Developer withdraws low-income housing plans in Copperfield area

April 17, 2012 3:24:42 AM PDT
Residents in a northwest Harris County community celebrated a victory in their fight against a proposed low-income housing in their area. They were worried the planned apartments would increase crime and hurt their property values in the Copperfield area, but on Monday, they were able to convince the developer to scrap the project for now.

It was an example of the people speaking and the developer listening. Hundreds of homeowners came together at Copperfield Church to fight this proposal.

"People just don't understand that the power of the vote and democracy is the most wonderful thing in this country. If you come out in mass like this, you will get what you want," homeowner DeBra Edwards said.

"Here's a case of two hours ago, everyone was really upset and now everyone leaves with a satisfactory resolution because the developer heard the people's voice and he was a gentleman," State Sen. Dan Patrick said.

Residents of Copperfield have had a lot of concerns since learning a developer is planning on building a low- to moderate-income housing project in the 9300 block of Jackrabbit Road off Highway 6.

"We don't believe it's going to be good for the neighborhood," Anthony Cecala, president of the Copperfield Coalition, told us hours before the meeting. "I've personally had experiences with low-income housing moving into neighborhoods, and the crime rate does go up."

The developer, Stuart Shaw, told us before Monday night's meeting that the Cypress Apartment Homes at Highway 6 would resemble their previous projects. Residents of any age would be required to make under 60 percent of the area median income but all must be employed. The developer also says applicants are screened.

"If you have a felony conviction or violent crime conviction, we will not even let you fill out an application. And we check. If you don't have a job or verifiable income, we cannot lease to you," Shaw said.

Cecala said residents were also concerned about decreasing property values and that the Copperfield area itself would not benefit low-income housing residents.

"It would be better for them to be closer to the city, where they could get mass transit, where they could get social services -- not out here in the suburbs," Cecala said.

"It's inaccurate that the residents in our communities won't have cars. They, like everybody else who has a job and a life, are going to have to have a car, they will. So it's inaccurate and it's just part of the fear that people have," Shaw said.

But after listening to the crowd and meeting with Sen. Patrick, the project would have needed state approval and Shaw said they won't move forward.

"It's not, I don't think a victory for the community here. It's a victory from their point of view, but I think if they really know what we're doing, they might have a different point of view. Others have certainly had that point of view about it," Shaw said.

The developer has asked to meet with the residents to explain the kind of work they do in neighborhoods.

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