East side residents speak out against proposed low-income facility

March 27, 2013 3:02:36 AM PDT
There's a fight over the development of a low-income apartment complex in east Houston. Several people showed up at Tuesday's Houston City Council meeting, trying to stop the proposed development.

The Hurstbourne Crossing complex would be built on Oates Road off the East Freeway.

Residents of the Songwood neighborhood say their community is not built to handle an apartment complex, and on Tuesday, they let Houston City Council members know it.

About 12 wooded acres in east Houston have become a battleground between a developer and nearby residents of Songwood. Homeowners even took their fight to City Hall Tuesday.

Songwood sits near the corner of the East Freeway and 610. Now a developer is seeking approval to build Class A apartments for low- to moderate-income families with an annual income of about $27,000-$45,000.

"I'm concerned for our property values and our crime rate, because we are a low crime, quaint neighborhood. We want to keep it that way,"Songwood resident Debbie Wilson said.

The property is listed as off Oats Road, a small two-lane road that residents say is not designed for heavy traffic.

"Our neighborhood was not built to sustain the traffic flow that a full-fledged apartment complex would cause," Songwood resident Monica Schmidt said.

Justin Hartz of LDG Development LLC. says low- to moderate-income housing is needed in Houston, and concerns of nearby homeowners have been addressed in the site plan.

"Some of the concerns they have raised included drainage issues, and the potential traffic impact on their neighborhoods. As a result of this, we have made modifications to our site plan to provide for on-site retention of storm water, and have designed the development such that access to our property would be restricted to entrance and exit from Interstate 10," Hartz said.

However, it appears the apartment complex lacks support not only from neighbors, but also the district's representative, Councilman James Rodriguez.

"It's not a project that will add any value to the neighborhood. We have about 18 or so affordable housing projects around that area, so we are pretty much saturated," Rodriguez said.

The project still needs approval from city council, which is scheduled to vote on the project Wednesday morning.
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