Houston City Council approves expanded area with restricted lot size, use in the Heights

the Heights neighborhood
Minimum lot size areas can prevent multifamily and commercial development within neighborhoods. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)

Minimum lot size areas can prevent multifamily and commercial development within neighborhoods. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)

Townhomes and commercial development will be effectively barred from a nearly 12-block area in the Heights for the next 40 years.

Houston City Council designated a portion of the Heights bordered by the 600-700 block of E. Sixth 1/2 Street to the south and 600-700 block of E. Ninth Street to the north, a special minimum lot size area.

As a result, all lots within the are that are residential must remain residential and cannot be split into smaller parcels for townhome development. The ordinance also stipulates that all residential properties within the area must remain residential. Commercial properties may remain commercial or switch to residential.

This minimum lot size area was amended to include Sixth 1/2 Street despite its removal from the application by the Houston Planning Commission. Members of the community advocated for the amendment during Houston city council’s public session Dec. 10.

"The Heights is a very unique neighborhood in the city and perhaps the city and adds to the character of the city of Houston. The value is priceless and will be lost if not protected,” said Heights resident Paulina Sergot.

District D Council Member Dwight Boykins voted against the item and said he did not want to approve the amendment because it went against the planning commission’s recommendations.

“When we ask these commissioners to volunteer their time and do the work and come in and put in hours of research, I think it would probably be disingenuous for us to override them when they typically work with us,” he said.

Residents in the Heights have used minimum lot size area applications to preserve neighborhood character and property values. Alternatively, residents in gentrifying areas of Houston use the same process to stave off development that may push property appraisals higher and push longtime community members out of a neighborhood.
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


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