There’s good news for the Kerrville City Council but we’re sensing big political vulnerability coming up in 2020 as the Council is inevitably faced with a workforce housing decision that could be problematic.
Right now, according to a The Kerrville Daily Times survey, the five-member Council enjoys a 64% approval rating, with 50% of all respondents saying they strongly approve of the job the Council is doing.
Last week, the Planning and Zoning Commission was faced with approving zoning for what is arguably one of the biggest housing projects in the city’s long history — 510 homes on more than 200 acres south of the Riverhill neighborhoods. The P&Z Commission failed to make that decision, leaving the developer the choices of appealing to the city council or coming back with a different plat.
The vulnerability was demonstrated by the strong showing of those living in the Riverhill area, who showed up in force to voice objections to the planned development. At one point, the property, which sits just east of Medina Highway, was planned to have single-family homes on 10-acre lots. However, the property is zoned R-1, which means that the developer could have placed a larger number of homes on the property, but instead went with a medium density zoning plan.
In this plan, the developer, D.R Horton, will only utilize about 120 acres of the land, leaving almost 100 acres for open space. Still, a majority of the lot sizes are less than 7,000 square feet — many 5,400 square feet.
That left Riverhill neighbors troubled about traffic and diminished home values. If you just take a cursory look at Zillow.com, or other housing websites, it’s easy to see why there are concerns — most of the homes that would be adjacent to the development are valued at more than $300,000. The new homes are expected to start in the $200,000s.
Mayor Bill Blackburn described the lack of a decision from the P&Z commissioners as a setback, but he also said it wasn’t a surprising outcome. Blackburn, along with the rest of the Council, has been adamant that workforce housing is a critical need for the city, but in the face of steadfast opposition it will be interesting to see how the Council will handle the vote — it should be an interesting start to what will be a very interesting 2020.
We had a reader ask us to clarify lot sizes because she didn’t understand the concept of square feet when it came to the description of a lot size. In some areas, the reader wrote in an email, that lot sizes were determined by width and depth.
OK, it’s a fair question. In terms of lot sizes, a single acre is 43,650 square feet. The U.S. Census Bureau tracks the size of lot sizes across the country and since 2009 the average size has shrunk nearly 20%. The average lot size in 2018 for new home construction was 8,982 square feet or about one-fifth of an acre. Before the Great Recession, the lot sizes were about 10,000 square feet nationally.
Another interesting take, this one from the National Association of Home Builders, is that new home development in Texas is most likely on 7,400-square feet. This only on speculatively built homes — not those privately built by a homeowner.
We noticed some pushback about our use of Facebook polls as not being scientific, but we like them as a temperature check. While in the format of polls we utilize for Facebook allows us only two choices and strict character limits, we like the tool because it’s a single user choice — you don’t get to vote more than once. If we really wanted to spend the time, we could also breakdown some basic demographic data on the location, gender and age of participants.
I WILL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
Speaking of Facebook, we asked our audience there if they were going to stay home or hit the road for Christmas and 87% said they were staying in the Hill Country.