Amid concerns from neighboring property owners, the Sherman Planning and Zoning Commission denied requested plans for a new, 300-unit apartment complex along Lamar Street Monday night. The denial came as multiple property owners voiced concerns over safety and traffic related to the proposed development.
In addition to the citizen comments, members of the commission voiced concerns over the effects it would have on existing neighborhoods accessing and adequate parking.
The applicants sought approval on preliminary plans for an affordable housing apartment complex, which would be situated on nearly 13 acres of land on Lamar Street between Bethany Road and Colbert Street. The complex would have been located just west of Goodwill Industries and near the current Sherman High School.
Chris Biggars, representing Dunaway Associates, said the site would be a perfect fit for apartments due to the proximity to the school and nearby Crutchfield Elementary.
The apartment complex would feature a mixture of one, two, three and four bedroom units with a total of 720 bedrooms. About 48 units would be one bedroom, while 36 would have seen four bedrooms. Despite the high number of bedrooms, the developers asked for an exception that would allow them to reduce the required number of parking spaces from 784 to 627.
Newly-appointed commissioner Sean Vanderveer questioned why there would be so few spaces when one or two vehicles are common place even in single-bedroom units. Jake Brown, representing LDG Development, said the apartment complex would cater to low-income households and very few would own two vehicles, and in some cases, no vehicles.
With the complex aimed at families, Biggars said developers wanted to have ample green space so that children would have room to have space spaces to play. If additional parking was added, it would have to come at the cost of green space, the developers said.
Despite the stigma that can come with affordable housing, Brown said that there would be strict guidelines on who could live in the complex and that all applicants would need a full-time job. Felons would also be denied rental in the complex, he added.
“I know multi-family gets a bad rap, but we are high-class developers with a high-class reputation,” he said.
Commissioners asked if it would be possible to reduce the size of the project and still have viability. By removing one building, it would reduce the complex to about 276 units, but the project would no longer be viable, Brown said.
“That may not seem like a big drop, but that is make-or-break for us,” he said.
Among the residents who were opposed to the project was Mary Hendrickson, who presented the commission with a petition featuring nearly 200 names of people opposed to the project. Among her complaints, Hendrickson said it seemed that the developers did not have definitive plans for water, sewer and other infrastructure improvements.
P&Z Chairman Clay Mahone said the plans being presented were preliminary and a starting point for conversations with city staff on those aspects of development.
Other concerns raised included concerns that only two gates would not provide enough access for the site. Others were concerned that the extra traffic would cause congestion along Lamar Street. With Sherman High School poised to transition into a middle school next year, other argued that the site may soon see additional foot traffic, leading to safety concerns.
When a motion to deny the request was motioned by Vanderveer, all members of the commission supported the denial.