High rise opponents not giving up

August 24, 2009 4:45:18 PM PDT
The controversial Ashby high rise project near the Museum District is taking another step forward and people in the area where it's planned are looking at what they can do to stop it. Developers have a new set of plans for the project planned at Bissonnet and Ashby.

By now, those yellow and black signs have become permanent lawn ornaments in the upscale neighborhood that surround the corner of Ashby and Bissonnet

"It's a nice little residential neighborhood," said homeowner Ron Sawyers. "It's like a small town in the city."

Ron and Dana Sawyer are among the many homeowners who want to stop the project. Their biggest worry is an increase in traffic and a decrease in their quality of life.

"Fire departments being close by and having easy access to the house and to the area and to ambulances," said Dana.

In the past two years, there have been protests, petitions, and 10 times, the city rejected the developers' building permit application. But with no height regulations in place and developers threatening a lawsuit, everything changed last Friday just before 5pm.

"We are not a zoned city," said Houston City Councilmember Anne Clutterbuck. "We have limited rules on development."

The city approved the 11th plan submitted by developers, which eliminated a spa and executive offices, therefore reducing the amount of anticipated traffic. But neighbors are still upset because the building is remains 23 stories high, and leaders of the Anti-Ashby Coalition are not giving up.

"The signs won't come down. We'll keep opposing this," said Chris Amandes with the Anti-Ashby High-Rise Coalition. "We've got some options at our disposal that we can pull out at the appropriate time, potential litigation and so on."

By approving the developer's plans, the city may have avoided a lawsuit from those developers. But now, the developers could face some sort of a lawsuit down the road from homeowners. The developers say they haven't heard anything from the city and they're not prepared to comment.

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