Plans to market a property along FM 120 for commercial use were recently met with opposition from the neighboring homeowners and the city of Denison alike.
Representatives with Banks Construction were recently opposed by the Planning and Zoning Commission in a request to rezone a property in the 3900 block of West FM 120 to a commercial district. The request was met with concerns on the proper use of land in what is predominantly a residential neighborhood.
“I think this is a case of spot zoning, in my opinion,” P&Z Chair Charles Shearer said. “I am not sure we need to change that because it feels like to me we have large homes built on these tracts and we are going to plop commercial use right in the middle of their world.”
The request called for the rezoning of 2.4 acres of single-family district for commercial use. Previously, the land had been rezoned by the commission to allow for the development of two larger residential lots.
Brad Sylvester, representing Banks Construction, confirmed the property had been prepared for residential development. However, those prospects fell through and he said he did not feel comfortable continuing with the project without a buyer in mind.
While the demand for the residential lots has subsided, Sylvester said, he has received regular calls asking about commercial properties. For this property, Sylvester said he was considering building commercial buildings along the frontage, with future development of mini-warehouse units behind them.
In order to do this, the property would need to be under commercial zoning and Banks Construction would need a conditional use permit for the warehouse units. That change met some opposition from city staff, who recommended the commission approve an alternative zoning for the property. Under city regulations, the commission is allowed to approve a city recommendation as long as the zoning district is stricter than the original application.
In its opposition, staff noted commercial district zoning typically functions as a buffer between uses. Additionally, it would allow several uses that would not be desirable on a major thoroughfare. Among the recommended options were community and regional retail districts.
The city’s current and draft Future Land Use Plans designate the area along FM 120 as residential, but leave opportunities for “community-scaled” retail and service projects.
Among the area residents who spoke against the proposal was Lee Clayton, who noted that lights from a commercial development would likely affect neighboring residences.
“We are opposed to the motion, mainly because this is a major gateway,” Clayton said. “I think that if you allow any change, other than residential, I feel this is destroying the residential atmosphere as you come into town.”
Members of the commission seemed to mirror some of these concerns in their comments regarding the project. Commissioner Mary Karam said the zoning change, and development, would only benefit the applicant. If it were something that would benefit the entire area, Karam said, residents would be more inclined to support the project.
Similarly, commissioners Brett Evans and Spence Redwine voiced their opposition based on the speculative nature of the request. Evans specifically said he was opposed to the alternatives offered by city staff, noting that it should remain residential.
“To me, I do not see a reason to change it now to regional retail or whichever one they have in mind until they have a use in mind,” Evans said.
“I don’t see why you wouldn’t leave it as residential period,” Redwine said in response. “That whole Spring Creek subdivision is a well developed residential area. There isn’t a whole lot of lots like that left in Denison.”
When the request went up for a vote, the commission unanimously voted to recommend denial in a 4-0 vote, with commissioner Matt Looney recusing himself from the discussions.
The commission’s recommendation for denial will now be forwarded to the city council for a final decision at an upcoming meeting.