Many of us moved to Sugar Land to escape a Houston where politicians and city bureaucrats were co-opted by developers which had a free pass to do whatever they wanted, including building apartment complexes that allowed them to make a fast buck while destroying established neighborhoods. For many years we had truly conservative, visionary leadership in Sugar Land which respected, and actually listened to, their constituents. They let the city planners do their work, but made sure that the final result was good for the people of Sugar Land.
The coming vote on the Imperial Apartments, which are planned for the historic Imperial Sugar Factory District, is a defining moment which will let us know if this is still true or whether our city government has been hijacked by crony conservatives who profess to know best what is good for us, even if we don’t agree.
Proponents of these apartments advance bogus arguments in support of the apartments. I say bogus because these are simply “cover stories” intended to mask the fact that they are really beholden to the interests of developers and not their constituents. The first rationalization is that these are “high quality” apartments that will not increase crime. They proudly point to the example of the Grants Lake Community as Exhibit A. However, as the February 18, 2012 Fort Bend Star article titled MAN ROBBED IN RESIDENTIAL PARKING LOT attests, the residents of this community have been victimized by excessive crime. Is this what we want for our neighborhoods? I don’t know of any dilapidated complexes that did not begin as “luxury” apartments, which is what happened in the wastelands of northern Bellaire and Fondren Southwest. Why take the chance on this happening to Sugar Land?
Second, proponents say that there is a shortage of apartments in Sugar Land and we need them to support our businesses. Really? I don’t think the residents of West University or the Rice Village area would agree. The businesses in the Rice Village are doing just fine without new apartments. Those folks want to keep their neighborhoods just the way they are and so do we. And to say that the Sugar Land area does not have enough apartments is to turn a blind eye to the numerous apartment complexes throughout our area, including nearby Kempner High school and in the City of Stafford adjoining Sugar Land.
The fact is that when Johnson Development Company made its deal with the City, it knew the exact number of apartments that could be built on that property, a number which had been previously negotiated with the developer. For us baseball fans, this is the same as changing the rules in the middle of the game in order to substantially increase the number of apartments. But Johnson can’t do this without the help of our elected representatives, who not only have to approve the change, but also disregard the City of Sugar Land’s Comprehensive Plan which was enacted in 2005.
Many believe that this is a “done” deal, but we know that nothing is a done deal in America, which is what the Tea Party Movement is all about. The question is whether our elected representatives, all of whom ran for office as conservatives, will follow the will of the people or give in to the will of the developers. It’s that simple.
We know that life isn’t fair, but our government should be. Public servants should follow the will of the public and not the will of the developers which, after all, is the foundation for our democracy.
Attorney and Counselor