P&Z backs decreasing lots size for proposed developments

Posted Monday, Apr. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The tension between sticking to the current land use plan for the city of Keller and adapting to the desires of developers and housing market trends showed up in a recent meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

At the April 22 meeting, commissioners narrowly endorsed two proposals to decrease lot sizes for 20-acre developments: one on the southeastern side of the city and another near Elm Street and Bear Creek Parkway.

One proposed development, called Riverdance, on the edge of Old Town Keller and the city’s trail system, would include 74 residential lots, with some staying at 8,400 square feet and some reduced to patio home lots at about 6,000 square feet.

The other subdivision, The Lakes, would have 35 residential lots, with a mixture of 20,000 square-foot lots and 12,000 square-foot lots, and would be located in the 8800 block of Clay Hibbins Road. The original zoning on the property is lots of 25,000 square feet or larger.

Each plan was approved by a 4-3 vote of the commission. The developments are scheduled to be considered by the City Council at the May 7 meeting.

“We see these requests more and more,” said Commissioner Leslie Sagar. “I’m almost feeling like we’re taking our unified development code and wadding it up and putting it in the trash.”

Sagar voted against both proposals.

Neighboring residents spoke during the meeting about their concerns regarding the developments.

Dawn Hess, who lives on Park Lane North just east of the proposed Riverdance, said she did not like the plan to put patio homes right next to the Bear Creek Trail and was also worried about more rooftops and concrete adding to the flooding problems in the area. Other residents also said they were concerned about the density of the plan and issues with drainage and traffic.

Commissioner Kenneth Lewis said he was not in favor of changing the zoning to allow for patio homes in the development and asked why the developer chose not to connect a stub of Pecan Street on the east side of the project.

“The road issue alone is really troublesome to me,” Lewis said.

Curtis Young, principal with the Sage Group, a planning and architecture firm in Southlake, said developers did not plan to link to Pecan Street because the neighbors to the east were not in favor of the road and the development already had enough routes in and out of the area.

Several commissioners said they liked the plan for Riverdance.

“I’m not opposed to the density proposed,” said Commissioner Jackie Black. “I think Old Town Keller would be ecstatic. I think it’s an effective use of the land.”

Black voted against the proposal on Clay Hibbins Road, along with Sagar and Commissioner Dan Truby, all three citing traffic concerns.

Clay Hibbins is a narrow road with a sharp right-angle turn on the southwest edge of the proposed development. The Lakes would include a road that would link Clay Hibbins to the Villas of Volterra and Davis Boulevard to the east, per the city’s overall thoroughfare plan. Part of the problem with improving Clay Hibbins is that a portion of it runs on the Keller-North Richland Hills border.

Developer Kosse Maykus said the plan for the Lakes was designed to “calm traffic.” To preserve as many of the mature trees as possible and cut down on through traffic, the plan is to run two one-way single lane streets around a central open space.

Brad Moss, who lives on the northern border of the proposed subdivision, said he appreciated the developer’s plan to preserve trees and help maintain levels in a set of small lakes shared by several neighbors.

At first, Moss didn’t like the reduction in lot sizes but has seen the trend of homeowners wanting larger houses on smaller lots. His main concern is about the increase in traffic, especially drivers cutting through to Davis Boulevard. Moss asked the city to consider gating the new community.

Commissioner Paul Frederiksen said that a gate was unlikely and that Clay Hibbins would have to be fixed at some point. The proposed development does a better job of preserving the area’s rural feel and taking natural resources like existing trees and streams into account than previous plans, he said.

Sagar said she was worried that the reduction of lot sizes would become routine.

“We know there will be future development in the area,” she said. “What we do here will set the precedent.”

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