The city of Pearland has a new land use plan to advise development of undeveloped land.

What happened

On June 24, Pearland City Council voted to adopt an amended version of the Pearland 2040 Comprehensive Plan, which gives guidance on land use, development and the city's future appearance.

While future land use plans are not the same as zoning regulations, and the recommendations are not legally binding, nor do they create budgetary obligations, the planning and zoning commission along with City Council will reference them when making decisions, according to a city staff presentation.

Since taking the first steps in 2021 to develop the plan, city staff held four meetings and two workshops with the comprehensive plan advisory committee, nine stakeholder meetings and 33 public meetings, according to agenda documents.

In 2023, the city began distributing online surveys to gauge how Pearland residents wanted to develop the city’s remaining land. Results showed housing affordability and maintaining good public infrastructure were top priorities for residents, according to agenda documents.

What they’re saying

The proposed plan recommended finding “clear paths forward” to permit accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, within existing residential neighborhoods.

An ADU is a smaller, independent residential dwelling unit on the same lot as a single-family home, according to the American Planning Association.

Property owners wishing to build an accessory dwelling unit in an area zoned for residential use would need to bring their plans before City Council for approval, Director of Community Development Vance Wyly said.

Some City Council members felt changing the language regulating ADUs could lead to chaos and disrupt peaceful neighborhoods.

“From my standpoint, that causes the heartburn,” council member Tony Carbone said. “I would be in favor of adding language protecting our current residential zoning because I don’t think it’s the intent of the plan ... for this to provide a pathway for ADUs in our ... neighborhoods.”

In a survey sent in December, 13% of respondents said ADUs were necessary to support Pearland residents, according to city staff.

Council member Joseph Koza said he felt the survey findings indicated residents did not support ADUs, which Wyly disagreed with.

“If we’re going to zone something, instead of turning upside down current zoning, [let’s] zone new areas as such,” Koza said.

Koza requested an amendment, which passed unanimously, that the plan be updated to reflect ADUs could only be permitted in “certain zoned areas” and argued allowing ADUs in existing neighborhoods could potentially render areas zoned for single-family housing to become multifamily housing.

Those in favor

Mayor Kevin Cole highlighted sometimes ADUs are often sought out when a property owner is tasked with taking care of an older loved one who they would like to live on their property.

“[With the proposed ban], they’d have to look at mom or dad and say, 'I can bring you in, but I can’t do X, Y and Z for you here under what’s being proposed,'” Cole said. “However, I agree with you that we don’t want to destroy the neighborhood feel.”