The township’s development standards committee reviewed the proposed change Nov. 4, which in addition to stating the property would be used exclusively for up to 30 single-family residences instead of the original 19 allowed, changes the minimum square footage for the houses from 7,000 square feet to 3,000 square feet.
The amendment also states that structures can be no taller than three stories, and no part of the property can be used for a nonresidential or multifamily dwelling.
At the meeting, which was held through videoconference, the committee approved the amendment, with four members in favor and three members abstaining.
Heath Melton, executive vice president for master-planned communities with The Howard Hughes Corp., presented the request at the meeting and outlined how the development would proceed. He said the company would continue to meet with residents as the process moves forward, and he remarked on the company’s history of developing in The Woodlands around an eagle habitat in accordance with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services permit.
“We have been great stewards of the environment, particularly the eagle, for the last few decades,” Melton said.
The developer reached the compromise for 30 houses after a previous proposal to increase the development to 58 units was met with opposition from East Shore residents. The proposal is for a 22-acre island in the community’s midst referred to locally as Mitchell Island or Eagle Island because of the eagles present in the area.
Residents raised objections to a proposal that initially went before the Houston Planning Commission to replat the island for 58 units, citing reasons such as density of housing and possible effects on the eagle habitat.
On Oct. 19, the developer and residents released a joint statement about the compromise reached for up to 30 units for the island.
Jim Carman, president of the Howard Hughes Corp.’s Houston region, said in a phone interview the company has a history of working closely with residents, village associations and homeowner associations to address concerns over development plans.
He said other recent discussions in which residents and the company have worked together include the Founders Reserve neighborhood, which had expressed concern last year about trees removed during construction of a new building for Alight Solutions off New Trails Drive.
Carman said after talks with residents, the developer made changes to the lighting, fences and reforested the affected area.
In the joint statement with Howard Hughes, Tami Houston, president of the local group Citizens for Eagle Island that formed amid the discussions, said the group hopes to be kept in the loop with real-time development drawings and updates.
At the Nov. 4 meeting, she said she also remains concerned that trees will be removed during future construction that could affect the eagles’ hunting and feeding habits.