A public hearing on a mixed-use proposal on Friendswood’s Whitcomb property drew a strong showing from a church seeking to build a new campus there.
The proposed “walkable, mixed use community” includes a 70,000-square-foot facility for Clear Creek Community Church and 600 apartments along with space for retail, restaurant and commercial on the 135 acres known as the Whitcomb property, located at 3801 FM 528.
In past meetings and during a public hearing last Monday, residents turned out to oppose the development, particularly the apartment complex. In addition, the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted in March not to recommend the project.
But a crowd of supporters from Clear Creek Community Church also had their say, citing its economic advantage to the city as well as the social benefits of a healthy church community and the moral and charitable projects they undertake.
Keep Friendswood Beautiful board member Natashia McAdoo was among those representing the church, which holds two services weekly for an estimated 2,000 people at Friendswood Junior High.
“I ask today for your help and direction, council and committee members: How can we cooperatively fulfill Friendswood pioneers’ vision of establishing this city as a community dedicated to God? How can we work together to build our church and better our community?”
Many spoke from the economic standpoint, saying that mixed use developments are popping up all over the Houston area for a good reason.
“As we originally submitted this proposal, we were encouraged to not just bring a church property because of its size, but to expand that out to a much grander development the city desired to see happen,” Friendswood resident and church member Chris Alston told the council. “We brought on a development plan and some development planners to help us do that.”
The walkability aspect, he said, makes the proposal unlike others in the area.
Church member Carl Bowman said that after raising children in Friendswood, he and his wife were forced to move out of the city in 1997 when they wanted a travel-friendly lifestyle and began looking for apartments.
“We couldn’t find an apartment we wanted to live in in Friendswood,” he said. “For 14 years we lived in different cities, and six years ago we decided to move back. We wanted to be near the kids and the grandkids, but we ran into the same problem.”
“This is going to be an upscale apartment complex, and I would like to know that when we do get tired of owning a home and keeping one up, that we’ve got a nice place we can stay in Friendswood,” he said.
He added: “It’s kind of ironic we’re asking ya’ll to let us build a church; everybody knows that’s how this city was founded 120 years ago.”
Those who turned out last Monday to speak against the proposal included former Friendswood Mayor David Smith.
“I would ask you: If a different business were asking you to do the same thing, would you?” he asked the council. “Would you do it without knowing the impact of the water and sewer locations, streets ingress and egress, 528 cut-ins? I hope you wouldn’t. Don’t treat this any differently.”
It is clear there are good people in the community who are part of the church, he said.
“This is not about God’s work,” Smith said. “I want us to recognize there is a way to make this happen and it be good for the community. Bring a plan that allows the church to develop without an apartment complex.”
“It’s an important decision. It’s not just about bringing a church in,” Smith added. “It’s about what happens on one of the most pristine and prime commercial tracts.”
City Council meetings are usually held on the first Monday of the month at City Hall, 910 S Friendswood Dr., beginning at 4:30 p.m.