
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen council approved a city-wide comprehensive plan for the next 20 years of economic and community development about five months ago. Already it's being asked to grant a variance to that plan.
The item was set to come before the council at its meeting Tuesday night at a scheduled public hearing. However, some council members and residents are concerned it could set precedent for others to request changes to the plan.
"I think what we're doing; we're amending the university overlay plan and I think it opens the door for other people to have amendments to it and it just goes out the window then," Councilman Ken Wells said. "Once you start deviating from the plan, the plan goes away eventually."
The proposed variance would allow for a builder to go against the grain of the University Overlay District, which as is, leaves little room for building residential units. By acquiring a conditional use permit, the builder could side-step the rules, erecting duplexes and town homes on the property.
Councilwoman JoAnn Purser said that changing the plans for the University Overlay District may not only set precedent for others to get the same treatment, but it could open the gates to grant CUP's to the historic and downtown districts.
Executive Director of Planning Ray Shanaa spoke before council at its workshop before the meeting and said that allowing a CUP for the development would not set a precedent for others unless it's across from Texas A&M University-Central Texas.
"Every case is judged on its own merits," Shanaa said. "The University Overlay District allows for CUP's."
About a dozen residents who live near the proposed project showed up intending to speak against it Tuesday night at a public hearing scheduled at City Hall.
Apart from concerns that the development wouldn't target students due to the fact that the university campus wasn't completed yet, residents said they still didn't have all the answers to a number of mounting questions.
"If you go to any real estate agency that has rentals, they have an abundance of rentals," said Terry Brafford, who lives near the proposed project. "Why are we building more housing when we already have housing? Why are we circumventing the University Overlay District to build houses that we don't need?"
Brafford and others there were not heard at the meeting though, as council members rescheduled the hearing by unanimously tabling it to its next regular meeting in two weeks.
"The college might have some concerns; that's the reason we tabled it," Wells said. "However, they had some time to do that. They evidently waited until last minute, but I have to respect them. The (University) Overlay District was designed to protect them and make it a college friendly area."
Multiple council members also raised the point that it's likely the duplexes being proposed for the city's University Overlay District wouldn't have students in them for an undeterminable amount of time. The TAMU-CT campus is under construction and its first building won't likely be completed until 2012.
During the workshop, Shanaa said the city is aware that the duplexes wouldn't immediately be filled by students.
The next step for the council will be to further discuss the CUP item at its upcoming workshop Tuesday at the Utility Collections Building. The meeting is open to the public.
"We have to make adjustments; every plan is not perfect," Wells said. "Time to time you have to deviate from plans, but I'm not sure it's time to deviate from this one."
Contact Anthony Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcity.