After the Killeen City Council passed controversial new zoning requirements Tuesday that will require more space between houses in suburban Killeen, talk has already begun of a third zoning classification that will push houses even farther apart.
Local land developers, such as Steven Shepherd and Gary Purser Jr., are not happy about the new restrictions because, they say, they will be building houses nobody wants to buy.
New zoning districts — the city’s way of regulating growth — have been in the works ever since the Comprehensive Plan, a document intended to ensure quality growth in Killeen, was adopted by the City Council in 2010.
On Tuesday, when the council approved Suburban Residential or SR-1 zoning, which requires minimums of 70-foot lot width and 10-foot side yards, Councilman Terry Clark said it fell short of the suburban character he thought was intended in the Comprehensive Plan. Houses will have to be a minimum of 20 feet apart under SR-1 zoning.
“I do not believe that we reached ‘suburban residential’ with what we passed at last night’s meeting,” Clark said in an interview Wednesday.
“What we passed last night does not match our Comprehensive Plan designation of what is suburban residential.”
Clark said he envisioned a zoning district that would require lots to be 95 feet wide in the front, “so that we can go to side-entry garages that give it that suburban neighborhood feel.”
Local builder Don Farek said a minimum of 25 feet on the side of a house would be required to build a side-entry garage, much more than the 10-foot minimum side yard required by SR-1.
Mayor Dan Corbin, who does not vote on the council, said that he thought the comments from developers and representatives of the real estate industry would be very helpful to the city as it moves forward with its growth.
Five separate developers or representatives of the local housing industry addressed the council during the public hearing portion of Tuesday’s meeting.
A common complaint was that not much of the land on the future land-use map — a component of the Comprehensive Plan — is left to be developed under general residential or R-1 zoning, the classification that allows the denser variety of housing developments popular in south Killeen.
“The market determines everything that can be sold,” Corbin said. “We have to temper our desires with a dose of realism.”
Corbin said as the city moves forward into implementing the Comprehensive Plan, it may have to change the suburban zones to less restrictive R-1 zoning requirements.
“Comprehensive plan is not a static document,” Corbin said. “It can be changed and the plan has a procedure for changing it.”
Plans to revise the entire Comprehensive Plan, as required every two years by the plan, have been proposed by the mayor; however, the city has not released any specific plans.