High-rise project fight hits a snag

HOUSTON The city council decided to halt plans for an ordinance regulating high-rise developments, hoping for a compromise in this case.

Developers want to build the high-rise on Bissonnet at Ashby.

After several protests, a lot of neighborhood meetings and various drafts by city council, the high density development ordinance officially went nowhere. The proposed ordinance was pulled down and that's not making neighbors happy.

In a neighborhood where anti hi-rise signs still sprout up like dandelions, today's vote to table the city's high density development ordinance just got homeowners even more worked up.

"It's a worst possible case scenario, and it could happen in the Heights and it could happen in Garden Oaks, and it could happen in other parts of the city," said frustrated homeowner Erika Roberts.

Erika Roberts and others who live near the proposed high-rise site have spent months organizing a full out assault against the proposed 23 story development. When residents got the city to quickly develop a high density ordinance, their problems were supposed to be solved, but the ordinance drew criticism from other parts of the city. The mayor admitted existing laws may already be tough enough.

"We concluded we can use existing ordinance authority," said Mayor Bill White of Houston. "I guess if everybody knew everything they know at the end of the day, we probably all make smarter decisions."

The city says the developers and the neighbors are still in negotiations over what to do. That means after months of controversy, there is still no solution just yet.

"I am thankful that they are at the table and meeting with community members and continuing to meet with other options that decrease the density," said Houston City Council member Anne Clutterbuck.

The city of Houston is working on a broader, more comprehensive high density development ordinance. That process could take several months. In the meantime, negotiations between Ashby developers and the neighbors continue.

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