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Council keeps Oak Hill tract residential despite owners’ objection

Monday, November 10, 2008 by Kimberly Reeves

As part of the Oak Hill neighborhood plan, the City Council last week agreed to zone a controversial Oak Hill tract along William Cannon for residential use, over the objections of the landowners who wanted to sell.

 

The 16-acre parcel was a contested case in the area’s future land use map. The land – actually a combination of nine lots on Reynolds, Beckett and Ridge Oaks roads – fronted on William Cannon Boulevard, but those once-residential lots were included in a deed-restricted large-lot residential Beckett Estates neighborhood.

 

The staff recommended single-family Rural Residential. Agent Ron Thrower argued that RR made sense 50 years ago, when the land was platted, but a six-lane roadway had come through the neighborhood in subsequent years.

 

“We’re talking Rural Residential on a six-lane major roadway,” Thrower argued. “William Cannon is the only six-lane roadway other than Ben White Boulevard that is west of Brodie Lane. We’re talking about neighborhood mixed use that’s in the areas along Williams Cannon that are existing commercial developments today.”

 

While Council Member Mike Martinez made a motion to separate out another tract along US 290 for retail use, it was Council Member Laura Morrison’s motion to support the staff and Planning Commission recommendation on the William Cannon tract. The motion was for first reading only, giving Council a chance to revisit the issue on Dec. 11. The council approved that motion unanimously, zoning the land as single-lot RR.

 

William Cannon Boulevard was projected to handle 60,000 cars per day, with Beckett having a crosswalk and signalized light, Thrower said. To be SOS compliant, the impervious cover on the property would have to be 15 percent, with a buffer between the property and the neighborhood, along with water detention ponds. Under the proposed zoning, the owners proposed personal services and possibly a small restaurant.

 

All types of commercial uses surrounded the combined land parcel, including medical offices and a day care center on the north side, along with duplexes. Thrower said the RR designation had never been proposed on a major six-lane roadway anywhere.

The neighborhoods were united in their opposition. Homeowner Laura Faulk of Beckett Estates – who delivered a petition with the signatures of 32 out of 45 homeowners in the area — explained that her neighborhood was exactly what Oak Hill residents loved about living in the area.

“We have the large lots, the country feel, the green space, the nature and the wildlife,” Faulk said. “Six of our residences are established wildlife sanctuaries, like City Hall now is, and a lot of others could be if they would apply.”

Faulk outlined who backed up the proposal to keep the area rural: staff; the Planning Commission; Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods; and the nearby West Oaks Property Owners. Speakers who opposed up-zoning suggested all the usual reason: commercial zoning would allow a height that would be an invasion of the neighborhood’s privacy; a zoning category that could set a precedent; proposals that suggested low-intensity use but with plans that suggested denser development.

Homeowner Ted Miller said his neighborhood was not anti-growth. In fact, the neighborhoods joined to support the creation of MoPac. The neighborhoods anticipated the potential impact and were on the front lines to deal with it, Miller said.

“So, we anticipated some of the issues that were going to come up,” Miller said. “And, as a neighborhood, we said we wanted to grow, but we wanted to grow in a responsible manner… For 53 years, this neighborhood has tried to plan for and adapt to a growth that we saw coming.”

Dwain Rogers of the Oak Hill Association of Neighborhoods agreed it would be easy to look at the property and say, “Well, gosh, it fronts William Cannon. That’s a big road.”

“But I think the key is that the property that’s being – or attempted to be rezoned and changed land use is within the boundaries of a 50-plus-year-old rural residential deed restricted residential neighborhood,” Rogers said. “So you’re talking about going inside the boundaries of a neighborhood and pulling out part of that existing neighborhood and declaring that commercial.”

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