Recommendation to limit multi-family units in Sugar Land draws criticism


During a public hearing Thursday, a resident addressed the city of Sugar Land’s planning and zoning commission, speaking in favor multi-family residential developments over recent recommendations to update the city’s land use plan.

The citizen-led Land Use Advisory Committee put together the recommendations, which were based on research and public feedback, according to the committee’s website.

The plan is a guide that provides direction for City Council when they make decisions on the city’s limited land, said Lisa Kocich-Meyer, director of planning.

The recommendations would place strict limitations on multi-family developments, suggesting the total number of multi-family residential units should not exceed more than 12 percent of the total housing units in the city and its extraterritorial jurisdictions. The plan also recommends these multi-family complexes only be developed in mixed-use activity centers such as Sugar Land Town Square.

The restrictions resulted from a public movement against high-density housing developments, committee member Julia Mickum said.

At this time, multi-family units comprise approximately 9 percent of the city’s single and multi-family housing units, Kocich-Meyer said.

Resident Mark Anawaty said the land use plan policies are out of line with the city’s goal to attract talent and businesses. The cap may present an obstacle for future growth, he said.

“All those people can’t live outside of Sugar Land if you want the business to be here so you can have the tax base,” Anawaty said.

In order to support businesses and commercial growth, the city needs more residents, he said.

“If the plan is anti-growth—and I don’t think that’s the intent because I’ve heard enough language in there that it’s not strictly anti-growth—then we should address the diminution of tax revenues if we can’t get enough bodies in the city to attract the retailers and the restaurants and the hotels in the area that we want to have,” Anawaty said.

Additionally, residents’ concerns about the impact on school districts is unfounded as relatively few families with school-age children move into multi-family complexes, he said.

“It’s young professionals in these apartments, it’s empty-nesters,” Anawaty said.

Commissioner Kathy Huebner said she agrees with Anawaty’s statements and does not support this portion of the plan, and the cap limit is too low.

“I just think that we can’t set an arbitrary limit on the amount of multi-family [units]or we’re not going to be successful in creating the mixed-use activity centers that this committee visualizes,” Huebner said. “We need to consider, I think, multi-family [development]on a case-by-case basis.”

Other members of the planning and zoning commission expressed similar thoughts.

The city needs to provide suitable housing options if it wants to be a premier destination and bring in big businesses, Commissioner Carl Stephens said. If this cap limit precludes affordable housing for professionals, it would be detrimental to the city’s growth.

“That’s saying, ‘We really don’t want you—you can bring your company but leave your people at the city limits,’” Stephens said.

The plan will go back to the planning and zoning commission Nov. 14th for their further consideration, and commissioners will vote whether to recommend it for City Council’s approval, Kocich-Meyer said.

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  1. Brad DeSplinter

    No more apartments in Sugar Land. We have too many now. No matter how nice they are today, in 5-10 years they will be a dump and a major factor in reducing property values. If Sugar Land has desirable businesses, retail and eateries the people will come even if for no other reason than to go somewhere nice away from the blighted apartments in their home town.

  2. Not the sentiment of the Sugar Land taxpayers and voters. Over 3200 voter signatures in less than 30 days opposing high density urban development. Carl Stevens is in development. Kathy Huebner speaks for the City Manager. She stated in a public hearing that she listens to the important people, the developers. These two commissioners should have been replaced long ago.

  3. There are plenty of apartments in the galleria area for young professionals. The additional traffic congestion is not what Sugar Land residents want or need. I moved here 15yrs ago for the open space that was sugar land. Today, Traffics and congestion are daily occurences.

  4. The plan at holding multi unit housing at 10-12% is not anti growth. It’s common sense w long term care for our city. I came to Houston 38 years ago and lived in what I called the ghettos of tomorrow. The area is now crime ridden. Do you want to see that in our community in 20 years? What kind of workers will you draw then?

