Narrow City Council vote pushes Baker’s Landing plan forward

Narrow City Council vote pushes Baker’s Landing plan forwardA nearly 80-acre planned development known as Baker’s Landing is in the works to add more than 230 single-family homes and townhouses in Pearland along Hwy. 35. By a 3-2 vote on Oct. 26, City Council approved the proposal, which will be developed by homebuilder D.R. Horton

Baker’s Landing will include 6 acres of land zoned for general business, which permits a variety of establishments, such as retail stores and entertainment venues. The commercial component was added after council rejected an earlier proposal for a strictly residential development in fall 2014, Pearland Director of Community Development Lata Krishnarao said.

“If it was [only] residential, it really did not fit in with the future land-use plan because it called for a village district,” she said. “The thought was, since it was so close to our Old Townsite, in the future [the area] would develop into more of a mixed-use [corridor].”

Although Pearland city staff was unable to recommend approval of the zone change needed for the planned development, Krishnarao said the approved plan addressed the major concerns expressed by staff and council, including lack of housing diversity and commercial land.

“[Staff] thought there was more potential to make it a more mixed-use [development],” she said. “We didn’t feel that it truly [aligned] with the comprehensive plan, but it was getting closer. By looking at what the comprehensive plan said, we had to state that it didn’t meet [our] recommendation.”

City Council Member Keith Ordeneaux—who voted against Baker’s Landing—also said the development needed more commercial zoning to spark activity in the Old Townsite. With Alvin growing south of the city, Ordeneaux said land along Hwy. 35 is prime for future retail opportunities.

“We need to revitalize the Old Townsite,” he said. “There’s ways of doing that, but the grand plan that’s out there [right now] will not come to fruition in my lifetime.”

Even without a recommendation from city staff, Council Member Tony Carbone voted in favor of the planned development. Carbone said Baker’s Landing was a good balance between Pearland’s future vision and market demand.

“I think we need something to spur growth in that area, and I think [Baker’s Landing] could be that catalyst,” he said.

Narrow City Council vote pushes Baker’s Landing plan forwardDevelopment concerns

D.R. Horton, which would not comment on the development because the land purchase was not finalized as of press time, submitted its first planned development for approval in fall 2014. Council rejected the application and Horton submitted a new proposal in August, officials said.

In response to concerns by council and staff, Horton added townhomes and varied the residential lot sizes. Officials also wanted a space for commercial business included in the plan.

“The main thing for us was that there would be some commercial aspect to it, and that is included,” Pearland City Manager Clay Pearson said. “It was uncertain whether there would be in earlier versions.”

Ordeneaux said the land was better suited for retail to benefit from traffic on Hwy. 35. He said he would have approved the development if Baker’s Landing included a larger commercial space.

“Honestly, I just don’t think it’s the right project for the area,” Ordeneaux said. “There is an abundance of residential properties in the area. Part of [Baker’s Landing] needs to be residential, but the final plan gave 6 acres out of 80 as commercial, and there’s no plan [for]developing that commercial [land].”

Almost 70 percent of Pearland is zoned for residential use, according to Krishnarao. Balancing the future tax revenue source is a growing concern as the city approaches build-out. Including a variety of land uses, such as light industrial and commercial, is crucial to maintaining city services and quality of life, officials said.

“The city is always interested in a mix of land uses that are sustainable long-term,” Pearson said. “That’s what our perspective has got to be.”

The addition of homes and families in Baker’s Landing will bring more money to the city in the form of property and sales taxes, Carbone said. He said upon build-out Baker’s Landing will add  $67 million a year in taxable value.

“The [houses] will have people who spend money to eat and shop,” Carbone said. “I really hope this [development] starts to be a catalyst to more development on Grand [Boulevard] and in this area.”

The homes also have the potential to raise the value of neighboring subdivisions, Carbone said.

Krishnarao said there were safety issues with the development’s proximity to Hwy. 35. While Baker’s Landing accounts for the future right of way, there were additional concerns from city staff because some homes will be within 300 feet of railroad tracks.

The 80 acres that comprise Baker’s Landing—which boundaries are Hwy. 35 on the west, Old Alvin Road on the east, Walnut Street on the north and Mary’s Creek on the south—will include 191 single-family homes and 48 townhomes upon build-out, according to officials.

The development will be constructed in two phases, however, a timeline is not required in a planned development application, Pearson said. Phase 1 will consist of 112 single-family homes. The remaining single-family homes and townhouses will be part of Phase 2.

Amenities in Baker’s Landing include a 7-acre lake, 2.2 miles of trails and a 12-acre park with a playground, pavilion and fishing pier, according to officials. The open space will also have more than 4 acres of mature trees and two “pocket parks.”

“I look forward to the development coming in and what it’s going to do for that area,” Carbone said. “I think the [approval] process worked, and I think we’ve got a good planned development that will serve that area.”


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