Chapel Run subdivision meets opposition for street variance

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A variance allowing developer The Signorelli Co. to build 26-foot-wide streets in its Chapel Run subdivision along Hwy. 105 West and Tejas Boulevard was brought back for reconsideration at Conroe City Council after council members’ split opinions could not be reconciled.

Ultimately, the council voted in favor of the developer’s variance from the 29-foot Conroe standard.

Chapel Run, located in Municipal Utility District 149, was approved to build 26-foot-wide streets in a 2-2 tie broken by the mayor, who only votes in case of a tie. Council members Duke Coon and Seth Gibson, who initially voted nay, brought it back for reconsideration Jan. 24, when it passed 3-2.

The street-width controversy surrounded whether emergency vehicles could pass two SUVs parallel parked along one of the narrower streets.

“We need room in those streets to deploy apparatus once we’re on the street,” Conroe Fire Marshal Steve Cottar said at the Jan. 23 workshop.

City of Conroe Engineer Inspector Terry Osborn said he agrees.

“It’s a nightmare getting through [a narrower street]in an F-150 [pickup truck]when a lot of vehicles are parallel parked. [It’s a] disaster waiting to happen when a larger emergency vehicle needs by,” Osborn said. “We inspectors do not make policy; we carry it out. None of us like this variance.”

Signorelli Development Manager Jeff Dewese said driveways could be staggered, garages will be built and the homeowners can create parking rules.

Many cities around the U.S. and globally have narrower streets. Nearby neighborhoods with 22- and 24-foot-wide roads include Grand Central Park and The Woodlands Hills, which were also approved by City Council.

Council Member Jody Czajkoski said the council has a goal of growing homeownership in Conroe, which can help boost sales tax revenue.

“A buyer’s income would have to increase by 10 percent to support the same home on 29-foot street versus 26-foot street,” CEO and President Danny Signorelli said. “Combined with lot-size minimums reduced from 50-foot lots to 40-foot lots, Conroe is moving closer towards quality development regulations that take into consideration the homeowner and what the market can afford.”

Chapel Run’s homes will range from $250,000-$300,000. Conroe’s average household income of $60,000, according to census data, can qualify for a $150,000 single-family home.

“Families should have a choice on whether they want to pay premiums for extra-wide streets or use those dollars for other necessities,” Signorelli said.

Council discussed creating a committee to make street-width recommendations in the future.

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Jules Rogers
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Jules Rogers has been covering community journalism and urban trade news since 2014. She moved to Houston in June 2018 to become an editor with Community Impact Newspaper after four years of reporting for various newspapers affiliated with the Portland Tribune in Oregon, including two years at the Portland Business Tribune. Before that, Jules spent time reporting for the Grants Pass Daily Courier in Southern Oregon. Her favorite beats to cover are business, economic development and urban planning.
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