College Station City Council voted 6-1 Monday evening to deny a request to change the land use status of 2.7 acres at 1700 George Bush Drive.
The University Terrace Apartments complex is currently on land designated as Natural Areas Reserved, which is meant for relatively underdeveloped land and intended to conserve natural areas. The property owner requested that the land use be changed to represent that it is an area with a multifamily development on the property. While the proposed change would have put the land use in compliance with the existing zoning, everyone except for Councilwoman Elianor Vessali voted to deny it because of its potential to open doors for future commercialization.
Director of Planning and Development Services Jennifer Prochazka said the request to change the land use at 1700 George Bush Drive would not give the property owner the right to develop commercial property, but changing the land use is typically the first step for rezoning that could allow commercialization. However, Prochazka said the property owner did not have plans for a rezoning request.
Vessali stressed that even if the land use is changed, the property may not develop into a commercial area, a concern expressed by other councilmembers. She said that the council should embrace commercialization in an area that is so close to Texas A&M University since it could add value to the neighborhood and benefit future community members.
“The new generation wants multi-use areas,” Vessali said. “They want to be able to walk to their local store, coffee shop, barber shop, dry cleaner. ... That is what these generations want. ... We are limiting the ability to do something with this property.”
While he said he understands that denying the request makes it difficult to find financing for any updates, Councilman John Nichols said he voted to deny because there was too much of a chance for the area to have a substantial commercial component in the future. Councilman Dennis Maloney expressed similar sentiments because he was concerned about major commercialization across the street from a single family housing neighborhood.
“Everyone that runs for office always talks about neighborhood integrity,” Maloney said. “Well, this is it. This is where the rubber hits the road. If you want to be known as a person who thinks that people who invested in their homes are just as valuable as those who invested in businesses, then you have to vote to deny this.”
To view presentations and for more on the meeting, visit blog.cstx.gov.