By Sarah Chacko

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS As the city continues to grow commercially, residents are watching green spaces turn into parking lots right before their eyes.

A proposed bingo hall is moving in on the south side of U.S. Highway 190 between Verna Lee and Nola Ruth boulevards, and some neighboring residents and businesses arent sure what will happen to their already busy street.

James Street, administrator of the Family and Childrens Clinic on Nola Ruth, said no official word has been given on what business would be taking the nearly four-acre spot behind the clinic, and he had no particular concerns from a business standpoint.

But as a resident on Verna Lee, Street said he believes most residents dont know what to expect.

Many residents said traffic on Verna Lee is already pretty bad, with drivers exceeding the 30 mph zone.

And with no idea on what the business hours might be, its hard to tell how much the proposed bingo hall will affect the neighborhood.

Crystal Vallejo lives on Gasisco Drive near the proposed business. She said she has watched the parking lot of a bingo hall across the highway fill up on some nights.

It can get pretty crowded, Vallejo said. The traffic here will be a lot worse.

Katherine Robbins, who lives on Verna Lee directly across the street from the site, said she was disappointed to see the trees that once blocked the view of the businesses and traffic cleared away.

Robbins, who has been living on the street for about eight years, said she had hoped the area to have been a neighborhood park for the kids in the area and her three daughters.

If it ends up going up, well probably move, Robbins said. We dont want to watch a bingo hall.

In 1999, Roger Ward North American withdrew its proposal to build a 30,000-square-foot moving and storage facility in the same location because of the opposition it faced from the neighborhood.

City Planner David Mitchell said no definitive plans have been made as to the nature of the business, and notification is sent to surrounding properties only when zoning changes occur.

The Planning and Zoning Commission is meeting today to consider the final plat approval of the property, but it has already been zoned B-4, secondary/highway business district, and thereby is approved to accommodate several types of businesses, including a bingo hall.

City Manager Steve Carpenter said the city wants a balance between residential and commercial areas and similar problems have surfaced over commercial property in general, whether its a bingo hall or a Wal-Mart.

Basically, we have to handle growth, he said.

Contact Sarah Chacko at

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