Last week Sherman Planning and Zoning Commissioners shot down plans for a new affordable residential development in a six-to-one vote amid an outcry from neighboring property owners. While, I respect the commission for taking on the contentious issue, I can’t help but feel this was a myopic choice that misses the big picture: the region needs homes at all price points.
Last week, representatives with Bertakis Development presented plans for the Eastwood Residential Community — a 400-lot manufactured home community. The development would be located along U.S. Highway 82 between Frisco Road and Baker Road.
Plans for the development included 60-foot by 100-foot lots, a clubhouse, a swimming pool, community office and exercise room, among other amenities across nearly 95 acres of land. The development would feature modern manufactured homes that are occupant-owned, while the lots and the property itself would be owned and managed by the development company.
Prices for the homes ranged from between $65,000 to about $140,000. When including all fees, developers estimated that monthly fees would range from between $900 to $1,400.
In the time that I have lived in Texoma, I have seen the growth coming. It is no secret that home developers, new businesses and other prospects are taking interest in the region. However, with that growth comes an increase in demand, and prices for homes have reflected it.
I can still remember one of the first stories I wrote about the growth, while looking at the housing market around 2016. I can still remember my surprise when I had Realtors telling me that home prices had risen more than 11 percent. At the same time, it is becoming more difficult for developers to build at a price point that is affordable for lower incomes or some working-class salaries, especially on a large scale.
In short, people are being priced out of the market. Not everyone can afford a $250,000 home. This development could be a solution to that.
There have been efforts by both Sherman and Denison to create affordable housing, but they have been limited in scope, and in the case of Denison, have been so successful that they are no longer feasible.
About five years ago, Denison started its affordable housing program to incentivize the development of infill lots as affordable homes, with a price point of under $120,000. After years of success, city officials said the city’s supply of lots ready for development has mostly depleted, and developers now say that the market price no longer supports the program’s goals.
Meanwhile, Sherman has recently started donating lots for development to Habitat for Humanity. While I applaud the choice, it is still a small-scale effort. We need something larger.
Neighboring property owners spoke out against the development, with many describing it as a trailer park. The pictures and images that I saw were far from what come to mind any time I think about the stereotypical trailer park. In some cases, I couldn’t tell that it was a manufactured home.
Others argued that the development would bring the possibility of drugs or crime to otherwise peaceful neighborhoods. Meanwhile another argued that the sewer line in the development was not sufficient as people in low income homes use the sewer line as a trash can.
In truth, I see this being more a working class neighborhood and stereotyping poor people as drug addicts and criminals is a cheap shot.
Other concerns were with regard to traffic, especially along a railroad crossing. This is a legitimate concern, and I don’t have a direct answer to it.
Many of the arguments felt like the quintessential NIMBY argument — we need this, but not in my backyard. If not here, where? I am still waiting for the answer to this question.