Residents oppose more apartments

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Residents appeared Monday to let city council know where they stood on apartments.

Changes to the Pearland Town Center’s development plan were among a number of upcoming issues addressed in a series of joint public hearings Monday.

First approved in 2005, the developers of the Town Center want to delete the original townhome component and replace it with multifamily units. In addition, they want to double the number of apartments allowed, from 300 to 600. Also discussed was establishing open-detention space for a portion of the development that wasn’t previously been addressed.

City staff recommends against approval of the changes, citing the original cap of 300 apartment units on all tracts, stating also that this number of units requested will exceed density limits.

Phone calls and emails from residents largely oppose the development, planning department director Lata Krishnarao said.

“The comprehensive plan doesn’t say you can’t have apartments,” she said, “but it says it needs to be in a mixed use setting, which is not what this development is proposing.”

The apartments would be a “four-story, urban design” similar to those at Houston’s City Centre, owner and developer Peyton Martin told the council and P&Z Board Monday.

“We think we’ve got a strong product, lots of benefits,” he said. “There’s not one like it in Pearland.”
Nearby businesses and employers such as schools and hospitals warrant high-end, lock-and-leave housing for workers, said John Cutrer, chief investment officer for Houston-based CityStreet Residential.

“It would be nice to keep those sales tax dollars here locally and keep those cars off the freeway,” he said.

Restaurants thrive, he said, when there is a built-in customer base living next door.

Three residents spoke in opposition and Councilman Trent Perez said several residents have contacted him about the matter.

“Regardless of my opinion of the development, I’m here to represent them,” he said. “Certainly there’s arguments for it, certainly there are arguments against it.”

Most of the rest of the council agreed.

Councilman Keith Ordeneaux said he would like to work with the developer and perhaps compromise.

“People say we need more restaurants. We need more retail,” he said. “Any time we talk to those people in restaurant-retail, they tell us, ‘We need more numbers.’ There’s pluses and minuses. I used to be able to get to the Galleria in 15 minutes. But now I don’t have to get to the Galleria. There’s positives and negatives in everything,” he said.

DEVELOPMENT CODE CHANGES
Another public hearing addressed changes to the city’s unified development code. Among them: If an upcoming election lifts a ban on alcohol sales currently prohibited within the city, liquor and package stores might be opened through a conditional use permit in some zones.

If the city doesn’t modify its rules to allow for this, such stores would be permitted by right in many zoning districts.

Other changes would address lighting.

“Numerous complaints have been received from residents of neighborhoods that abut commercial uses,” city documents state. Proposed changes to commercial lighting restrictions are modeled after other cities.

OTHER BUSINESS
A separate public hearing Monday addressed a request of the Stonebridge Planned Development, located along Pearland Parkway north of Barry Rose Road, to allow pawn shops, auto-related businesses and gold exchanges only with a conditional use permit.

A previous change to the city’s codes restricting such types of businesses does not currently apply to this planned development, approved in 2004.

The change is recommended for approval by city staff.

A similar request and public hearing was made for Oakbrook Estates, east of Pearland Parkway north of Dixie Farm Road, and for Highland Glen, located on the east and west sides of Pearland Parkway south of McHard Road.

In a workshop Monday, council discussed a request of David Ferrette and Anthony and Kimberly Giuliani, who are proposing a senior living facility with both assisted living, independent living and memory care at 3205 Dixie Farm Road.

In other public hearings:
– Russ Wilkins and Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations are seeking a conditional use permit to operate a sales, service and rental of forklifts and other material handling equipment at 3401 S. Main St.
– Ali Khan and Kevin Ngo are seeking a conditional use permit for a hotel/motel in the general business district at 8541 Broadway Street, west of Cullen Boulevard.
– Kevin Duc Nguyen is requesting a conditional use permit for exemption to a facade requirements for a light industrial use in the Garden/O’Day Mixed Use District. Staff is recommending approval, stating the building cannot structurally support traditional masonry material and has been in existence in its current configuration since the 1970s.

Story by Nicole Jones

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