Letters to the Editor 01/20/16

Sugar Land Apartment Policy

Last night amidst a passionate audience at Sugar Land City Hall, I spoke before the Planning and Zoning Commission on how to best handle the ongoing situation with planned development as it relates to multifamily housing. I simply called on them to adopt a formula for determining such development (since a 200-unit cap is too arbitrary and does not actually solve the zoning crisis the city is facing), reminded them of how difficult it would have been for folks in the 900 apartments Newland proposed to walk to a grocery store (you would have to cross a ditch, a One-Lane roundabout and a residential neighborhood to reach Kroger), and urged the P&Z to act carefully in planning such development given the long-term failures of the many complexes in Gulfton that were hastily built in the 1970s without regards to quality.

Now I will admit my statements weren’t necessarily perfect, and I’m sure Toastmasters would be knocking on my door any moment! But as a young professional, an active concerned citizen, a proud Dulles and UHV grad, and resident of a multi-generational household who has explored branching out into one of these newer multifamily developments for reasons I cannot state on a public forum, I find myself on my own private island. It is very important that city leaders find balance in planning quality use of our land when it comes to attracting corporations, tourists and retailers that fit Sugar Land’s upscale demographics. But we cannot do it at the expense of taxpayers who moved into the city for the quality of life that this city has worked hard to accomplish. And yes, many of the folks who spoke last night on both sides of the coin do indeed have valid concerns.

It is time for the City Council and P&Z to stop playing catch-up with places like The Woodlands and Katy, whose leaders have actually learned how to balance the concerns of all their stakeholders (and I don’t mean the ridiculous stadium Katy ISD proposed that voters actually rejected). It is time for the City to grow up and come to grips with reality, because the last thing Sugar Land needs is a city without a zoning plan, and no one wants a Sugar Land with no distinct land use strategy or platform for championing high-quality development that will attract desirable demographics to our housing stock, attract corporations and small business incubators that help reduce our property tax burden, and attract retailers and restaurants that actually fit our city’s demographics and create jobs for young folks trying to feed their families and build up their work ethic.

The time for punting the ball is over. Sugar Land is on the clock, and it’s time for them to convert on fourth down and make that big leap into the future before it’s too late.

–Kyle Stanley

Sugar Land Development
(from fortbendstar.com)

Kudo’s to Ms. Barot for getting this right. It’s refreshing to see a “journalist” who gives the facts, to the point, unparsed and unbiased. Truth of the matter is that the city is now attempting to change the number of signers on a referendum petition from 30% of the “number of people who voted in the last election” to 15% of the “total number of registered voters”. The justification for this is to “make it easier” to do the math. Can anyone say “5th grade” boys and girls? Smoke and mirrors comes to mind here as 15% sounds like a much smaller number than 30%. Should be a no brainer for most folks at first glance right? However, 15% of 47,000 is much greater than 30% of 6,700. (47,000 being total number of registered voters and 6700 being the approximate number of individuals voting in the last election) To all thinking voters, this is a very obvious attempt to marginalize the ability of the citizens to petition for change in anything having to do with the city govt. Interestingly enough, this comes on the heels of a petition that was recently signed by the citizens to stop the city’s attempts to make changes to the code to allow for the ultimate “urbanization” of the city of Sugar Land, which has built a its reputation as a suburban city. In short, the changes city made would have allowed Newland Properties, or any other developer to build any number of apartments, anywhere the Planning and Zoning (unelected committee) recommended, and the city then rubber stamped. Open records requests show campaign contributions to several councilmembers from the developers, so does this surprise anyone? Does Houston come to mind here? Thanks Subhrata. Keep up the good work.

–Randy Taylor

(from fortbendstar.com)

A good article to read. It felt good to hear that you are bringing the fresh food. Freshness really matters when it comes to the taste. That’s why I love in with Thai food.

–Albert Allen

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