Developers for a new 400-lot manufactured home community are stepping back from current plans to build in Sherman.
Representatives for Bertakis Development said this week that they have rescinded an appeal to a Sherman Planning and Zoning Commission denial for the project, citing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, among other causes.
“We still didn’t have an appeal meeting set up because it kept getting pushed back,” developer James Bertakis said Friday. “There were some other factors that led to it, and we want to work with the residents and the city. We don’t want to be an opposing force.”
In February, Bertakis presented plans for a new manufactured home complex that would be built on nearly 90 acres of land from the 2400 through 2800 blocks of U.S. Highway 82 between Frisco Board and Baker Road.
Throughout the process, Bertakis disputed comparisons to a trailer park, noting that the manufactured homes would be modern construction and a far cry from the dilapidated stereotype that comes with trailer parks.
Instead, Bertakis argued that the homes would cater a marker that is under represented in the Texoma housing market.
With recent growth an interest in Texoma, Bertakis said it has become difficult for builders to construct homes in a price range under $160,000. Likewise, the market for existing properties in that price range have similarly been few and far between.
Under the proposed development, tenants would own the manufactured homes but rent the land that they occupy. With all monthly fees, Bertakis estimated that this would cost about $1,200 a month.
“We still feel there is a niche for it once the clouds clear from COVID(-19),” Bertakis said Friday.
The P&Z request received significant opposition from neighboring property owners, including a petition with nearly 100 signatures of people opposed to the project.
Concerns ranged from the impact it would have on neighboring neighborhoods, crime, utility usage and traffic issues. A recurring topic was a nearby train crossing which residents said regularly causes delays even with the current housing density.
“We feel Sherman is an except market and location, but there were a couple issues that were raised — a couple were unfounded — and the planning commission sided with the people and that’s where we are at,” Bertakis said.
The appeal did pose a logistical problem for the city of Sherman during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. During the initial P&Z case, dozens of people crowded the council chambers for their opportunity to speak on the topic.
However, since then, social distancing, and other state restrictions on public gatherings, would make the hearing difficult for city officials.
Initially, the city was slated to hear the appeal in early April, but this meeting was canceled by the city as a precaution. At the time, city officials said there were considering the option of holding a teleconference where residents would call in to discuss the topic.
As recently as this week, city officials had planned to hold the appeal in the Kidd-Key Auditorium in mid-May as the venue would allow more space, and some gathering restrictions have since lapsed.
Despite stepping away from this location, Bertakis said he is still very interested in the Sherman market, but would not comment on if another location has presented itself.
“It is a market we like and we are looking for other opportunities,” he said.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at email@example.com.