P&Z denies manufactured homes 2nd request

Staff Writer
Herald Democrat
James Bertakis speaks during a meeting of the Sherman Planning and Zoning Commission regarding a proposed 85-lot manufactured home development. The project was denied by the commission following concerns by residents and neighboring property owners.

For the second time in less than a year, the Sherman Planning and Zoning Commission has denied plans related to a proposed manufactured home development amid concerns from neighboring property owners.

During a more than three-hour meeting, the Sherman P&Z Commission voted to deny a request by Bertakis Development related to an 85-lot manufactured home development in the 2300 through 2600 blocks of Grayson Drive. This six-to-one vote marks the second time that Bertakis has been denied by the commission for a manufactured home development following a similar vote in February.

“We are excited to be a part of Sherman and to help keep people in Sherman and help fill a niche for affordable housing that is not served in Sherman and the greater DFW as a whole,” developer James Bertakis said Tuesday.

The discussions on the development proved to be among the longest in recent history for P&Z as it dedicated more than two hours to comments from Bertakis, supporters for the project, and concerned neighbors.

“Tme amount of time we’ve given this item is unprecedented in the time I’ve been on this board,” P&Z Chairman Clay Mahone said.

During Tuesday’s meeting Bertaki sought a specific use permit that would allow him to develop a land-leased manufactured home community. The developers would retain the land rights on the site and lease them out for tenants.

The manufactured homes that would be placed in the development would be owned by the tenant.

Bertakis said the development of the project would fill a need across North Texas for affordable housing that has only grown as housing prices have increased in recent years. New housing options start at the $200,000 for the region, which puts some prospective home owners out of the market, he said.

By comparison, he said the manufactured homes development would start in the $80,000 to $160,000 range.

“We have different perspectives on things, but I wouldn’t be standing here today, and I wouldn’t be talking if I didn’t think this was a need of our community and a reasonable way of addressing the needs of our community,” Realtor Janet Karam said, while speaking in favor of the project.

The most recent request represents a scaled-back version of a 400-lot development that Bertakis proposed earlier this year. The previous proposal, which included a full rezoning included the 20 acres of land included in the most recent proposal and an additional 74 acres of land adjacent to the site.

This reduced the scope of the project by about 80 percent, Bertakis said. In doing so, developers worked to reduce some of the concerns raised during the previous meeting, including traffic.

Following the first denial, Bertakis initially moved to appeal the motion, but ultimately withdrew his appeal, would have required the council to find a new venue due to expected crowds and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reason we did it is ... we never want to be combative or controversial — we want to be cooperative,“ he said. ”Based on what we heard, we wanted to retool it into something that was more acceptable.“

The commission received more than 20 letters regarding the most recent proposal and a petition with more than 100 names on it in opposition.

During the meeting several people spoke in opposition to the project with concerns ranging from the effect on property values to ongoing worries about traffic, in an area that has limited access due to train crossings.

Sherry Sipe was one of the residents who spoke out during both meetings regarding her concerns. Prior to the February meeting, Sipe organized a meeting in her own home to talk to neighbors about the project.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Sipe said she had done some research and was concerns about long-term financing on the project. She said she found some financing options that would not be on the table as they would require the tenant to own the land itself. Instead, she worried that the tenant would need to rely on a personal financing loan, which would have a higher interest rate.

David Cortinas also spoke in opposition, stating that the promise of affordable housing may not be what it seems at first glance.

“Ladies and gentlemen, $1,500 a month does not include insurance, does not include utilities, does not include maintenance and does not include emergencies,” he said. “Some time people get a vision of the American dream that doesn’t fit in the budget.”

Cortinas worried that people would move into the development and become unable to sustain the cost.

“They will be lower than they were before,” he said.

During the meeting, Bertakis noted repeatedly that he does not wish to own the homes that would be in the development. However, residents would be able to sell them.

This sparked some questions by the commission on the market for used homes and the long-term equity in them.

“Right now, people are looking at manufactured homes or to put a manufactured home on a lot,” he said.

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