After hours of debate, League City City Council voted 5-2 in a first reading to approve a rezoning of land near Big League Dreams from mixed-use commercial to multifamily residential.

Council will vote for the second and final time at its Feb. 23 meeting.

The rezoning comes as a result of developer CityStreet Residential Partners’ request. The developer has a plan to turn an 11-acre plot of land near the intersection of Big League Dreams Parkway and Brookport Drive into Pinnacle Park Apartments consisting of 339 units.

A mixed-use commercial development would require CityStreet Residential Partners to build retail spaces for shops on the first floor of the building. The developer’s plan instead calls for building 97 residential units on the ground level, which is what prompted the request for the land to be rezoned.

City staff recommended City Council approve the rezoning request with the idea that retail shops would be built near the apartment building.

“Providing a mix of uses in this commercial center is preferred by designating a tract for multiple development. The placement of an apartment complex surrounded on all sides by commercial development will contribute to the mixed-use setting described in the [city’s] comprehensive plan,” a memo to council reads.

However, residents vehemently disagreed. Council received dozens, if not hundreds, of comments related to this development, the vast majority of which opposed the rezoning. Residents cited concerns about crime, traffic, quality of life and other factors when expressing opposition to building more apartments in League City.

Some council members agreed with residents’ opinions.

Council Member Nick Long said council would never vote to rezone retail to residential in a normal circumstance and asked why council would do so now.

“The citizens clearly don’t want it,” he said.

Council Member Hank Dugie disagreed and said that to not rezone the land could mean nothing at all gets built, which would not, he said, be a good deal for the city.

“I don’t think we’re going to get a better option,” he said. “This will pay for itself and more.”

Long noted that the city already has 8,000 apartment units and does not necessarily need more.

John Cutrer, a developer at CityStreet, said the apartments will be high end and serve mainly young, single people who work at NASA and local hospitals. They will drive retail to the area because they are affluent and have money to burn, he said.

“it’s gonna be something that you really don’t see here in League City right now,” he said of the proposed development.

When the item was brought up for discussion—debate on the topic lasted nearly three hours—Council Member Chad Tressler left the room. Tressler accepted campaign donations from someone related to the deal and thus recused himself from the process.

Long and Council Member Andy Mann both took issue with Tressler’s action and said that he should remain in the room during the debate and simply abstain from the vote. Long and Mann said Tressler was using a trick to force the vote a certain way.

Long and Mann threatened to leave the room and break quorum to avoid the vote unless Tressler returned. He did not, and Long and Mann left when it came time for a vote.

After a recess, Long and Mann returned, reestablishing a quorum, but Tressler did not.

Long amended the motion to approve the rezoning under the condition CityStreet make one piece of the development a retail space open within 18 months. The motion passed with Mann and Council Member Justin Hicks opposed and Tressler abstaining.

The second and final reading will occur Feb. 23.