More than 70 residents of Fulton attended an open public hearing portion of a Fulton Town Council meeting Monday, Feb. 17 to voice their concerns about a request by Christopher and Karra Crowley for a rezoning permit from R1 (single family) to R2/R3 (residential/multi-family) for property located at 1731 Lone Star Rd. in Fulton.
With the Planning and Zoning Committee of Fulton also in attendance, Fulton residents vehemently opposed the request for rezoning in a hearing that lasted nearly an hour and 30 minutes.
The request, if approved, would allow for the $250,000 sale of the Crowley’s property to Casa Tierra SA-1, Incorporated.
Casa Tierra is proposing to build a 40-unit residential apartment complex called Oyster Bay at Fulton Apartments using funds from the Texas General Land Office (GLO).
On Sept. 21, 2018, Casa Tierra submitted an application for funding through the Texas GLO for the purpose of constructing an affordable housing multifamily residential complex. Believing the application had fallen through after a years-long wait, the Texas GLO contacted Casa Tierra in December 2019 and told them the application had been approved for the particular site at 1731 Lone Star Rd.
Details for how much funding the Texas GLO will provide for the complex is undisclosed until Casa Tierra can purchase the property.
(Note: The General Land Office announced Feb. 4 it was fully funding 14 multifamily developments for reconstruction or new construction, rebuilding an additional 1,363 affordable rental units for families across Hurricane Harvey-affected areas. Two of those multifamily awards were for two Aransas County projects, which will add 120 units at a cost of $12.615 million. The Rockport Pilot did not publish the GLO press release because the funded projects were not named. GLO Director of Communication Brittany Eck said the GLO cannot announce what the two projects are until the contracts are fully executed. This is due to provisions in HB 3175, which was approved during the last legislative session. There was no supporting documentation at Monday’s public hearing that definitively showed this project is one of the two funded by the GLO. The GLO will use $135,231,628 for the Multifamily Affordable Rental Program from unspent Partial Repair and Essential Power for Sheltering (PREPS) Program as well as unused or declined funds from the buyouts/acquisitions and infrastructure programs. Together with $23 million in remaining funds from the original allocation of more than $450 million, the new funding allows for the 14 multifamily housing applications.)
Casa Tierra SA-1, Incorporated President Mark Temple opened the public hearing and addressed the background of the Texas GLO application to build affordable housing and the details of the new complex.
Temple said the project is estimated to cost just shy of $7 million.
He added that the housing complex would be built for the working class family/individual, non-subsidized. The units will range in cost from $700-$725 for one bedroom, $875-$900 for two bedrooms, and $810-$1075 for three bedrooms.
“Those rents are tailored towards school teachers, city workers, retail, anyone of that nature,” said Temple.
The proposed builder for the complex is Olympia Construction. Olympia Construction Project Manager John Mangus spoke after Temple and said the new complex will have a positive impact on the community by providing more local jobs and increased property values.
“If we put $7 million in that neighborhood, it can’t help but bring your (nearby residents) property values up because these will be, truly, very nice when we get finished,” said Mangus. “They (Casa Tierra) picked that (area) because there was already four R.V. parks, or trailer parks, in that area. It’s not like there were only single family (lots).”
RE/MAX Security Real Estate Associate Karen Mella echoed Mangus’ sentiments, in that the project will provide a positive prospect for the city of Fulton.
“Putting a $7 million project in Fulton is not only going to help that area, but bring in more tax dollars that go directly to you in services and citizens of Fulton,” said Mella. “We’re not here to disrupt or cause issues with your (nearby residents) lifestyle, but we hope this will bring a betterment and add to not only in that area but in the town of Fulton, with tax dollars.”
Following Mella’s comments, Fulton Mayor Jimmy Kendrick allowed for the public and residents of Fulton to speak in agreement or opposition of the proposed rezoning.
Of the more than 70 residents in attendance, not one individual spoke in agreement, nor publicly agreed, of the rezoning.
More than 20 individuals spoke in opposition to the rezoning request.
