City law to control lot size could mean no towering townhomes next door

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Residents get help from city to fight redevelopment (KTRK)

When people living in a northeast Houston neighborhood found out developers were going to turn plots next door into townhomes and businesses, those residents were not pleased.

Along Sue Marie Lane, 10 towering townhomes were about to go up on one of three lots bought by developers.

Last year, Reginald Mack, who owns a lot that includes his single family home, found out about the plan at both ends of the block.

"I wanted wide open land. Areas that are tight," Mack said of his decision to live in his neighborhood. "You take a lot like this one. It's very deep. If you build townhomes, all of a sudden you have 10 people. That's the big objection. If I'm surrounded by townhomes, it's probably time for me to go."

Mack rallied his neighbors and fought back by applying for a Minimum Lot Size ordinance with the city of Houston.

The city law makes it difficult to divide up single family home lots.

Mack recalls seeing this type of redevelopment popping up elsewhere in town.

"I refer to the Midtown area as townhouse jungles, a fortress," Mack said.

City planners say the measure is a tool for property owners to utilize if they're worried about redevelopment.

However, their deed restrictions don't cover their concerns over redevelopment, and they would need the majority of the community's support.

"There is no cost for applicants other than the responsibility of placing a notification sign and sending those letter out themselves," explained Chris Andrews, of the Houston Planning Department.

"It's about the land," Mack said. "The land was the big issue for people purchasing. What they were going to do, to build 10 townhomes on one lot. If they were going to be successful, it would start a trend. It goes on and on."

Any ordinance must be approved by the city council, and it lasts for 40 years.

For more information on the ordinances, you can call City of Houston's Planning and Development Department at 832-393-6600 or visit this link.

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