BC Council members vote against zoning changes
After numerous comments from concerned citizens, council members with the Bridge City city council voted Tuesday evening against the proposed zone changes.
During an Aug. 27 Planning and Zoning meeting, commissioners voted to recommend to the council a request from Roundbunch Enterprises, David Olson, for a zone change from a R-1, single family residential and R-2, low density residential district, to a C-3 third commercial district located on the property located on the corner of Ferry Drive and Meadowlawn. A large portion of the property is currently zoned commercial, C-3, and the request was to change the remaining to a C-3 to allow for a commercial venture.
Before the vote, Mayor Kirk Roccaforte informed the citizens in the room, the council was under a lot of pressure but, “this council always thinks things out.”
“They have all the citizens of Bridge City on their minds,” he said.
Roccaforte added the city has limited C-3 property.
“Anytime we have a zone change, we are up against the same thing,” he said. “No matter where it is.”
Council members have to look at the options and what is best for the city, he added.
“The council is well under pressure and it should not reflect on how they vote on this issue,” he said.
In the end, it was two votes for the proposal and four against the zone change.
Council member, Robert Simonton, addressed the crowd before they left council chambers.
“When you come down to it, it weighs heavy on our hearts,” Simonton said. “But, when you start making phone calls and making threats—that’s gone too far.”
Dr. David Olson was the first to speak on the zone changes prior to the vote.
He told the council and citizens he had received a letter of intent and last summer was approached by a Houston real estate broker firm. They wanted to put a “big box” store at the location. It would be a 100,000 square foot building and a $28 million project. He had also requested a 200 foot “buffer” adjacent to the Hunter’s Run subdivision. He said he intended to build a road on the buffer property.
Olson’s comments were followed with remarks from the citizens at the meeting.
John Hernandez was the first to speak.
“Me and my wife are 100 percent against this,” he said. “It will be basically in our backyard.”
He added, he would like to see the property used to build another residential area.
Other residents voiced their opinions as well with comments against the changes because of loss of property values, drainage issues, increased traffic and health hazards such as garbage and rodents.
Janice Leonard told listeners she had lived there all her life. The new business would be seen as she looked out her “picture window.”
“Citizens do have to stand up for what is right,” she said. “That street is not made for heavy traffic.”
Keith Doucet who also lives nearby stated he was concerned about whoever owns the property once the zone changes are made, then the owner can do what they want there.
‘I don’t think the benefit will outweigh the risks,” he said. “I don’t think we should sell ourselves to the highest bidder.”
Rita Hollier also spoke to the council before their decision.
‘We invested in our homes and it was the biggest investment of our life. We not only did it once, but twice when we decided to stay after Hurricane Ike,” she said.
When it was Scott Danks turn to speak, he handed Roccaforte signed petitions against the proposed zoning changes. He spoke on the same issues as the others, except he asked Olson why there hadn’t been a Hunter’s Run phase two and three. Olson replied, it was because of ordinances from the city prohibiting him from building another subdivision.
When asked what he will do next, Olson said he will resubmit the request for zone changes and change it up a bit and possibly request a R-2 zone change. As for the commercial venture, “As of today, we’ve lost that.”
In other city business, the council passed a resolution concerning high stakes standardized testing of Texas public school testing.
According to Mike King, BCISD superintendent, 722 school districts representing 84 percent of the student population in Texas has already adopted the resolution.
“We are not against accountability. The problem is the test is what drives the education,” he said. “The idea is what is best for the kids.”