Survey: Majority of The Hill residents favor exploring development regulations, standards

Homes in The Hill neighborhood in Sugar Land date back to the early 1900s and have a bungalow or cottage aesthetic.

Homes in The Hill neighborhood in Sugar Land date back to the early 1900s and have a bungalow or cottage aesthetic.

Survey results from residents in The Hill neighborhood in Sugar Land indicate 77% of respondents are in favor of exploring new regulations or taking a closer look at current regulations for home-development standards.

During a public meeting July 31, Abigail Martinez, a long-range planner on Sugar Land’s city staff, presented results from surveys open to residents in The Hill over a seven-week period, from Dec. 17, 2018-Feb 1, 2019, in response to concerns regarding a spike in home demolitions and redevelopment in the city’s historic neighborhood.

“Overall, there is an indication that they want the city to address the redevelopment in the area with regulations,” Martinez said.

The city’s outreach efforts—covering the entire neighborhood—yielded responses from 35% of property owners, Martinez said during the presentation.

“Some general takeaways from those series of public engagement efforts were that The Hill community does agree that new houses and additions should be in character with the neighborhood, but they would also like to maintain the freedom to do as they wish with their property,” she said.

According to the feedback, residents are concerned about the sizes and scales of the newer homes. Residents also made it clear they do not want a homeowners association implemented in the neighborhood.

During the process, a city-appointed committee of five property owners in The Hill have been meeting to draft a vision and plan for the future of the neighborhood.

Committee member Melissa Hoffman said during the meeting that the committee recommends moving forward into Phase 2 of the project that would implement revisions to the development code.

Recommendations for Phase 2 include the following:
1) Explore reducing lot coverage or other methods to prevent property owners from building out too much of the lot. Current maximum lot coverage is 40%.

2) Explore maintaining existing height regulation but consider design solutions to ensure scale is still in character with other homes. Current maximum height is 27 feet.

3) Gather more feedback on front yard setbacks. Current regulations require 25 feet from the street to the housing structure, preventing many residents in The Hill from constructing front porches.

4) Further explore modifications to garage regulations as far as height and distance from the property line is concerned.

5) Define the architecture style in The Hill and build new construction and remodels in keeping with the historic character.

Residents attending the meeting had another opportunity to provide feedback on the committee’s draft vision and recommendations. Those who could not attend can visit to provide feedback online until Aug. 12.
By Beth Marshall
Born and raised in Montgomery County, Beth Marshall graduated from The University of Texas at San Antonio in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in communication and a minor in business. Originally hired as a reporter for The Woodlands edition in 2016, she became editor of the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition in October 2017.