After more than two hours of discussion Tuesday night, the Kerrville City Council unanimously approved a plan to enter an agreement with the developer of 510 homes in an area along Texas 16 and south of the Riverhill area.
The deal points came in after the city's planning and zoning commission deadlocked on the issue last month, but developer Chuck Cammack came back with several changes to the project — called Vintage Heights — in an appeal to the city council.
"Chuck has done a great job in trying to address everything, but in trying to make everybody happy, he's ruined what he brought forward," said a Bruce Stracke.
Stracke named one of the changes since the Planning and Zoning meeting, an 8-foot wooden fence to divide Vintage Heights and Riverhill, as something he thinks is concerning.
"Somebody today said, 'Why don't we just lay down the railroad tracks?'" Stracke said. "And that's a terrible thing to hear. That is not the kind of city that we want to be."
Vintage Heights has not come without significant opposition. One attendee at the meeting, Cindy Anderson, suggested to the council that they take more time to explore other options for housing.
"This is simply the wrong location," Anderson said. "We have been bombarded with calls for workforce housing from the front page of the newspaper, Business Link magazine, over and over to where things become a frenzy. ... I fear that you members of the city council are being pressured to approve this housing proposal at all costs."
Builder D.R. Horton was denounced at the meeting by several claiming that the quickly-built homes aren't good quality and would hurt the property value of neighboring subdivision Riverhill.
Place 3 Council Member Judy Eychner pushed back against some of those complaints by saying she saw many appealing D.R. Horton-constructed subdivisions in San Antonio.
Another topic of question from the meeting's audience included a tax rebate. As part of a list of other agreements, including the dedication of improvements for water and sewer, the developer is seeking a 45% tax rebate to ensure workforce housing is constructed in the development is priced at $227,000 or lower. How many of those homes will fall into that pricing model is unclear.
Some said they felt this was not the way to go, such as Jerry Wolf, who thinks too many people are asking for tax rebates and incentives from the government these days.
"I don't see why it is necessary in Kerrville," Wolf said. "This is crony capitalism."
Ward Jones, another present at the meeting, said the project is worth government support in order to help the middle class find more affordable housing and boost the economy.
"Those who would keep things exactly as they are today will see this community eventually stagnate or decline for lack of a vibrant, growing middle class," Jones said.
Mark Foust, superintendent for the Kerrville Independent School District, said that his family waited about nine months to find a house and some of the KISD employees are finding themselves pushed out of the community for lack of housing.
Place 1 Council Member Gary Cochrane made the motion to approve the deal point, with a second by Place 4 Council Member Delayne Sigerman. They also unanimously approved rezoning the area to allow for bigger lot sizes.
This was a first reading on the changes needed to approve the final project; another reading will be held in two weeks.
Other key concessions that the city will agree as proposed by the developer are:
Traffic. That’s a big concession for the developer, which will not route traffic from the proposed development into Riverhill. The plan now calls for streets to “stub out” or dead-end and not produce traffic into those established neighborhoods.
Two-story homes. A large section of the development featured homes abutting several homes in the Riverhill community and the developer said he would not build two-story homes in that area.
Density. The developer says he will not construct duplexes, townhouses or “patio homes’’ in the development. Cammack also wrote that 40% of the more than 200 acres will be dedicated to open space.
As part of the proposal, many of D.R. Horton’s contributions come into play and the Cammack writes that the homes will be similar to developments in the San Antonio area.
Other key components will be:
- 10-year home warranties from the builder.
- A property owner’s association to ensure the area is maintained post-construction.
- 75% of the construction will have masonry exteriors.