A request to build a new set of duplexes on Cleveland Avenue was denied bythe Sherman Planning and Zoning Commission this week amid concerns by neighboring property owners and Austin College. Residents voiced concerns that the property would not fit in what has traditionally been a historic, single-family neighborhood.


Commissioner Leigh Ann Sims was the lone abstaining vote on the matter.


Developers presented plans to build two separate duplex units at 1024 Cleveland Avenue near the southwest corner of Cleveland and Richards Street. The duplexes would be about 2,312-square feet for each building and feature three bedrooms per unit, for a total of 12 bedrooms.


The plans called for the lot, which traditionally faced Cleveland, to instead face toward Richards. Plans called for six parking spaces at the front of the homes.


Linn Cates, who spoke in opposition to the project, said the lot had previously been occupied by a historic home that was demolished ahead of the construction. Prior to demolition, Linn Cates said she tried to assist two prospective buyers in contacting the owner of the home, to no avail.


“It made us all sad — there were tears,” she said. “I am sorry, but we’ve lived here for 40 years and I care about this neighborhood.”


Cates’ husband Truett Cates said he did not feel the project would fit the neighborhood, which traditionally featured single family homes that were owned by the people who lived in them. The addition of duplexes as rental properties would go against the character of the area, he said.


Beyond historic character, Truett Cates said the duplexes would go against the college park overlay district zoning, which is limited to college structures and single family residences.


“We were very pleased when that ordinance was passed,” he said.


In order for the commission to approve the permits to allow for the development Truett Cates said developers would need to provide justification that would merit it. However, developers had not shown any reason for it, he said.


In addition to residents, Heidi Ellis, representing Austin College, spoke against the project on behalf of the college.


Nathan Gray represented the project before the commission and said he understood the concerns that were raised. He offered to work to alleviate any traffic that may be spilled out onto Cleveland from the project. It could also be possible to put the parking at the rear of the property with access from a neighboring alley, he said.