After failing to sway the Sherman Planning & Zoning Commission last month, residents from the Laurel Creek subdivision recently addressed the Sherman City Council about flooding and traffic issues a replat request could create. But the council also voted to approve the request after saying there was no legal reason to deny it.
“If they’ve complied with all city regulations, the statutory language is mandatory that you approve,” City Attorney Brandon Shelby said to the council after citing section 212.005 of Texas Local Government Code.
Three residents from the Laurel Creek subdivision and the surrounding area spoke against the replat request by owners Mitchell Enterprises LTD to divide 9.92 acres in the 400 to 500 blocks of Laurel Creek Drive into 26 lots for residential development. The commission recommended the approval of the request last month by a vote of 8-1, subject to the staff review letter written by city personnel.
Area resident Sandy Mischkot said approval of the replat would create the need for flood insurance for the residents currently there.
“I ran a quote on just my home just to see,” she said, explaining a bare-bones policy would end up costing homeowners at least $3,000 in deductibles with any claim. “I’d probably be lucky to get $30,000 and it runs over $1,100 a year. And that’s just no coverage at all.”
Sandy Jarvis expressed concern with the safety of current residents if the new subdivision is built and brings additional traffic.
“We do not have sidewalks,” Jarvis said. “So our neighbors walk the streets with their puppy dogs and their kids and their strollers. I don’t know what the city is going to do to help protect us and one of the things I thought was we really need another in and an out.”
After the public had its chance to comment, council member Shawn Teamann asked whether the city requires developers to address water runoff issues at the time of development.
“We have ordinances in place to address the runoff that would occur,” City Manager Robby Hefton said. “Through our development office, we have fee in lieu of detention, which would contribute toward regional type detention facilities in the future or that they do on-site detention, which would be detention close to the area that’s being developed to retain the water and slow it down enough so it can run down the creek.”
But Hefton also pointed out the issue before the council was just concerning a replat request.
“As part of our staff review letter, we tell them that they have to adhere to our floodplain ordinance and our subdivision ordinance,” Director of Engineering Clint Philpott said, explaining those ordinances take into account FEMA approval and land being developed being two feet above the 100-year flood elevation. “Approval of the plat is contingent that they meet all of those.”
Philpott also explained the developer has hired an engineer to do a hydraulic study of the whole basin.
“Part of our floodplain ordinance is there’s a zero rise, so whatever they do, if there’s even an inch of rise in the flood plain it won’t be approved,” Philpott said. “They have to prove upstream and downstream that what they’re doing is the same as it was before.”
Before approving the replat, the council discussed tabling the request, as had been brought up by a citizen in opposition to the item, but Shelby explained Texas Local Government Code section 212.009(a) states the item would be automatically approved after 30 days if the request is not denied.
“I don’t believe we have a choice,” Deputy Mayor Jason Sofey said.
Members of the audience said requests had previously been denied twice before, but Shelby explained those were likely denials of requests for exceptions. There was no exception being requested of the council this time.
“If they denied it, it would be based on noncompliance of city regulations,” Shelby said. “If they comply with all our regulations in asking for the replat, approval is required.”
Sofey ultimately made a motion to approve the item, with council member Terrence Steele initially seconding it “reluctantly,” he said.
“I know it’s not our job to say ‘subject to the staff review letter,’ but I think that’s implied,” Sofey said.
The motion was approved unanimously by the council, though council member Pam Howeth was absent from the meeting.