P&Z: City growing more developer friendly

In News by Reporter News

Advising city council on matters such as land use, the Friendswood Planning and Zoning Commission will take up future development matters again this Thursday.

P&Z, as it is known, is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 910 S. Friendswood Dr.

Among items to be discussed is a mixed use proposal at 3801 FM 528, a site known as the Whitcomb property. Nearby residents have appeared at prior meetings to ask the appointed committee to recommend against the zone change needed to develop the Friendswood Town Center, which in addition to a church, would include 600 apartments and commercial space.

Within the past year, P&Z also has tried to be proactive in predicting development such as a growing demand for senior housing and care, P&Z vice Chair David O’Farrell said in a March 2 report to Council.

The commission last year reviewed personal care facilities.

“We are going to start seeing more group homes and senior assisted living,” he said. “We are trying to get ahead of that curve and put policies in place and make good decisions as those plats are put forward.”

O’Farrell said Friendswood’s reputation among developers has risen in recent years.

“We get feedback constantly from developers who work in League City, Clear Lake, Pearland and Alvin, and they tell the commission as they are going through the process what a positive experience it’s been, and the staff in Friendswood has been welcoming and helped them work through a particular project,” he said.

This, he added, is a change.

“Ten years ago, that wasn’t true,” he said. “It’s a positive change, and that’s not us saying it about ourselves; it’s the developers.”

In an effort to be more business friendly, the city last year also relaxed its requirements for the city’s Downtown District, which P&Z recommended.

“We had some common sense changes we needed to make,” O’Farrell said. “I think it really makes a difference for local businesses, and especially the smaller businesses.”

“I think the end result is that Friendswood is a very welcoming place for business – that’s something that’s not always been true, but certainly is now.”

P&Z meetings are open to the public. The commission usually meets on the first and third Thursdays of each month at City Hall.

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