  5. I’m an architect and I live in Sugar Land. Before moving here I spent two years as the President of a Super Neighborhood in Southwest Houston. I wasn’t able to make it to the hearing, but allow me to comment here:
    It is IMPERATIVE that Sugar Land be VERY CAREFUL with respect to the development of new apartments. History has proven that if multifamily developers are given free reign, they will overbuild. And if they overbuild, the problems are tremendous. Exhibit A: Greenspoint. Exhibit B: Westwood. Exhibit C: Gulfton. That said, I am not against an increase in the cap on apartments. However, it has to require balance. I would suggest:
    1: Leave the 200 unit limit in place for all developments except “urban” plats. For them, set a limit of 200 units if they have less than 200,000 square feet of commercial space, and 1 additional apartment unit per 1,000 square feet of commercial space over 200,000. (Require that the commercial space be permitted or built before the apartments can break ground).
    2: set strict design guidelines and code amendments for apartments. Ban enclosed parking garages in residential developments. Require Crime Prevention through Engironmental Design for all apartments. Require that all apartments over 200 units be a noncombustible construction type and require that all new apartments be sprinklered.
    3: Finally, and this is non negotiable: any increase in the limit on apartments in Sugar Land MUST be accompanied by new regulations from City Council to clamp down on older apartments. If they don’t already, all existing apartments need to get periodic inspections; the older ones annually. The City has to Aggressively red tag substandard apartments at the first sign of trouble. And and they shouldn’t hesitate to condemn and demolish the worst apartments. (A $1,000 a unit multi family development fee could be imposed on new apartments to help pay for this.)
    Again let me State: I’ve seen what uncontrolled multifamily development can do to a neighborhood. I railed against it for two ears before I gave up and moved here to Sugar Land. Apartment developers want to build as many units as they can as fast as they can, to sell to investors who run them It is on the Planning Commission and City Council to look out for Sugar Land’s future. I hope they make the right decisions.

  6. John Torgersen

    Its pretty obvious that the P and Z Commission stage manages these meetings to make it appear that there is some even split between those who support and don’t support their friends inn the development communities desire to build more apartments in Sugar Land.

    It is a ridiculous assumption that companies wont move to Sugar Land if their employees might live in other areas because we don’t have apartments. Most of Sugar Land commutes to Houston for work, but people wont commute the other way?

    Given the huge tax give a ways the City Council has approved for companies that move here, they are not going to leave.

    Don’t think for even a minute that the developers wont be advertising all these new apartments that they want to build as having access to excellent ‘FBISD-Sugar Land” schools”.

    As reported in this very paper, apartments built in this area are not occupied by empty nesters and young people, they tend to fill up more with families, than do apartments in other areas……why? the schools.

    Justin Silhavy, director of demographic projections at PASA, said multifamily housing developments in FBISD produce a higher number of students than do multifamily developments in other parts of the state, with apartments in FBISD producing 0.41 students per unit. That average is significant, he said, because many more apartments can be fit onto an area of land than can single-family homes.

    “When you talk about hundreds or thousands of apartments, the number of students can really add up,” he said.

    By comparison, the PASA report estimates the average single-family home produces 0.56 students.

    Silhavy noted the number of students per apartment recorded in Katy and Lamar ISDs is smaller. The higher average could be a result of the higher number of immigrants in FBISD, Silhavy said, suggesting immigrants might be less opposed than native-born Americans to raising families in apartments as opposed to single-family homes.

    12% of the housing stock being Multi family means one in every 8 home would be an apartment, and teh only people who really think that’s a great idea is the people who will profit from their construction.

    Don’t fall for this scam by the Developers and those that they control on the P and Z Commission and City Council. Vote out anybody who approves of this plan.

  7. Mark Anawaty, President of Anmark Development Inc. ?

    Anmark Development Inc. filed as a Domestic For-Profit Corporation in the State of Texas on Wednesday, February 22, 1978 and is approximately thirty-nine years old, according to public records filed with Texas Secretary of State.

    Interesting though that Mr. Anawaty is listed in the article a a resident, but not also as a Developer.

    Sloppy reporting?

  8. Carl Stephens, 2nd Vice Chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission- who lists his occupation as “Developer”.

    Two Developers say we need more apartments?


Renee Yan
Renee Yan graduated May 2017 from the University of Texas in Arlington with a degree in journalism, joining Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in July.
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