Neighbors question Hughes Ranch plans

In News by Reporter News

After hearing from concerned residents at Monday’s meeting, Pearland City Council likely will host a public meeting and open house regarding reconstruction plans for Hughes Ranch Road.

The council on Monday authorized a $215,000 contract for engineering services with Brown and Gay Engineers to make adjustments to design plans between Smith Ranch Road and Cullen Parkway. Those updates will create narrower lanes and wider sidewalks than the originally 5-foot width. The corridor was reviewed during a “Safe Routes to School” study conducted by the city in 2013, which recommended eight 8-foot sidewalks.

Reconstruction designs must be coordinated with the 288 Toll Lane design, since Hughes Ranch is set to provide access to the “T-Ramp” connector to the 288 Toll Lanes.

Although it has been in the works since 2005, funding for the project has not yet been secured, though the city last month submitted the project to Houston Galveston Area Council for TIP funding.

Robert Penry, who lives on Crystal Lake Circle just off Hughes Ranch, voiced concerns that the corridor is being pushed as a commuter through-way for access to U.S. 288.

“It seems like it’s going to destroy the residential character of this community,” he said.

Penry said he has attended meetings on the topic since 2005. Improvements already made have created safety concerns, he said, including medians that don’t allow turns and restrict access to nearby neighborhoods.

Other concerns are increased traffic, noise and added lighting “that will illuminate our homes as well as the road,” one resident said.

Resident Robert Philbrook also spoke before council, adding more comments regarding the impact of traffic and air quality of added toll ramps for U.S. 288.

“Basically what we have here is a flawed project that was predicated on information from back in 2006 and 2007,” Robert Philbrook told the council. “It was compromised totally by this recent request by TxDOT to deal with the issue of T-ramps and that make the traffic and air quality information suspect.”

“Could we see an actual drawing of the whole plan?” asked resident Betty Philbrook, “where the streetlights will be, where the stoplights will be, where the breaks in the median will be so we can all understand it?”

Staff said an open house will be held for the public on the project, probably in the Spring.

“We’ve missed the mark as far as communicating with neighborhoods,” Councilman Tony Carbone said. “I’d like to take this opportunity to get a open house or Town Hall meeting so we can clearly communicate what’s going on, and also let’s try to get the other officials at the meeting – instead of pointing fingers, let’s get the county commissioner and TxDot and whoever we can to the table, so when citizens show up, we don’t just push the buck and we get questions answered.”

Also on Monday, Council approved the first reading of an ordinance amending the city’s Unified Development Code to add micro-breweries/Micro-Distilleries/micro-wineries and coffee roasting.

The change is due to an increase in demand for these types of uses, staff said. The city reportedly has been approached by a number of businesses interested in locating smaller microbreweries/wineries in the city that are “less intense” and often located in commercial and retail areas.

An example is the recently approved Planned Development for a 6000-square-foot BAKS microbrewery on Broadway Street that includes a beer tasting room. It is located in a commercial zone.

“There is not currently a clear definition for these microbreweries and distilleries, also coffee roasting, that you see popping up all over,” Pearson said. “This provides a language that recognizes these.”

Planning and Zoning on Jan. 5 approved the measure.

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