Several Sherman residents recently spoke out against a zoning request because of concerns about flooding and traffic issues it could create.

A trio of residents from the Laurel Creek subdivision recently appeared before the Sherman Planning & Zoning Commission, with several more in the audience, to ask that a variance not be granted to allow 11 lot widths under the normally required 60 feet in a 26 lot residential development in the 400 to 500 blocks of Laurel Creek Drive. The commission’s board of adjustments ultimately approved the variance and a replat for the development, requested by owners Mitchell Enterprises LTD, though commission member Sean Vanderveer voted against both.

“The biggest concern we have is the amount of traffic that is flowing down this one street and everybody coming in off of Highway 56,” Laurel Creek resident Sandy Jarvis said before addressing the congestion created by neighborhood residents parking on the street. “Also, isn’t there something about the number of residential parking spaces on the city street for friends and family that come and visit or housekeepers or lawn men, things like that? I didn’t know if these smaller confined areas would support this type of size.”

Director of Development Services Scott Shadden said the city doesn’t have any requirements for street parking. Sherman Director of Engineering Clint Philpott said a traffic impact analysis has not been done by the city or the Texas Department of Transportation.

“This was part of the original master plan, to have this area be (residential) lots, whenever it was designed,” Philpott said. “Once there’s enough traffic at an intersection, TxDOT will do a study to determine if any signalization needs to be done. Unfortunately, they don’t do predictions. They have to wait until it meets the amount of traffic before they’ll put up signals.”

Another major concern for the residents that appeared before the commission was flooding. David Vilbig, who represented the item before the commission as his engineering company Vilbig & Associates Inc. is working on the project, said he and the developers are in the process of doing a flood study as the area is flood prone.

“My firm and myself have been doing work up here in the Sherman area for years and years,” Vilbig said. “We’ve done a number of residential subdivisions where we are allowed to have the lot width of 60 feet at the building setback, 25 feet off the property line. The lots that we are requesting are in cul-de-sacs or on curves. The lots are actually bigger than they need to be but lot frontage is not 60 feet.”

Commission member Joe Gilbert said the developer’s request is not unusual and listed a number of cul-de-sacs in Sherman that are similar.

“In those cul-de-sacs, the lot square footage is larger than the other lots but they’re narrower at the front,” Gilbert said. “All the other concerns that you have are not related directly to the shape of the lot. The flooding and traffic study, are beyond our realm of expertise. We’re not here to address those items, those are all with the city staff and their review of their submitted documents.”

Commission Chairman Clay Mahone also explained the board of adjustments was only looking at allowing 26 homes in the area versus the 23 that would be allowed by city ordinance.

“I don’t care if they build one (home), it’s still going to make us flood,” resident Sandy Mischkot said. “Until you have something that shows what he plans to do for drainage, what he plans to do for traffic, you cannot OK this.”

But the commission ultimately disagreed, with only Vanderveer voting against what he called a big request.

“I think at some point, when you buy a property you know the size, you know the shape, you know the potential,” Vanderveer said. “And I know we keep seeing this over and over but at some point, you’ve got to understand what you have to work with and you work within it. It seems like everybody just buys it and asks for forgiveness later. I know from a financial standpoint, 26 lots makes more sense than 23, but this is a lot of request here.”