Manvel city council continued debate on the Master Thoroughfare Plan at its recent meeting. The Thoroughfare Plan will have significant implications on the city’s future as it attempts to proactively establish an integrated road network that supports and sustains viable long-term growth. It appears the Plan is substantially endorsed by council though the first reading on its authorization was put off in order to allow the administration to change two parts of the Plan. The location of a part of Cemetery Road where it would compromise a long-established cemetery should future development necessitate the implementation of the Plan will be realigned further to the west. Another issue that was raised by Member Melody Hanson at a previous meeting regarded the provision for the use of drainage easements to establish an off-street trail system with bicycles being the primary expected user. Hanson interpreted the verbiage to mean an owner of property along a watershed, be it a bayou or creek or tributary, would be subject to a public bike trail running through their property whether it was desired or not. She favors the Plan as submitted except for the trails which she considers inappropriate as part of a Thoroughfare Plan which purpose is to plan for vehicular traffic. She considers a more appropriate place for the off-street recreational trail system to be in the Master Parks Plan instead.
The first public hearing on the adoption of the Plan was conducted with not one member of the public voicing an opinion on the matter. The plan was approved and submitted by PD&Z and provides for the establishment of 14 major corridors each providing 120 feet of ROW. That width would allow six 12 foot traffic lanes (3 in each direction), a 16 foot median, and a 16 foot green space on either side to accommodate sidewalks, trails, and such. Nine roadways are classified as arterials which “typically carry the highest amounts of traffic and also have the highest speeds depending on the context of the environment.” Arterials would require 100 feet of ROW, typically providing four 12 foot traffic lanes with the remaining 52 feet used in some configuration of median and side green space for multi-purpose use. Eight roads are considered collector streets which “focus on moving traffic between neighborhoods and different areas within the city.” Collector streets would require an 80 foot ROW with the number of lanes varying from two to four “depending on the current and future demands and the potential development.”
SH 288 and SH 6 are the two major thoroughfares within the community and set the foundation for overall network development as they are the key focal points for future residential and commercial development. Current traffic counts on each of those roadways are typically in excess of 20,000 vehicles each day. A limiting factor the Plan contends with is the lack of contiguous connectivity through the city limits and its ETJ. Croix Road (CR 58) is projected as a major corridor but it ends at the middle of DelBello Road (CR 90), another major corridor, and fails to continue east to Masters and even further east towards Pearland and Friendswood. Bissel Road (CR 190) is shown as an arterial and could be another viable east-west route to relieve SH 6 traffic but it is not contiguous throughout the city limits. The growing number of master-planned communities presents the challenge of adding critical linkages in order to prevent system congestion.
Developers of large scale projects generally consider the Plan as overreaching and oppose the mandating of so many wide road ways as further encumbering project margins. Individual Land owners along the plans contemplated roadways that one day desire to sell their property would likewise be unhappy with the prospect of a loss of property value due to the amount of land essentially being given to the city in order to meet the right-of-way (ROW) mandates. City Manager Kyle Jung more clearly elucidated the point saying the requirement to meet the subdivision ordinance, of which the MTP would be part of, would be necessary any time a property is subdivided. The intention of that part of the Plan, as is the case with most of the Plan, is contemplated for larger scale developments containing many acres of individual lots; the expectation being that developers would fund the majority of the provisions of the Plan. But member Lew Shuffler raised an issue at a previous meeting that apparently was not included in the deliberations by PD&Z when he reminded his fellow members that a Manvel landowner wishing to subdivide their property, if strict adherence to the Plan were followed, would necessarily be required to meet the conditions of the city’s subdivision ordinance. He likened the requirement to a recent approval granted by council to an individual landowner who desired subdividing his few acres so that a portion could be given to a family member for the building of a private residence. The Thoroughfare Plan as contemplated would necessitate that gift or assignment of land meet any applicable provision of the Plan. While members took initial poise at that consequence and further considered the likely impairment to a transfer of property, no mention of addressing that concern was forthcoming.
The city’s subdivision ordinance clarifies the concern for individual property owners: “Subdivider means any person who performs or participates in the performance of any act relating to the subdivision of land… The terms “subdivider” and “developer” are synonymous and are used interchangeably… Subdivision or subdivide means the division of any lot, tract or parcel of land by plat, map, or description into two or more parts, lots or sites for the purpose, whether immediate or future, of sale, rental or lease, or division of ownership. Any dedication and the laying out (or realignment) of new streets, or other public or private access ways, with or without the creation of lots, is a subdivision. An “addition” is a subdivision as defined herein. The term “subdivision” or “subdivide” includes the division of land, whether by plat or by metes and bounds description, and, when appropriate to the context, shall relate to the process of subdividing or to the land subdivided.
City council is expected to again consider the Plan at its next scheduled meeting on Oct. 12. State law mandates two public hearings to allow citizens to express their opinions before the Plan can be wholly adopted. Public input from citizens is always welcomed at council meetings and members encourage input from their constituents.