A plan to rezone more than 200 acres that would clear the way for more than 500 homes to be constructed hit a major snag Thursday night when the city of Kerrville Planning and Zoning Commission deadlocked in a 3-3 vote on what to do with the project.
Led by residents in the Riverhill neighborhood, which would adjoin the new development, commissioners were faced with significant opposition in the meeting.
Every Riverhill resident — including former Mayor Jack Pratt — who spoke during the public hearing opposed the development, with some citing concerns about increased traffic, degraded property values and quality of life.
The project will now most likely land in the lap of Kerrville City Council, which will have ultimate say on whether the project moves forward.
As part of the Kerrville 2050 plan, workforce housing was a major theme for the City Council, and on Wednesday, Councilman Gary Cochrane said he supported the development. Mayor Bill Blackburn, who was not at the Planning and Zoning meeting, has also said that affordable housing was an important need for the city.
The land that once was designated for large homes on 10 acres could now have lot sizes as small as 5,400 square feet. The plan was met with fierce opposition by area homeowners.
The city received a petition with 80 signatures opposing the zoning changes. The P&Z conducted a show-of-hands vote and counted 59 opposed and six in favor.
The project, which would be developed by national builder D.R. Horton, features 510 lots of varying sizes. The homes would be single-family, detached homes in the $200,000 price range.
One of the few people who spoke in favor of the project was a man who represented Hill Country Telephone Cooperative. He said he was worried about retaining good employees due to a housing shortage.
After most people had aired their concerns, owner/developer Chuck Cammack said he would be willing to give up some lots next to Riverhill and limit adjacent homes to one story.
An engineer presented a traffic study that he said found no significant effect from traffic from the proposed development, which most residents who spoke openly questioned.
The development would provide connections into the Riverhill neighborhoods, and have a major entrance on Medina Highway.
P&Z Chairman Garrett Harmon said the commission wanted to find a balance between the desires of the local retirement community and the working people who need affordable housing.
“It’s going to be hard to retain that workforce if we don’t get a handle on this housing,” Harmon said.
The developer said he would be willing to enter into a new development agreement with the city, presumably to take into account some of the concerns raised by current residents. The developer may appeal the commission’s lack of approval to the City Council.