Katy City Council denied a request to rezone 17 acres of residential land as C-1, or commercial use, near the Pine Meadows neighborhood. This came after the city's Planning and Zoning Commission and city staff recommended the council deny the change and 14 residents spoke up in opposition at a public hearing on April 11.

The area, designated as R-1—or residential, single-family land space—is located at the southwest intersection of Franz Court and Avenue D. The request to rezone was received as a written petition by the residents of the subject area, according to Rachel Lazo, city planner for the Public Works Department.

Officials at a Feb. 8 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting recommended denial of the rezoning based on the timing of the request, citing two reasons.

First, commercial land uses are slated to be updated in May. And second, a Future Land Use Plan projection and map are being developed as part of Katy’s new comprehensive plan, which the city plans to finalize in spring 2023.

According to Lazo, the area has been zoned as a single-family district since 1983. She said that looking into these zoning ordinances for the sake of the comprehensive plan has also shown how “antiquated” the zoning district land uses are, and that they “do need to be updated.”

“There are some uses that are not appropriate for the zoning district,” Lazo said. “We are currently in the process of proposing ordinance amendments and that should come before you all sometime in May—so that's on the near horizon.”

Gary Jones, a Katy resident who gave comment at the hearing, also spoke to what he called inequitable zoning ordinances.

“We have a zoning system, in my opinion, that is damaged and only equal at the present,” Jones said. “I understand you are going to have a comprehensive study somewhere down the road, [but this is] impacting us right now.”

City officials described Franz Road as a high-interest area based on the public hearing.

Council member Janet Corte pointed out the northern side of Franz Road has been a commercial zone, while the southern portion remained residential. Corte said that over the past few decades, these zoning ordinances have caused contention between neighbors, when they should have brought harmony.

She said she hopes to take a more detailed look at these ordinances as part of the comprehensive plan.

“There is a balance we have to do between commercial and residential, because the commercial is what helps us lower your property taxes,” Corte said. “But does that mean we have to put it throughout the city? No. We have to depend on things like our comprehensive plan to tell us the best place for residential and [the] best place for commercial.”

According to City Attorney Arthur Pertile III, city officials must base zoning maps and ordinances on the comprehensive plan.

“That is why you do your comprehensive plan first,” Pertile said. “Then you overlay your zoning on top of that.”

But Pertile also said the city Council could vote to make zoning adjustments as long as three council members vote in the affirmative.

To that end, Mayor Pro Tem Chris Harris made a separate motion to start the process of rezoning the north side of Franz Road from C1 to R1 space as soon as possible in an effort to have both sides of the road zoned the same way.

Pertile said this type of change must follow legal precedence. That means going through the City Planning and Zoning Commission at their May 10 meeting, then being added as an agenda item in the subsequent city Council meeting on May 23.

Harris' motion did pass, starting the process of getting the rezoning item before the city Council on May 23.