In an effort to prioritize development west of FM 528 at Friendswood Parkway, Friendswood will establish a tax increment reinvestment zone, or TIRZ, despite opposition from nearby homeowners.

What happened

On June 3, Friendswood City Council voted 5-2 to create a TIRZ for 326 acres of land located along FM 528.

The area runs through the intersection of FM 528 and Friendswood Parkway, extending northwest to the city limits and southwest of Baker Road, according to city documents. It also includes three of the four corner tracts at the intersection of FM 528 and Friendswood Parkway.

A TIRZ is an economic development tool cities can use to help fund development using new taxable value from an area. It does this by freezing property values and reinvesting new value into the site for development, according to agenda documents.

In Friendswood’s case, that new property tax revenue will be used to fund infrastructure projects, such as storm sewers, water mains, a lift station and the extension of Friendswood Parkway, according to a city staff presentation.

The Tax Increment Financing Act allows City Council to designate a geographic area to be a reinvestment zone if it determines that development or redevelopment would not occur solely through private investment in the reasonably foreseeable future, according to the Texas Tax Code.

Those opposed

Council members John Ellisor and Brent Erenwert voted against the motion, and Ellisor asked to postpone the vote to further investigate residents' concerns, including traffic safety concerns resulting from an influx of development and the extension of Friendswood Parkway. City Council voted not to postpone voting on the motion.

At the meeting, several residents of the nearby Wilderness Trails neighborhood opposed creating the TIRZ and said they were concerned that the decision could affect their neighborhood's safety and property value.

At a public hearing held during the meeting before the vote, Friendswood residents gave their input on the TIRZ and how it would affect their property in the zone. Some were opposed due to concerns about safety.

“So our children ride their bikes and their three-wheelers and their go-karts in the street. We have joggers in the street, bicycle riders in the street, people who walk their dogs in the street,” Friendswood resident Katherine Hill said. “So, if you open up Castlewood, people are not going to be able to do that, and it's going to cause safety issues.”

What they’re saying

Tannos Development Group shared a letter with Friendswood City Council saying a public-private partnership would be necessary to develop the property because of the area’s lack of utilities and drainage easements would make development too costly.

“The cost of land, design, engineering, drainage, utilities and road would push the cost of this development far beyond any reasonable capability of being marketable,” said Louis Tannos, president of Tannos Development Group, in the letter. “Without TIRZ funding we cannot reach any point in the feasible sales prices to recoup monies invested in this project.”

Seven developers, including Walmart and Kroger, had looked at the area in question but decided not to pursue developing the land due to a lack of infrastructure in the area, City Manager Morad Kabiri said.

“We have capacity in our wastewater treatment plant, but we don’t have the infrastructure necessary to get service to these properties,” Kabiri said.

What’s else?

The decision to extend Friendswood Parkway aligns with the city’s major thoroughfare plan, Kabiri said.