Despite protests from neighboring landowners, Missouri City City Council approved on Tuesday the zoning for 95.34 acres near Watts Plantation Road, months after a legal mix-up resulted in the Council changing the minutes of a prior meeting.
A Sept. 6 vote by the council on whether to rezone the land for a housing development was deemed “failed” at the time because City Attorney E. Joyce Iyamu said a supermajority of votes was needed to pass. Then, on Dec. 19, Iyamu said advice from outside legal counsel hired by Missouri City prompted officials to determine only a simple majority was needed, and the Sept. 6 vote actually should have been considered “passed.”
Neither Iyamu nor the council explained what prompted the further review, nor did they identify the outside legal counsel hired by the city.
The Sept. 6 meeting minutes were changed on Dec. 19 to state that original vote had passed.
Tuesday’s ordinance passed 5-2 with council members Chris Preston and Yolanda Ford dissenting.
Known as the Briggs Tract, the site was proposed by Ashton Woods for single-family homes adjacent to the Creekmont and Newpoint Estates subdivisions. The developers proposed a detention pond and recreational area to provide drainage, however surrounding residents have argued the new construction will cause flooding in their neighborhoods.
“There have been many comments, questions and accusations about the decision to put this item back on the City Council agenda,” Iyamu said Tuesday. “But I just wanted to state unequivocally that this decision was not made by the City Council lightly or maliciously, nor were the recommendations provided by staff lightly or maliciously.”
After the ordinance was tagged during the Dec. 19 meeting, changes were made to the ordinance to make it a zoning—rather than a rezoning—ordinance. While the land is already zoned to “suburban district,” the council said that was the default classification given to the land when it was annexed in 1987.
Charles Irvine, an attorney representing residents in Creekmont and Newpoint Estates, spoke Tuesday against the proposal and asked the council to explain the changes.
“These changes should have been discussed during the open session,” he said. “This is all about transparency. The people here are frustrated about the goings on behind the scenes without explanations.”
After the vote, Mayor Allen Owen said litigation was still pending from both the developers and the residents.
“The city did what was right and we did legally what we needed to do,” Owen said.
Residents complained that flooding is an issue in their subdivisions and that the developers have not provided a drainage study for the proposal. Owen said drainage is not factored into zoning decisions.
“What council and what [the]Planning and Zoning [Commission] is faced with is, ‘is that an appropriate use of the property?’”