Plans for a new duplex development in Sherman took a step backward last week. The Sherman Planning and Zoning Commission narrowly rejected modified plans for the new duplex developers hoped to build on McGee Street.


Previous plans for the project were inadvertently tabled by the city council last month.


Developer Seraj Ali requested approval to build a duplex at 719 E. McGee Street that would feature two, three-bedroom units. A four-three vote, led to the denial of the request.


Ali’s made a similar request in April for the site, featuring eight bedrooms total ,that was narrowly approved by commission in a three-to-two vote.


“There is more data now than we had when we first had a meeting,” Commission Chair Clay Mahone said. “I can’t speak for the whole commission, but for myself, I was concerned with traffic.”


During last week’s meeting, Ali said he had scaled down the plans to only feature three bedrooms following the concerns raised at previous meetings.


“Last time I applied for a duplex and some neighbor came forward with parking problems,” he said. “So we reduced it and hope to make this work.”


The request received no letters in opposition and one letter of support prior to the meeting.


Lavonda Jacobs spoke in opposition to the request on behalf of her mother, who lived across the street from the proposed development. She questioned why the development, which would face Maxey Street, was listed as being on McGee. Scott Shadden, director of developmental services, said the legal description is based on the narrow side of the corner lot, but it could be assigned a Maxey mailing address.


Jacobs, who has spoken previously against the project, said she was also concerned with traffic onto Maxey, as her mother backs out onto the street, and additional cars would make it difficult.


“It still feels like it is really big,” she said. “Even though this is a corner lot, it still feels like it is really big.”


Gary Simpson, who owns nearby property, mirrored these concerns stating that a duplex of that size likely would be used by multiple families. Simpson chastised the commission for approving the initial request in April.


“I can’t believe it was sent out with four bedrooms,” he said.


When it went to a vote, a motion to approve the request was defeated in a four-to-three vote with Mahone, Eric Elliott, David Downtain and Leigh Ann Sims voting against the request.


The initial request was unintentionally tabled when it went before the city council in May when a motion to approve the request failed. Mayor David Plyler requesting modified plans for the project, but no motion to officially deny the request was made before the council moved on to other matters.


This left the item by default tabled, with the possibility of it being brought back at a later point. City staff suggested this could allow the developer to submit the modified plans to the council without going before P&Z again. This would get past the requirement for a applicant to wait one year before resubmitting a failed application.


Like the council, the commission did not make a formal motion to deny the request. However, P&Z treats a failed motion to approve the same as a motion to deny, Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said.


With regard to the request currently tabled by the council, Sherman City Attorney Brandon Shelby said it would require a member of the council to take it off the table. Shelby said he was uncertain if the modified plan could be presented to the council based on the initial request, noting that the case was procedural unusual.


Do you think traffic on McGee Street could handle a new duplexes? Let local government reporter Michael Hutchins know at MHutchins@HeraldDemocrat.com.