Game of Zones: City Council discusses whether to expand or limit commercial areas

Photo courtesy of Krista Callaway

The city council members voted for a commercial car wash on Pear Drive, revised the City of Huntsville, Texas’ comprehensive plan’s future land use map and discussed the development district classification of 1021 Oak Drive and 2650 11th St.

CEO of Clean Carwash Ronnie Corbin wants to build a car wash on the property of 1020 Pear Drive. The car wash would be an estimated $5.9 million project with an estimate of $35,000 in taxes per year, which will be able to hold 27 cars on the site.

Along with its capacity, the company also offers college scholarships to its employees. The scholarship can be worth up to $1,200 depending on the number of credit hours and grade point average. Corbin stated the company would be a valuable addition to the community, but some residents had pressing concerns.

“It’s tough to see a neighborhood slowly die,” Huntsville resident Steve Covington said.

Covington noted that the project would destroy the possibility of any growth in the neighborhood. He brought up the issue of affordable housing in Huntsville and how a car wash, with its noise and traffic, might decrease property values.

Traffic was another issue brought about during the meeting.

Huntsville resident Scott Horning knows the traffic concerns on 11th street and just how dangerous it can be during the busiest times of day. Though the car wash may hold 27 cars at a time, the real issue is exiting.

“It’s physically impossible,” Horning said.

The layout of the car wash would only allow for a right turn west toward College Station, Texas. In order to turn around, customers would be faced with executing an illegal left turn or turn into a neighborhood.

After further discussion, the council voted in support of Corbin in a vote of 6-3.

The revised 2040 Comprehensive Plan sparked more conversation about traffic and neighborhoods in the city. Director of Development Services Kevin Byal presented to the council a future land use map that gives a recommendation to which districts could turn commercial or residential.

Previously, residents were concerned with residential areas turning into commercial areas and losing property value. Byal states this is not the case as the plan serves as a recommendation.

Council member Daiquiri Beebe voiced an objection on the point it was not a binding resolution.

“This comprehensive plan will be referred to by the city,” Beebe said. “Whenever the staff are going to look at this comprehensive plan, they’re going to see this recommendation and they’re going to use that to decide any future changes to Huntsville. They’re going to refer back to it. So, it is going to matter.”

The council member said this was a concern for neighborhood conservation.

Byal assured the council that even though a district may change from residential to commercial, residents within that district would not have to sell or give up their property if they do not wish to do so.

The motion passed 7-2.

Another motion to change the status of lot 1021 Oak Drive and 2650 11th St. to commercial found its way into the spotlight and it sparked emotion from residents.

“One of the really neat things is to be able to drive down 11th Street where it says ‘Welcome to Huntsville,’ you see the hat house and the boot house,” Huntsville resident Astrid Lang said.

Lang has lived overseas and in other states and said it was the charm of Huntsville that pulled her back. Now one of her favorite landmarks in the town could possibly be demolished due to a retail developer.

Beebe stated concerns about neighborhoods, while council member Bert Lyle took the opposite saying there were only five homes in the lot.

“There are five fast food restaurants across the street,” Lyle said. “It’s already commercial.”

The motion did not pass at this time.

City council regular meetings are held every first and third Tuesday of every month.

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