A request from a local developer to rezone more than 35 acres near Splawn Ranch Drive and South Fort Hood Street has sparked a debate between Killeen City Council members.
W.B.W. Land Investment submitted a request to the council to rezone 35 acres from cemetery district and university district to a cemetery district with a conditional-use permit and a university district with a conditional-use permit for residential development.
Shelley Shelton, senior city planner, said conditional-use permits can be granted in any zoning district. However, they are required for residential developments in the cemetery and university districts.
According to the memorandum presented to the council, the average lot size for homes in the subdivision are required to be 8,600 square feet with 70 feet of frontage, 25-foot front yard setbacks, 20-foot rear yard setbacks with a maximum height of two stories.
The conditional-use permit also has design standards including 90 percent stone, stucco or brick on all levels of the home and all four sides and landscaping requirements.
Ray Shanaa, Killeen’s planning director, said the university and cemetery districts were created to promote the needs of the university and ensure development in the cemetery district is “solemn and respectful.”
Councilman Steve Harris questioned if the timing is right or if the city should wait to see how Texas A&M University-Central Texas will grow.
“We think it’s (more) advantageous to provide quality housing close to the university, than have (professors) go to Harker Heights or somewhere else,” Shanaa said. “Now is as good as any time because this is not going to be strictly for the university. This could be for anyone who wants to live there.”
Harris and Councilman Jonathan Okray questioned whether A&M-Central Texas had input and whether the development would hinder the city’s relationship with the university if it’s not favored.
Shanaa said the city’s intent is to reach out to the university to show officials the plans and get their input.
“We certainly don’t want to do anything that could endanger our relationship with the university,” he said. “At the same time, the university does not tell us what to do. We work together in harmony.”
Councilman Terry Clark said he agrees with putting homes in the area and holding them to the SR-1 standard; however, he has concerns about traffic.
“I would like this to go back to planning and zoning with some sort of instructions to start thinking about what north and south traffic might look like,” he said.
Shanaa said the subdivision will have access to the northwest and there will be another road connected to the subdivision other than through Splawn Ranch.
Councilman Juan Rivera said the council is being too critical of proposed developments.
“Sometimes, the council needs to make sure that we understand that our staff is doing a great job,” he said. “We’ve been asking for this for a long time, and now that we got it, we don’t want it? Where do we stand or are we just going to criticize everything that comes here for development?”
The council will vote on whether to approve the development at its regular meeting slated for 5 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers, 101 N. College St.