HEATH- A proposed change in city zoning that would allow a new townhouse complex to be built here was stalled by residents’ opposition at the April 13 Heath Planning and Zoning Commission

Developer Rob Whittle had requested that the commission approve two zoning changes to change the land from agriculture to be zoned as townhouses in Cobblestone Farms. The development is on 25.82 acres east of Farm-to-Market Road 549 and north of Horizon Road.

Whittle withdrew his request due to opposition from residents about townhouses being built in the plan. Three residents openly opposed the plan and spoke during a public hearing held about the plan. Their objections ranged from density control to the adverse effect on the school system.

Commissioner Patricia Kirwan also reported that her phone had not stopped ringing as soon as this announcement hit the Internet. Several commissioners took the position that they didn’t feel that they presently had enough information to confidently approve the request.

Whittle said he expected to hear some opposition to the zoning change request.

“I knew this would meet with some opposition,” said Whittle. “The word ‘townhouse’ sends shivers down people’s spines. This is a section that will be bordered on one side by beautiful trees; trees that I protected in my plat. On one side it will be bordered by million dollar homes, that I’m building.

“On the other side they will be bordered by the retail. Nobody is ever even going to see these except the people living in my development,” Whittle said.

The commission unanimously approved a request to change the zoning from agricultural to a planned development for phase two of Cobblestone Farms.

Whittle said the groundwork has been laid and homes in the development would cost between $450,000 to $850,000.

“This zoning request is completely in line with what I represented originally back when it was in the (extra-territorial jurisdiction),” Whittle said.

He also noted the deed restrictions would be identical to those for the existing Horizon Court development.

Bob Bevan, who owns property adjacent to the proposed development questioned the restrictions for the new development. He raised concerns about the type of businesses that would be allowed.

City Engineer and Director of Public Works Pedam Farahnak expressed his desire to have site review for each structure. This met resistance from Whittle.

“We’ve either got a good set of restrictions or we don’t,” Whittle said. “When the builder pulls out the city’s spec sheet there’s a height requirement already in the ordinance. If we have to go through this process for every building, it’s just silly.

“When someone wants to build in my development they’re given the city’s restrictions and told ‘you must comply.’ We also have even more stringent deed restrictions, ‘you must also comply.’

“If you make it so burdensome people are going to say, ‘Well, we may as well go toward I-30 (Interstate 30). People are worried about retail space bordering residential property but every retail area in this city borders residential property in some way.

“These spaces are going to border the lots we own, and the last thing we’d want to do is to hurt our own real estate. Part of the goal of this is to diversify our economy and take some of the tax burden of the residents,” Whittle said.

The commission shared concerns that had been raised to them by telephone from residents. Commissioner Bill Satterwhite added that with these new developments the commission had to look at the precedent set for future requests.

In the end, Whittle agreed to not allow restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, dry cleaners, drug stores, and day care centers to be built in the development. He then asked Bevan if his concerns had been addressed. Bevan replied, “If it looks like Horizon Court, that’s reasonable.”

Whittle withdrew his request for a zoning change to allow for townhouses to be built in Cobblestone Farms after opposition from residents. He said he plans to bring the request back to the commission.

In other actions, the commission approved an extension of the final plats for phase 10 and 11 and size of lots for Buffalo Creek Country Club Estates. Phase 10 will have 16 lots on 8.66 acres and phase 11 will have 13 lots on 6.82 acres.

The commission also unanimously approved the preliminary plat for the Equestrian at Buffalo Creek in phase one. The plat includes 17 lots to be built on 47 acres. The plat includes a lake and open space.

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