Residents near White Oak Bayou fighting developer's plan for 84-unit condo

October 10, 2012 4:27:52 PM PDT
It's the first step in a developer's plan to bring a multi-unit complex to the area. But homeowners say their community can't support that kind of traffic.

Fifth Street currently dead ends, but a developer is asking the city of Houston to allow it to extend the street so the company can develop the land behind it. But some neighbors don't think it's a good idea.

In the midst of an urban oasis, there is anger.

"This is just a disgrace. I mean, we can't have this happening," homeowner Ellen Newcaster said.

Newcaster and her neighbors along Fifth Street are fighting against a proposed variance that would allow a private developer extend their street and then build 84 condo units on a parcel of land that adjoins White Oak Bayou. Some homeowners say Fifth Street is already narrow, and a private road would be unsafe.

"Where is the fire truck going to go? Where's the ambulance going to go? They're coming here with one point of access, not two; it's not terribly really safe," homeowner Taylor Moore said.

We visited the office of LSR Management, the developer of the land, but no one was available to talk to us at their office. However, we did eventually chat by phone with a manager, who said they believe the variance should be granted so the company can safely develop their land.

Councilwoman Ellen Cohen disagrees.

"Fifth Street is very narrow and there is issues around -- flooding and things this would exacerbate -- and uh they're opposed to it and I'm writing a letter opposing the granting of the variance," Cohen said.

This isn't the first time the neighbors had to fight the developers. This was tried from the hike-and-bike side of the property a few years ago. That development didn't pan out and the neighbors say they're ready to fight again.

"You think it wears down the neighbors but I think it energizes the neighbors," Moore said.

The planning commission is scheduled to discuss the proposed variance Thursday afternoon, and the neighbors say they'll be there to make their concerns public.

"I'm hoping they grant no variances and just leave us alone," Newcaster said.

The city of Houston's planning commission has decided to delay Thursday's vote on the variance for two weeks so it can study the situation further.


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