Habitat for Humanity of Grayson County approached the Sherman Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday with plans to start two new construction projects along East Carter Street.


And, the group cleared the way for the construction of two new affordable homes in the city’s College Park neighborhood.


Since 1991, the organization has worked to build dozens of low-cost homes for families in need, with volunteers and future homeowners providing manpower.


"We love it and are excited to be here," Habitat for Humanity of Grayson County Executive Director Laurie Mealy said. "It is centrally located and just west of Austin College."


As a part of Tuesday’s meeting, the organization was requesting variances to allow for the two homesto be built on lots at 515 and 521 E. Carter.


"This is a block west of four homes that are being built on Broughton that the board approved some months ago," Grayson County Judge Bill Magers spoke in favor for the project. "This part of Carter is an unfinished, bar ditch street. ... For the most part the block is vacant."


Under the College Park Overlay District, residences must include at least 1,200 square feet of living space. However, blueprints for the site feature only 1,097 square feet of space.


P&Z Chairman Clay Mahone noted that the lots were large enough that a home large enough to meet this requirement could be built. However, representatives for Habitat for Humanity said the decision to go with a smaller home was based on cost.


"It really is an economic issue," Magers said. "It really boils down to what works for the people they work with. They have footprints that are X amount and this is the blueprint they have chosen once again due to those economic concerns."


Mealy noted that the size requirement was only an issue because of the location. If the project were to be built elsewhere there could be no minimum size. Others noted that many of the existing homes in the neighborhood are also smaller-sized.


Since 1991, the group has built 18 homes in Sherman, and all of them have been less than 1,200 square feet in space.


When the items were put to a vote, they were passed unanimously by the commission.


Despite the green light to move forward, Mealy said it could be some time before construction on the site begins.


"We just started one in Denison, so it will be some months before we are ready to start another in Sherman," she said.


The next project site will be decided by the next family who will ultimately move into the home. However, they would still need to finish budgeting classes, acquire financing and develop "sweat equity" by working at other habitat for humanity projects. she said.


These two new sites brings the total number of Habitat lots in Sherman to five. Up until 2019, Sherman lots were rare for the group. However, things began to change when the city donated a lot that had been under city ownership for decades to the group.


"Since then, it kind of just had a domino effect for us," Mealy said.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.