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.