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Neighbors voice concerns about possible rezoning in southeast Killeen

Posted at 6:20 PM, Mar 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-09 19:44:44-04

KILLEEN, TX — The greater Killeen area continues to expand, but not everyone is excited about the possibility of new developments.

Yowell Ranch residents reached out to Central Texas News Now to share their concerns about the possibility of rezoning in their area.

Susan Howald and Kara Cromwell both live in Killeen.

They shared, although they welcome growth, they are concerned about construction that could take place close to their homes.

"We received that letter in the mail back in February stating that they were going to purchase, develop and rezone that 77 acres," said Cromwell.

"There was only one point of access at that time was from a residential street Addison [Street] to all of those homes. And so my neighbors and we mobilized at that time, went to the meeting," said Howald.

They thought their worries had faded away until another notice came in the mail.

"We've received two more notices that the rezoning is back on the agenda," said Howald.

This time just over 91 acres were tacked on to the original amount.

The two neighbors feel the rezoning in addition to the high school already being built nearby could cause some issues.

"We have a high speed road, two lanes heading into a curb where the high school is going to be," said Howald.

"The only access points to these new homes will be neighborhood streets, there's three streets that will access these new homes but no main road access... which is going to cause a great deal of traffic congestion as well as safety issues," said Cromwell.

Central Texas News Now did get a statement from the city about the rezoning.

"The City of Killeen received a request to rezone acreage in southeast Killeen. The city notified 220 property owners in a 400 foot radius of the property of the proposed change and the date of a public hearing on the case," said Hilary Shine, the city's executive director of communications.

Residents can submit their official support or opposition, and Howald and Cromwell plan to do just that.

"We are collecting the opposition forms from our neighbors to turn in for them we are faxing them over," said Howald.

"A Planned Unit Development with R-1 (residential) uses is what is requested; this will require approval of a Future Land Use Map amendment from ‘Estate’ to ‘General Residential.’ Any new infrastructure is at the developer’s cost and comes much later in the development process," said Shine.

Central Texas News Now reached out to the developer to get more insight on his plans, but we are still waiting to hear back.

According to Shine, "the Planning & Zoning Commission will meet Monday to be briefed on the applicant's request, conduct a public hearing and ultimately make a recommendation to City Council on approval or disapproval for the rezoning project."

On April 1, Howald and Cromwell voiced their concerns alongside dozens of their neighbors at the public hearing about the request.

"It's called a super majority and you have to reach a certain percentage. I think we had 28 percent of the people that they had sent letters to, we had a 28 percent opposition," said Howald.

In addition, although the developer asked for the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) to be changed from Estate to General Residential. The Planning & Zoning Commission approved the FLUM amendment and recommended that the land use designation be changed from Estate to Suburban Residential, which would require larger lot sizes and more separation between structures.

"Which will mean less houses. Which will mean less density, which was one of our concerns," said Howald.

We did reach out to the developer, Josh Welch, who shared, "Things right now are very preliminary. It is difficult to say what may or may not get built until the City Council has approved some kind of FLUM amendment and zoning change. What they approve will determine if building anything is even feasible."

A lot of the residents considered the public hearing a big win and a step in the right direction.

"Proud of us for letting our voices be heard. I'm really happy with the city that they listened to us and that they were open to what we were saying and hearing our concerns about emergency services and things like that. I'm also happy with our, with the developer," said Howald.

The Planning & Zoning Commission tabled the actual zoning request and plans to reconsider it at their meeting on April 15.

Based on the outcome of that meeting, the Killeen City Council will consider the zoning request which would be the actual zoning change.

And city officials confirmed, although the commission recommended Suburban Residential, at this point, the request will still go forward to the council as Estate to General Residential.