By Kim Steele
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS - Neighbors of a proposed planned development made it clear Monday they didn't want rental townhouses nearby - even if they were upscale.
"I have no problem with people making money, but these companies are coming into a residential area and bringing a hotel," said Larry Prather, a resident of Longmeadow Road.
Sylvia Schnapp, who lives on nearby Bobcat Circle, agreed.
"That's the word we object to - 'rentals,'" said Schnapp. "If you were bringing in small homes you wanted to sell, that would be different."
The criticism came during a town hall meeting hosted by BlueWater Assets of Killeen and EV Studio Texas of Copperas Cove, the project's developer and architect. Company officials presented their plans and tried to address concerns about traffic, noise, lighting and property values.
The city sent out notices about the planned development and has received numerous concerned calls in response. About 50 neighbors showed up at the town hall meeting and peppered developer Chris Doose and architect Gene Dale with questions.
The Enclave will offer 112 rental luxury townhouses on a seven-acre site on the north side of Verna Lee Drive, just east of Farm-to-Market 2410. The land currently is under contract, and will be purchased if the plans are approved by the city's planning and zoning commission and city council.
The main concerns have been increased traffic along Verna Lee Drive, noise generated by those living at the new development, outdoor lighting and possible damage to property values from the rental development.
"I can't think of anything that's been brought to our attention that we haven't proactively addressed," said Dale.
"All the ordinances we've added have been more restrictive than the city's ordinances. We want our project to be everything we've said it would be."
But the audience of about 50 neighbors couldn't get away from the rental aspect of the project, asking how Doose would make sure four adults weren't stuffed in a one-bedroom townhouse sharing the rent. Other issues included the upscale rent amounts and small square footage.
"What this area needs are townhouses to buy, not rent," said Veronica Bledsoe, a resident of Badger Trail. "I have two grown sons, and they would love to buy something like this.
They don't like to do yard work. Why aren't you selling these instead?" Doose said he was offering high-end rentals in Harker Heights because there are none in the city. He promised he would live in the development and ensure the rentals are appropriately occupied and property values stay high.
Larry Robison, chairman of the planning and zoning commission, stood on the sidelines and listened as the audience voiced its fears. Robison commended the companies for providing an outlet to discuss the development and concerns about it.
"A lot of people have contacted me about this, and I wanted to hear everything myself," he said. "It's good to listen to the people. The city will proceed cautiously. I've lived here 46 years, and the long haul is what's important to me. It has to be nice."
Contact Kim Steele at email@example.com or (254) 501-7567.