A request to build a duplex narrowly passed through the Sherman Planning & Zoning Commission last week following objections by neighboring property owners over noise, parking and who would live there.
The request was ultimately approved in a three-to-two vote following a failed motion to deny it and will now move forward to the City Council for final approval. In the approval, members of the commission noted the project met all city requirements.
“As it is, if it didn't have a wall down the middle, and it was a single family home, it complies,” commission Chair Clay Mahone said. “All he is asking is to allow it to be (a) two-family home.”
Developer Seraj Ali approached the commission to request a specific use permit in order to build a new two-family duplex at 719 E. McGee Street. Despite the McGee address, Ali said the building would face onto Maxey Street. The request included no exceptions and only asked for the specific use permit.
Ali said there were no other duplexes in the immediate area surrounding the site, but city staff clarified that there are some in the extended neighborhood.
The request received one response letter from a neighboring property owner in favor of the duplex. Lavonda Jacobs spoke before the commission representing her mother, Juanita Jacobs, who has lived across the street from the proposed duplex for decades. Lavonda Jacobs said she was concerned about the impact that a duplex would have on the neighborhood, and its long-term residents.
“There are elderly and middle-aged people living in that neighborhood,” Lavonda Jacobs said. “They live pretty quietly and we want to keep it that way.”
Lavonda Jacobs asked Ali to take the demographics of the neighborhood into consideration when deciding who would live in the home.
For his part, Ali noted that he is simply building the home and isn't involved with deciding who will ultimately call it home.
Other concerns raised by Lavonda Jacobs included parking for the duplex and the impact any street parking might have on traffic in the area. Mahone noted the designs for the site feature four parking spaces for each of the units.
Following the meeting, Juanita Jacobs expressed concerns about the viability of the site for a duplex. The lot itself is narrow and, even while facing Maxey, it will likely have short setbacks, she said Monday.
Following a brief discussion on the request, a motion of denial was made with commission members David Downtain and Leigh Ann Sims voting in favor of the denial. Mahone, Shawn Davis and Paul Manley voted against the motion, resulting in its failure.
After a brief discussion on how the vote would impact the future of the request, a second motion was made to approve the request, with the motion passing on identical lines.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at email@example.com or @mhutchinsHD on Twitter.