The Rockport City Council, at its regular meeting Tuesday, Jan. 14, voted unanimously to table developer Kevin Jamison’s request to amend the terms of this Planned Unit Development (PUD) on 11.346 acres at 3086-3098 State Highway 35 Bypass and 430 McLester Rd.
The council approved the PUD in May 2018 as a mixed-use subdivision to include single-family residential housing, condominiums, and commercial parcels. Those units were to be connected to city sewer. Jamison’s primary goal was to provide much-needed affordable housing in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, but the project has been held up for various reasons.
His new plan is to develop single-family properties in the $300,000 price range, on parcels large enough to be served by septic systems.
City Planner Amanda Torres noted the Planning and Zoning Commissioner recommended approval of the amended PUD, but staff opposes the changes.
“From a zoning issue there’s not an issue,” she said. “The staff has some issues. It was affordable housing on city sewer, but now it’s regular housing on septic.”
Councilman Bob Cunningham asked, “Do we have the authority to stop development because of septic?”
Mayor Pat Rios asked Jamison why the plans were changed to septic versus connecting to city sewer.
Jamison said the city worked with him when he proposed the original PUD, but others did not.
“It was delayed too long,” he said.
“You will kill my development (if forced to connect to sewer).
“Why is this the first time I’ve heard this (staff recommending denial)?
“I would have liked a heads up.”
He said the septic systems would be aerobic.
(Note: An aerobic treatment system is a small scale sewage treatment system similar to a septic tank system, but which uses an aerobic process for digestion rather than just the anaerobic process used in septic systems.)
Seeing the obvious disappointment by Jamison, Mayor Pro-tem J.D. Villa said, “My recommendation is to table this.”
Councilwoman Barbara Gurtner said she would have loved to see the original plans carried out.
City Manager Kevin Carruth said if the city allows Jamison’s large piece of property to be septic, it will thwart the city’s ability to provide sewer in that area down the line.
“We need to grow the system on the west side of the Bypass (and if we do this we will have a harder time doing so),” said Carruth.
Villa made the motion to table Jamison’s request to amend his PUD. Cunningham seconded the motion, and a short discussion followed.
“I’m really disappointed,” said Jamison. “I would have really liked a heads up. I had a lot of wheels in motion and now I have to stop again.
“I’m not doing anything illegal.”
The council then voted 5-0 to table his request.
Mayor Pat Rios said city staff will look deeper into the issues raised and the council will readdress the matter.
Jamison said having to install a lift station for his project adds $500,000 to his project.
“If you want affordable housing, you’re going to have to invest in lift stations,” he said.