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Church wins ZAP approval for impervious cover variance

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 by Mark Richardson

Following a brief executive session, the Zoning and Platting Commission approved a variance last night to allow White Stone Church at 4101 North FM 620 to build with 40 percent impervious cover. The ZAP, with only six members present, voted to deny the variance two weeks ago, but reversed that vote and held the matter open in hopes of having a full commission this week.


This was church’s second attempt at getting the variance. Last December, the ZAP refused to grant an impervious cover variance based on a different part of the city code.


After calling the case, ZAP Chair Betty Baker immediately sent the commission to an executive session to discuss the legal aspects of the case with city staff. Upon returning, Commissioner Keith Jackson asked agent Ron Thrower if the owner or seller had ever been compensated for loss of right-of-way at the site. Thrower said that, to his knowledge, neither one had.


The church, which says it has about 38 members, has moved buildings onto the site, at FM 620 and Double Dome Drive. However, the project was red-tagged last fall by city inspectors, who said the project did not comply with City Code. The buildings have been idle since then. 


The church came back for a second try for the variance on April 2. They returned to the commission, having found a different portion of the Land Use Code to pursue to get the same result. Thrower told the commission that it was true they were seeking the same result that was rejected previously.


“However, we believe that it is appropriate under this portion of the City Code to pursue the increase in impervious cover,” he said.


At the April 2 hearing, property owner Jerry Hoffera, who lives across Double Dome Drive from the church, said he remains adamantly opposed to the project.

“That property is almost unbuildable,” he said. “There is no way they are going to be able to do drip irrigations for their wastewater. The ground over there is like concrete. It’s going to contaminate the water.” Hoffera did not attend last night’s ZAP meeting.


Though it was never explicitly stated in open session, it appeared that a denial by the commission would force the church to use space designated for parking. That would force its members to park in nearby neighborhood streets, something that area residents adamantly opposed.


Commission Member Jackson moved to allow the variance, and the board voted 7-1 in favor, with Baker the lone dissenting vote.

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