|January 23, 2011||Comments Closed|
A developer’s request to rezone a 153-acre tract in the Chapel Road area has drawn opposition from neighbors and a negative recommendation from city planners as it heads to the Waco Plan Commission on Tuesday.
Brad Harrell of Waco PRC Development has been seeking a “planned unit development” or PUD designation that would include 30 acres of commercial zoning along Ritchie Road. It would also include more than 300 units of single-family, duplex and triplex homes.
But Harrell said he will ask the commission Tuesday to withdraw the request so he can refine his plans.
“In the next six months we want to finish a plan with the city of Waco, meet with the homeowners and try to get a plan that works for everyone,” he said.
City planner Clint Peters said if the commission chooses to withdraw the request, the application can’t be submitted for another six months. If the application is rejected by a vote, the wait would be a year.
The commission postponed a vote on the plan in December because the staff requested more information from the developer.
Harrell has not supplied that information, so the staff is recommending against the proposal.
At the December meeting, the proposal drew opposition from more than 50 residents of surrounding subdivisions, including Stonehenge, Fossil Ridge and Arrowhead Estates.
“What we’re largely objecting to is the inclusion of commercial,” said Stephen Davey, who lives in Fossil Ridge.
He said the area’s streets are already dangerous, and adding hundreds more residents, along with possible stores and gas stations, would aggravate the problem.
“You put that many people in and add commercial, with that many more cars, and you’ve exacerbated an existing problem,” Davey said.
Harrell said that with existing zoning — single-family and multifamily — he could develop much more densely than he is proposing.
That could include about 450 units of apartments on the 38 acres now zoned as multifamily. But he said he prefers a lower-density development that’s more compatible with its surroundings.
He said he is seeking the commercial zoning along Ritchie Road because that road is about to become too busy for residential development.
Ritchie Road between Panther Way and Chapel Road will soon be realigned and expanded from two lanes to four. The project is intended to help create an alternative parallel route to the overcrowded Hewitt Drive.
Harrell said that years down the road, that stretch of Ritchie Road might support a store and gas station and low-impact uses such as an assisted living center or a health club. He said he wants to change the zoning now so it’s not a surprise to residents later.
“I don’t want somebody to buy a house thinking it’s going to be residential all the way to the street,” he said.
Peters said the planning staff could support the concept of limited neighborhood retail along Ritchie Road. But he said Harrell hasn’t explained why such a large amount of commercial zoning is justified.
In a Dec. 8 letter, the city staff noted technical problems with the application and requested more information from the Waco PRC Development, but it has not received a response, Peters said.