Highland Village Mayor Daniel Jaworski said he heard residents’ voices, and he responded to their pleas.
Jaworski was one of three members of council who voted against a proposed change in the zoning ordinance for a townhome development at the council’s March 28 meeting. The opponents prevailed even in a council vote that did not feature a majority outcome.
Council voted without prejudice and approved, 4-3, an application changing the zoning for land where the townhome development would be built. But council’s vote did not mean the measure passed, as a supermajority vote of 6-1 or 7-0 was necessary, because the application received a petition of opposition for the development that met the criteria in the city ordinance.
The developer can bring back the same application immediately or can make changes to the application.
Voting in favor of the zoning change were council members Jon Kixmiller, Brian Fiorenza, Robert Fiester and Tom Heslep, while Jaworski, Shawn Nelson and Mike Lombardo were opposed.
“I voted no for a number of reasons, but chief among them was the feedback from the residents,” Jaworski said in an email. “Ever since this project was first brought to planning and zoning last summer, I have had a constant stream of emails and text messages from residents voicing their opposition to it, and those living closest to it were the ones I heard from the most. And while that's not unusual, what was unusual was the submission of official protests by virtually every resident within the 200-foot proximity. From what I was told by staff, we've never seen that level of opposition before. So, to see the effort and passion of our residents was, to me, that was too much to ignore.”
Dusty Broadway of Broadway Builders requested to change the zoning of a 3.96-plus-acre tract of land located at 102 Barnett Blvd. by enacting a planned development overlay district for 39 lots of attached single-family townhomes.
Among the proposed regulations were that townhomes would be required to have a minimum of 2,242 square feet of air-conditioned space, two dedicated garage spaces, a driveway with two dedicated parking spaces and not exceed a height of 35 feet, typical of a two-story dwelling. The price point for the townhomes, intended for ownership and not rentals, was around $540,000 each.
After a lengthy discussion with the developers, council heard from 11 residents, some of whom discussed environmental, design, fire, density and traffic concerns, while others cited concern about having the development close to their property.
“I’m sorry, but I cannot get excited about multiple two-story households having direct line of sight into my backyard,” resident Elizabeth Stasny said.
John Hinesley, who moved to Highland Village 29 years ago, said he liked the city because when one turns a vehicle from the “craziness” of FM 407, he or she enters a neighborhood of single-family homes. He added he was concerned about the development from a traffic standpoint, and that he did not like the townhomes being located next to Heritage Elementary School.
Resident Jean Bassinger said the development is not what residents want.
“This is what the developers want, because they’ll make the most money per square foot, and they can build up,” she said. “You see every city around us building at least four-story apartments, and it is turning into apartment jungles.”
Kixmiller pointed out that more than 40 people declined to speak, but threw their weight behind the project by filling out pro-development forms.
“It is representative of what we hear tonight—it is not all one direction,” he said.
In an email, Lombardo said the reason he voted against the development was because the "vast majority of feedback I received from Highland Village residents was strongly opposed to the development. The people simply did not want it."
Community Impact did not receive a response from Nelson for a request for comment.