The Sherman City Council agreed to a zoning change to allow a 300-unit apartment complex to be built on FM 1417, overturning a decision made by the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission last month.

Despite vocal opposition from 10 residents from the Preserve and Country Ridge Estates neighborhood over concerns ranging from property values to safety, the council unanimously decided to change the zoning of 22 acres at the southwest corner of Quail Run Road and FM 1417 to a multifamily residential district, at the request of property owners Graham Mortgage Corp. Council member Terrence Steele said the apartments are needed in the city, as Sherman currently has less than a three-month inventory of housing available.

“That’s not good for a city that’s growing, because when people look at coming to your city for jobs, and they can’t find housing, those jobs aren’t going to be there,” Steele said before also addressing some of the homeowners’ concerns with safety. “Hearing conversations about not feeling safe if an apartment complex comes to your area, that’s stereotyping, and I don’t think that as a citizen, we should even think about that. Somebody could mug you going out in the parking lot here, but that doesn’t change the fact that Sherman is a great community with great services and great people living in it.”

The P&Z commission cited those homeowners’ concerns, as well as the city’s FM 1417 Overlay District, when it denied the request last month and kept the zoning as a retail business district.

Council member Pam Howeth said she understands the homeowners’ concerns, but said those concerns would be expressed throughout the city.

“No matter where you go in Sherman, everybody’s going to say, ‘Not my neighborhood, not my area,’” Howeth said. “We are definitely considering all of your concerns and stuff, but there are needs for apartments for people and this could end up being, could be a Wal-Mart, could be another Town Center there with all that traffic.”

Swan Ridge Drive resident John Gasper said he’d already discussed carrying firearms around the area with his neighbors, as allowed by Texas Open Carry laws, if the zoning was changed.

“That’s what we’ve discussed doing — open carrying to make a statement that we’re afraid to be in our own neighborhood now because of the type of crime, that very, very typically — can’t guarantee every single time — but very typically comes with apartment living,” Gasper said.

Property values and safety weren’t the only concerns as homeowner Lisa Collins expressed an issue with the traffic the new apartment complex would create.

“I don’t think that dumping 300-600 cars at a choke point there at the end of Quail Run Road is a safe idea or the best use of that property,” Collins said.

That was also a concern expressed during last month’s P&Z meeting and Michael Coker, who represented the property owners and developers, came prepared to dispute it.

“I listened to the folks that are here today at the Planning & Zoning commission meeting and I thought, ‘I really don’t think they understand the mechanics of what this current zoning has,” Coker said of the area’s existing residential business district zoning. “I looked at 300 units of one- and two-family apartments and the trips that they would generate.”

He explained that based on trip rate information from the Institute of Transportation Engineers, 300 apartment units such as those proposed would add about 1,950 trips a day.

“Now, that’s a lot of trips, but it pales by comparison to developing only 10 percent of the remaining 22 acres,” Coker said. “If we developed just 10 percent in a mix of uses that are allowed under C1 zoning, it would generate 11,342 trips a day.”

During the meeting last month, City Engineer Clint Philpott said the Texas Department of Transportation would require a traffic impact analysis before a large development like the proposed apartments could be built.

“(It would be) basically a study to determine what, if any, additional infrastructure would be needed,” Philpott said. “Currently under contract, TxDOT has a safety project, and it goes along (FM) 1417 from Highway 11 and runs all the way up to (FM) 691. That safety project currently includes one lane in either direction, the left turn lane and a full nine-foot shoulder on each side of the road. That’s what’s currently proposed and actually funded and under construction right now.”