Tomball City Council finalized the approval of a planned development for a 360-unit apartment complex at FM 2920 and Tomball Cemetery Road on Dec. 6. However, many community members were present at the meeting to protest the apartment complex, which is directly south of the Pine Country subdivision.

City Council approved the first reading of the planned development at its Nov. 15 meeting, Community Impact Newspaper previously reported. The complex will include one- and two-bedroom units with the target market being those making $42,000-$60,000 a year.

Almost a dozen residents urged council members not to approve the development. Most of the residents' concerns involved potential increases in crime and traffic accidents, lower home values and worsened conditions during flooding.

“Don’t let two guys come in here and persuade the city of Tomball to do something that’s terrible for our town,” Pine Country resident Kyle Keith said at the meeting.

Community Development Director Nathan Dietrich said at the meeting the city decided to do a planned development with the developers so the city could have more control over the specifics of the project. The 18-acre lot was previously zoned as commercial, which means the landowner would have more than 100 options to build on the site without having to get council approval. However, a planned development requires council to approve the use, Dietrich said.

Council Member Lori Klein Quinn said doing a planned development for the apartment complex is better for residents than keeping it as commercial zoning.

“We have to make a decision that is not going to be an easy one, but you have to think about how bad it could be,” Klein Quinn said at the meeting.

Despite this, multiple residents still had concerns about the project and said they would prefer to “take their chances” with an unknown commercial development rather than an apartment complex.

“We’re being sold an idea that alternatives to this apartment complex are very scary,” said Mike Clark, who lives on Pine Tree Drive.

Council Member Derek Townsend said he and other council members were not trying to scare residents but protect them. Townsend said if council had voted down the apartment complex, the city would have had no control over the lot.

“We can’t stop progress, but we can control progress,” Townsend said.

Tomball Police Department Chief Jeff Bert addressed concerns from residents about a potential increase in crime due to the apartment complex. Bert said crime rates vary based on the apartment complex, but property crimes in general are not directly linked to apartments.

Bert said one of the most significant determinants of crime in a residential area is having a gated community, which the proposed complex would include based on the planned development agreement.

Developers Sean Ratterree and Tolu Akindele responded to the public's comments during the meeting, saying they have addressed their concerns through various conversations with the city and presentations. Both developers said they are willing to work with the residents of the Pine Country subdivision to further address concerns and make any necessary changes to the development.

“We do want to be good neighbors,” Ratterree said.

Klein Quinn said the city is trying to meet a need in the community to bring young people to Tomball, which she said is better suited through an apartment complex than a commercial development.

“This is a decision as to what also is needed in Tomball, and this does meet a need for young people to come back that can’t afford houses,” Klein Quinn said.

Townsend moved to add an amendment to the planned development to ensure the developers follow dark-sky policies to limit light pollution and have security cameras on the property, addressing two concerns from local residents. The amendment and the second reading of the planned development both passed 4-1 with Council member Chad Degges opposing the development.