Following months of debate and planning, a new type of neighborhood is slated for development along Hufsmith-Kohrville Road in Tomball after receiving approval during the April 17 Tomball City Council meeting.
The future site of Alexander Estates, a 70-acre neighborhood, was purchased by developers in 2005 and annexed into the city limits in 2014. It was zoned for single-family homes with lot sizes no smaller than 9,000 square feet.
A zoning request to change the land from a Single-Family 9 District to a Single-Family 6 District—which would have allowed for a higher number of smaller homes—was brought to the council last October, however it was ultimately denied.
“Since then, the market has evolved, and we’re coming back to you with a plan we feel is better,” said Doug Eibsen, landowner, general partner and president of BCDE Ltd. and Eibsen & Associates.
As a compromise, the developer has now requested the land be rezoned as a planned development, which would allow for homes smaller than required in a SF-9 District while adding community amenities, such as varying lot sizes, recreational areas, a pocket park and a large drainage pond to help alleviate flooding in nearby neighborhoods, such as Country Club Greens and Albury Trails.
As part of the planned development district, the neighborhood will be subject to design regulations, such as facade standards and tree preservation.
“It is less intense than the previously proposed Single-Family 6 rezoning,” Community Development Director Craig Meyers said. “None of these standards that I’ve outlined here are in any of our residential zoning districts, these are above and beyond what they would have to be.”
Additionally, the number of homes will also decrease from a previously requested 300 homes to 251, officials said.
The plan also aligns with City Council’s request to city staff to pursue developers looking to build smaller home options for older residents looking to downsize in the area, an agenda item discussed during the council’s April 3 meeting.
Several residents spoke in opposition during the public comment portion of the meeting, citing concerns the proposed entrance on Spell Road will add more traffic on the two-lane road and more development in the area will lead to more flooding issues in the future.
“I’m not opposed to the property being developed; I think any responsible development is acceptable as a part of a growing community,” nearby resident William Bisso said. “What I am opposed to is the fact that Spell Road is a very tight, congested space to begin with. I think the density here is a problem and I think the solution is to put the traffic out of the new development onto Hufsmith-Kohrville Road.”
However, the council, staff and the developers stated having a main entrance on Spell Road is safer than one on Hufsmith-Kohrville Road, and past flooding events—including last year’s Tax Day flood—are rare occurrences.
“Yes, we all suffered from flooding,” Council Member Field Hudgens said. “Businesses and property were damaged, but the flooding that you [should be]concerned with is not the 500-year flood, it’s maybe the 100-year flood because that’s what we have to plan around.”
Meyers said building permits will not be granted to the developer until work is completed to install a traffic signal at the intersection of Spell and Hufsmith-Kohrville roads, a county project expected to be complete in June.
A start date for construction on Alexander Estates has not yet been announced.
Additionally, Meyers said Harris County Precinct 4 is moving forward with plans to widen Hufsmith-Kohrville Road from two to four lanes, which should be complete in late 2017 or early 2018.
“We don’t anticipate any adverse impacts,” Meyers said. “The increased runoff can be handled adequately and also the increased traffic—one [additional]vehicle every two minutes—is considered negligible.”
Tomball City Council is expected to approve the zoning request for a second and final time during the regularly scheduled May 1 meeting.