Last week’s Killeen City Council vote to approve a plan for a housing subdivision in the city’s university/cemetery overlay district was a significant development.
Approval of a conditional-use permit to allow single-family housing on 35 acres of land not only was a departure from Killeen’s comprehensive land-use plan, but it set the tone for future development along the southern approach to the city.
By authorizing a conditional-use permit, the city gains significant oversight as to the specifications of the development. Also, to this point, the project’s developer, Bruce Whitis, worked with the city to address concerns council members raised about lot size and construction materials.
Still, the council’s vote was not without controversy. In voting against the development, Councilman Terry Clark noted the council was not involved in any of the detailed discussion regarding the project.
In addition, dissenting Councilman Steve Harris pointed out the city was still awaiting results of a transportation and impact fee study. He viewed Tuesday’s vote on the project as premature.
In the end, the project was approved by a 4-3 vote — a familiar split by the current council on economic development issues.
It’s legitimate to ask why the city is spending taxpayer money on studies if they’re not being used to make decisions regarding future growth.
It’s also valid to ask whether the university/cemetery district is still a viable concept. The district was established in 2005 to set the tone for commercial and residential development in the area of the state veterans cemetery and the Texas A&M-Central Texas Campus. But too many times, the council has chosen to allow exceptions to the plan.
Moving forward, the council must decide whether to adhere to the city’s comprehensive plan, revise it or scrap it.
Making the right choices in the development of Killeen’s southern gateway is crucial — in terms of image and intent.
We only have one chance to get it right.