By Pat Wilson
At the City Council meeting on June 27th there was a Public Hearing to receive comments from residents concerning a Proposed Ordinance of the City of Katy, Texas amending Zoning Ordinance No. 621.
The ordinance reads as follows:
“An Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Katy, Texas Amending the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Katy, Texas Ordinance No. 621; Creating “Ardenwood Park” planned Development District, and approximately 204.36 acre tract single family residential and commercial use development located South of Clay Road, East of Katy-Hockley Road, West of Katy-Hockley Cut Off Road and North of Morton Road; Allowing for future subdivision of tracts of land within the “Ardenwood Park” planned Development District…”
This would allow the land to be rezoned from a Residential-1 designation to a planned development district. The rezoning would open the way for new residential and commercial development to be built. The development named Ardenwood Park would have 374 homes and a more than 47-acre strip center with mixed retail.
The proposed development constructed by the Houston-based developer Ardenwood Group is going to be situated near Hunters Terrace neighborhood in Katy. Between 100 and 150 residents attended the meeting to vent their frustration and concerns with the proposal. Residents’ comments to City Council included:
• The new development would make traffic problems worse
• Create the potential for flooding
• Would attract criminals
The residents feel that the City Council elected officials have not done a thorough investigation into all the potential ramifications of the proposed development. More than 14 different speakers addressed the council, with some speaking twice. Berzin “Fred” Bhandara, a representative for the developer, took the podium to address the concerns stating that they want to be good neighbors.
The Council decided to continue the hearing at the July 25th meeting. During the July 25th meeting, again there were more than 100 residents present to present their concerns.
On Monday, July 25th there were so many residents present, many had to stand both at the back of the room, as well as in the council chamber doorways and lobby. The same speakers from the previous meeting again came forward to voice their concerns and presented the council with a petition signed by more than 200 residents asking the council to reject the Ardenwood Park PDD. The speakers went on to say that it was clearly a Houston plan and that this PDD should not be a model for Katy. The residents would prefer a strictly residential community that did not include commercial property.
A few speakers made not-so-veiled threats to any council members who chose to vote in favor of the Ardenwood Park PPD.
One Hunters Terrace resident that was against the opposition stated that they were acting like a mob by implying that if the council did not vote their way, they would be voted out in the next election. Several residents took offense to this statement, voiced their displeasure, and tried to shut the resident down. The resident then continued, stating this was exactly what he meant.
When Bhandara went to the podium to speak, he stated his group was willing to go back to the drawing board and make more changes, but that didn’t mean that they should throw “the baby out with the bathwater.” He continued to say that he realizes that drainage is a big issue and promises they will do everything in their power to make sure this neighborhood drains correctly. He also stated that they intended to include more detention ponds in the new neighborhood, where Hunters Terrace does not have one.
Councilman Durran Dowdle suggested the representatives from the Hunters Terrace area and the Ardenwood Group sit down and work their differences out.
“[The residents] should be part of the discussion,” said Dowdle. “Let’s move forward and continue this hearing and find an applicable agreement for all parties.”
The only difference in the two city council meetings was that the parties concerned – Ardenwood Group, the developer, and the residents dissatisfied with the PDD as it was presented – have agreed to sit at the same table and hash out their differences. This is the first time the residents have been invited to work with the developer to find a solution to their concerns.
No details of the negotiations have been worked out as of this time. Stay tuned as news develops on this story.