Standing room only at Stafford Planning & Zoning Committee
By Karen Daniels
The Stafford P&Z meeting did not get off to a great start last Tuesday night. On the agenda was a request by The Carson Companies for a Special Use Permit (SUP) located on Highway 90A and Promenade Blvd (golf driving range). The standing-room-only chambers spilled into the hallway. Extra chairs were brought in, but not enough.
The Promenade subdivision had shown up to protest this permit, however, there wasn’t a quorum. Only three commissioners were present; Art Ortega, Virginia Rosas, and Chairman Auturo Jackson; missing were Joe Rome, William K Bostic Jr., and Vice-Chair Xavier Herrera, who arrived thirty minutes later. Several audience members voiced their suspicion of the delay; most felt disrespected.
The City Attorney, Art Pertile, explained that the P&Z Commission is “not a decision-making body.” They are volunteers appointed by Mayor Scarcella. The committee only has three choices: 1) Approval with Recommendations 2) Approval without Recommendations or 3) No Recommendations. The 11.95 acres has been zoned for commercial since 2011.
The SUP approval would allow for light industrial. Daniel Zoch, Managing Director of Carson Companies, presented a slide show of other buildings they have built in and around Houston. “We intend to be good neighbors.” There was no announcement about potential occupants.
When the public hearing was opened, community members stood in line to voice their disapproval. They were spirited, passionate, and organized. They were not hostile, as suggested by Martin Bronstein, owner of the property.
Community members and residents listed the following concerns:
• Safety of the children;
• Businesses that run a 24-hour shift; • Excessive 18-wheel traffic in their subdivision;
• 15-22% potential property value decrease;
• Enough unoccupied commercial buildings;
• Bright lights shining into residents’ windows and backyards;
• More strangers into the neighborhood;
• Save property for retail. No hazardous materials are allowed in light industrial, but this was still a concern with some. Several people said they were told by the builder that new homes were going to be built there.
The discussions lasted for nearly three hours. Mayor Scarcella said, “do not pre-judge us” and that he “has great respect” for those who spoke. Due to the size of the expected crowd, the Wednesday, March 21 City Council meeting will be held at the Stafford Civic Center at 7:00pm, immediately following the swearing in of new council member, A.J. Honore.
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