By Elsa Maxey
There has been controversy about a new stretch of road in Sugar Land’s extra territorial jurisdiction that will make a connection from the Riverstone subdivision to the one with Sweetwater residents on Commonwealth Boulevard. Both of these areas are considered affluent in Sugar Land, so the issue is not about connecting substantially different neighborhoods. But rather, the opposition has to do with safety, noise and the impact on property values due to increased traffic.
Sugar Land spokesperson Doug Adolph said the extension of the road segment is 2.5 miles. Formerly Spine Road, it is now known as LJ Parkway and named after Larry Johnson, President and CEO of Johnson Development, hence the LJ. As it stands now, “LJ Parkway will not be shown to connect to Commonwealth as part of the plan,” said Adolph referring to the city’s master thoroughfare plan. He said a study will be undertaken to address the situation “to determine the need, identify the street layout and determine what connections should be made.” In other words, where and how LJ Parkway will connect is still being reviewed, he said.
Originally the proposed tie-in of LJ Parkway in Riverstone would go to Commonwealth Boulevard near Palm Royale. According to reports from the city, the extension into that area is in a General Plan agreement approved by City Council back in 2003 with the developer of Riverstone, Johnson Development.
But opposition to the road extension became evident in June when the issue, part of an update to the city’s master thoroughfare plan went before the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. A month later, which was the time that city council convened a public hearing on the plan on July 17, about 10 citizens, who signed up to speak made their opposition sentiments known. They included Dr. Robert Sandstrom, Catherine Koehl, J. L. Frank, Myatt Hancock, John Niemand, Leslie Niemand, Carl Mazzo, Cindy Bond, and Naomi Lam.
But it was not before City Manager Alan Bogard reported that Councilman Harish Jajoo and City Engineer Christopher Steubing had visited with the Riverstone developer and the site. Bogard said city staff proposes a modification in the thoroughfare plan that includes a look at a variety of options to eliminate the connection at Commonweath in part due to resident feedback and also attributed to power lines and legal issues associated with the area. An existing connection between Scenic Dr. (formerly Oil Field Road) and Commonwealth was suggested as an alternative and also reclassifying Palm Royale as a minor collector road, instead of a major collector. Along these lines, councilmember Amy Mitchell asked for a traffic analysis to see about reducing the speed limit on Palm Royale.
At press time city council had not yet met this week. However, it should be noted that the terms of the development agreement state that city council has to approve the LJ Parkway connection in a public meeting. According to Bogard, both the developer and the community would be involved in finalizing the right option to meet mobility needs without negatively impacting the neighborhoods.