Katy clears way for Cane Island

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The Cane Island master-planned community is a few steps closer to beginning construction following several actions taken by the city of Katy in early November. Katy City Council, acting on the recommendation of the City Planning and Zoning Commission, voted Nov. 18 to approve an amended city ordinance outlining code requirements for Master Planned Community Districts, created a new MUD within the city limits and also opted to annex about 597 acres of land at the future community site. The city also successfully lobbied the city of Houston to release approximately 480 acres from Houston’s Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction, which it intends to annex.

“These are steps in the right direct,” Katy Mayor Fabol Hughes said. “It opens the door to a wealth of opportunity for people.”

The City Planning and Zoning Commission voted Nov. 4 to amend the city’s Master Planned Community District ordinances. The new rules, which were negotiated in conjunction with the Cane Island developer—Nevada-based development firm Rise Development—are meant to “encourage the unified design of large primarily residential communities consisting of 800 acres or more,” according to the document.

Hughes said that having the amended ordinance written will allow much more efficiency in both the Cane Island development and any additional developments proposed in the city.

“There will probably be some refinement, but having it written will make everything easier,” he said.

The negotiation process with Rise allowed for a true give and take, he said.

“I feel really good about it,” Hughes said. “We worked on it for a long time, and we got them to give us [the things]we asked for. “

Dan Naef, CEO of Rise Development, told the planning commission at its Nov. 4 special meeting that it has been “a wonderful experience working with your staff and all of the other elected officials.”

The MPC District ordinance allows greater latitude in lot sizes, street widths, design and layout. At the same time, it outlines tighter requirements for community features such as public parks and playgrounds, churches, schools, libraries, fire and police stations, as well as code standards and specific architectural requirements.

Hughes said it will probably be a little more than a year before the builders start constructing homes at Cane Island. They have to build in the infrastructure and a recreation center first, he said. But as far as the negotiations with the city are concerned, they are ready to build houses, he said.

“I think it’s going to be something that people can be real proud of,” Hughes said. “Once they see what starts happening, they are going to want to move out there.”

The city is anxious to see construction begin as well. It stands to make money from permit fees, connection fees and ad valorem taxes.

To help the process along, Hughes met with Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s office last month to request that the city release about 480 acres currently in its ETJ.

Houston agreed in principle but it will take 90–120 days for the formal paperwork to be complete. The city is releasing the land to Katy with no pricetag attached.

“There might have been a price had there been some sales tax revenue there,” Hughes said. “But logistically they can’t really offer anything to that area. The nearest services they had were 10 miles away on Fry Road.”

Rise Development has also recently contracted to buy an additional 500 acres of land contiguous to the land they already own, bringing the Cane Island total to 1,500 acres, or space for about 300 homes

When that sale is final, Katy will go back to Houston to ask it to release the added land. Each time Houston releases land, Katy will annex it, Hughes said.

“[Rise] wants it all to be in the city of Katy,” he said.

On Nov. 18, the council also approved the city planning commission’s recommendation to create Harris-Waller Counties MUD No. 3, encompassing about 608 acres of the Cane Island land. The creation of another MUD—No. 18—was recommended by the commission but the land is still in the Houston ETJ and no action could be taken on it by the Katy City Council.

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