Individuals that spoke focused on increased traffic on a substandard road, drainage issues, environmental impacts, additional noise and lighting, added crime, and the end of a quiet neighborhood setting as reasons against the rezoning.
A sampling of the comments and some of the questions presented are as follows:
“I’ve lived here for almost 45 years in Fulton. The property that’s being built is right next to me,” said Huan Ngo. “All my life I go out there for peace and quiet. This thing won’t take 40 houses out there. It’s a dead-end street. Government for the people, by the people; look at all these people here.”
“What we’re saying is, as neighbors, the street is not wide enough, its not big enough, there’s not enough leeway on the sides to even widen the road to be big enough to facilitate the amount of additional people going up and down this road,” said Shelley Steckler. “We moved out there to be in the country and not have this influx of population. Is there going to be sidewalks? I just can’t imagine that, for one mile, you’re going to put in sidewalks, widen the street, and the sewer, and the water, and the drainage, to accommodate one complex.”
“I’m going to look out my window and I’m going to see pavement, I’m going to see a two-story building, and I’m also going to see the dumpster according to the development plan 50 feet from my fence line,” said Liz Raasch. “What can you do so that I don’t lose property value?”
“If money speaks louder than we are and this goes through, there is one thing I’m going to fight tooth and nail for, and that’s that we have more speed limit signs and another police officer or two hired,” said Ron Gilbert. “They run down past my place at 50-60 MPH and that’s got to come to a stop.”
“My dad bought the land at 1509 Lone Star almost 50 years ago with one idea in mind; for he to retire on it, and then pass it on to me to retire on it; on a dead end street, with four large curves in it, so that all of this (project), would not happen,” said Dana Mercer. “I got to say I came to this meeting not expecting to be prejudiced against a potential low-cost housing, but it sounds like you guys (Fulton Council) are a little bit prejudice about the fact that there are trailers out there. You decided to put a huge complex on a road that you assumed was a lot of low-cost housing being out there. I don’t think that’s fair.”
“I didn’t put all my life’s time and earnings into this property to be across the street from apartment buildings with multiple people on a little tiny road with dead ends with no lighting,” said Dan Pike. “I’m strictly against it. I want to stay here the rest of my days. I don’t want to have to be listening to sirens at night.”
“I am concerned about the trees. I’m wondering if there has been a tree study done before we go leveling five acres of trees,” said Michelle Lewis. “I also have a wildlife concern. What are we going to do with the wildlife? The Clean Water Act say’s that we will have zero net loss of our wetlands. That is a wetland area. You have to have permits filed with the Army core of engineers.”
“It’s hard for me to understand after all the good you guys (Fulton Council) did for the people of Fulton after Harvey, that you guys are intentionally trying to do this (project)”, said Suna Lavalla. “We are all concerned with the increase of people, with that there’s going to be an increase of vandalism and theft.”
“From what I’ve heard from most of us here, we’re not opposed to this development, but we’re opposed to where you’re putting it. You’re asking us to change our lifestyles for this development that doesn’t have to go on this street,” said Janice Adams. “I’m not going to be able to sit out in my front yard, peacefully, there’s going to be more traffic going by. That’s the whole point, this is the kind of neighborhood we wanted and you’re taking that away from us for no reason because you can put this (project) someplace else.”
Whether the project moves forward or not, Mayor Kendrick assured the audience in attendance that Fulton had been approved by the Texas General Land Office to receive more than $4 million to address roads in Fulton. Lone Star Road is one of the roads selected to be completely rebuilt. It is not related to the apartment complex project.
After the meeting, Temple said he and his team took a lot of notes and are going to look into many of the issues brought up by Fulton residents and see if those issues can be resolved.
“We’re going to see what we can do to resolve some of those issues that were addressed by the people,” said Temple. “We want to be a part of the community. We don’t want to be making everyone mad. We really respect those concerns that they have.”
Temple and his team will be at the Fulton Planning and Zoning Committee meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25 to further discuss this project and have more answers to the concerns brought up by Fulton residents. The meeting will be held at the Fulton Volunteer Fire Department, 401 Googles Cole Blvd.