Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify J.B. Mire is the property owner, not Jeff and Jessica McClung and that he wants to turn one, not three, of the structures into office space, according to J.B. Mire. This story also previously attributed comments to Jeff McClung instead of J.B. Mire. The McClungs and Mire are neighbors, Mire said in a May 20 email. Mire said he and his wife Cindy Keys applied for the rezoning of the property on James Street.

Tomball City Council denied a motion May 16 to rezone six lots—approximately 0.64 acres in total—in the 500 block of James Street from a single-family residential district to an Old Town and mixed-use zoning, which would allow some commercial uses in the area. The area is across from the Tomball Public Works building.

Community Development Director Nathan Dietrich presented the request by the property owners during the meeting. He said the property owner, J.B. Mire, wants to use one of the structures on the lots along with an empty lot next to a mini-storage to create professional office space.

Mire said he was inspired to create a pocket neighborhood and he and his wife Cindy Keys applied for the rezoning of the property, according to a May 20 email. He said they have lived in Tomball for four years, love it and have no plans of leaving.

“Change is coming to Tomball. ... It’s going to happen in places probably where a lot of people didn’t think it would happen,” Mire said.

Dietrich said city staff recommended approving the rezoning because the rezoning is in line with the future land use plan. However, the city's planning and zoning commission disagreed and voted unanimously to deny it as a recommendation to City Council.

Dietrich said staff notified residents who live within 200 feet of the properties, and of those who responded, all were opposed to the zoning change.

Some of the concerns expressed by both the planning and zoning commission and residents who live in the neighborhood included fears that commercial businesses would decrease property values and future unwanted businesses might come into the lots, such as a strip mall or an auto body shop. Dietrich said those types of businesses would be possible with the change in zoning.

More than a dozen residents who live in the neighborhood of the six lots voiced their opposition to the zoning change.

Scott Moore, who lives across the street from four of the lots, said he is concerned about the safety, because Pine Street is not very wide and he believes adding in traffic would make it more dangerous.

Kevin Labbe said his property backs up to two of the lots, and he opposed the rezoning.

"[The development map] showed all the spots that had become multiuse, and when you look at it, it’s like we’re getting pushed out. It feels like we’re getting pushed out of the town, and that’s not what we want,” Labbe said.

However, Jeff McClung, who recently moved to the neighborhood, said he is in support of the rezoning because the empty, neglected lots are more of an eyesore than commercial development.

Council members agreed that changing zoning of the lots would be concerning as to what future businesses could come in. Council Member Mark Stoll said the pocket neighborhood is a viable idea, but the council is concerned about the future if the existing property owner, were to leave.

Mire said the properties could be made deed restricted to ensure the future of the lots.

“We can’t control [deed restricted]; we have to vote on what we can control,” Stoll said.