People representing items before the Sherman Planning & Zoning Commission are asked to approach the podium as their item is being read, but one recent item considered saw no one come forward because the request before the commission was from the city itself.

The commission unanimously approved a zoning change from a single family agricultural district to a one family residential development for multiple lots in the Preston Club Estates subdivision. The city approved the annexation of 459.6 acres of land in that development, which is on Sherman’s west side near the intersection of Highway 289 and U.S. Highway 82, in May of last year.

“Our ordinance for the city of Sherman on the annexed property is its annexed as (an) agriculture zone,” Director of Development Services Scott Shadden said to the commission. “Normally when we annex property it would come in as farmland and then it would be developed. This was all developed and then it came into the city.”

Shadden explained the zoning requirements of a single family agricultural district are different enough from how the homes were built that it makes most of the houses and their property setbacks nonconforming. To take care of the issue with the property setbacks, the city also requested an exception to allow the existing setbacks. That request was approved by the commission’s board of adjustments.

“So this request is to go single family residential, which is what the homes are, and to allow any existing structure have its setbacks,” Shadden said. “So they come into the city just like they are and we’ll make everybody legal. If you go to sell your house, the new lender would say it doesn’t conform to zoning, well, yeah it does because it went through this process. That’s the reason the city brought this request forward. It actually makes the existing nonconforming zoning and setbacks to be conforming.”

Last year, city staff said the annexation request from Preston Club Estates was spurred by homeowners’ need for assistance with their water and sewer system. In a document provided to the City Council at that time, city staff noted 78 percent of the property owners for the 331 individual tracts of land in the area signed the petition requesting the annexation.

The commission held a public hearing on the proposed zoning change and exception for the existing property setbacks, but no one came forward to speak on either issue. Both requests were approved unanimously.

“In the past few months, we’ve had a few houses in this area that want to be built but obviously don’t conform to the new zoning, so this fixes that, which makes sense because the neighborhood is at least halfway built,” commission Chairman Clay Mahone said. “So it doesn’t make sense that half of the buildings have already established a certain look and a certain setback and for the new ones to not have to conform to that.”

In addition to the city taking over the development’s water and sewer system, Sherman also provides the area with police and fire protection, solid waste collection and disposal, bulk waste pickup and animal control services. City staff said Sherman officials expected to pay around $2 million for improvements to the area to provide the services needed to the annexed property including adding gravity sewer mains, a lift station and force main.