By Hailey Persinger

Killeen Daily Herald

As the vote on whether to approve the proposed Yowell Ranch development looms, City Council members continue to juggle suggestions and questions about the developer's plan for the 215-acre property.

The council is slated to vote Tuesday on a zoning change that would change the property in south Killeen from an R-1 zone to a planned use development. Developer Bruce Whitis's proposal for the land includes 1,325-square-foot homes that would sit on an average of 6,000-square-feet lots. Over the past weeks, council members have requested changes in the aesthetics and amenities of Whitis' plan, a process that Councilman Juan Rivera said is becoming a problem.

He said Tuesday that sending Whitis' plan to the land use committee for negotiations would allow council members to vote on a solid plan instead of continually asking Whitis for alterations.

"We can't just sit there," he said. "Every time they come in, we send them back again. We're going to be in the same boat next week as we were last week."

But Tony McIlwain, Killeen's city planner, said sending the plan to a different committee for negotiations isn't an option according to Killeen's guidelines for approval of zoning changes. Though the committee is considering a discussion regarding conservation in the development, a discussion about specific features and negotiations cannot occur.

"I think it's fine to task a committee to look at a certain concept," he said, "but development specific is not going to be possible with the way that our zoning code is written right now."

This leaves the city with three options: it can ask Whitis for more changes to the development, approve the plan or disapprove the plan. Since the property is currently zoned as R-1, which requires lots to be at least 6,000-square feet, council's disapproval of the PUD would mean Whitis could still built the development according to R-1 standards.

McIlwain said that would prevent council members from being able to mandate changes to the proposal.

"I would prefer to see a product on the ground that would allow the council some control as far as amenities and aesthetics," he said. "That doesn't mean they'll approve it but if they want to have that influence on the development it's in their best interest."

If changes or clarifications are requested again at Tuesday's meeting, Assistant City Manager Glenn Morrisson said it could be a while until the plan is up for a vote again. The council will not meet Sept. 22 and will be at a conference the following week.

"It sounds like from the discussion at workshops that there would be some other considerations that would be proposed for the developer," he said. "It is definitely council's decision on the direction they'd like to head."

Contact Hailey Persinger at (254) 501-7568 or

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