Council denies multi-family zone change and continues discussion on $3.5 million budget

Brice Harvey of Dorchester petitioned the City of Howe for a zone change at 904 Maple St from single family to multi-family in order to construct a duplex on the premises. Harvey told the council that the measurements showed the lot to be 85 feet by 125 feet which would allow him to build a 65 foot wide by a 60-foot deep structure which would allow for 1,200 to 1,500 square feet per section of the duplex.

“I’m trying to build nice rental properties in Howe, Texas. It would be my standard of construction,” said Harvey to the council.

Brice Harvey

There was a discussion at the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting on Monday night with local residents that questioned having renters that are not vested in the community.

“Rent like this would generate or take a little higher-income individual,” said Harvey. “There’s going to have to be pride there or they don’t get to stay.”

A nearby resident of the Maple location asked Harvey if he had other rental properties or if this were his first. Harvey’s response was that he had other rental houses in Howe, but not another duplex. He stated that he hadn’t had any complaints from the city on any of his properties.

“I still think it should be single-family,” said a Maple Street resident.

“Put a nice house on it,” said another neighbor. “I live by a duplex and we people that live in the duplex drive across our yard. We’ve had a lot of trouble and you cannot watch them people. I’ve had rent houses and I’ve had some really bad renters. You don’t know what they’re going to do when you’re gone.”

One resident asked a question directed at no one in particular of how a duplex would enhance property values or parking.

Mayor Jeff Stanley told the audience that the council was there to discuss the zone change and not the particulars of the structure including rent, space, and property values.

“We might as well leave it we’re not going to get to say what we want to say,” said a neighbor.

The mayor stated that 30 letters were sent to neighbors of 904 Maple Street in which five came back in favor of and 13 came back in deny the zone change.

Councilman Bill French made a motion to deny the zone change which was seconded by Sam Haigis. The motion approved unopposed.

City Council motions to deny the zoning request.

Mayor Stanley then went on to the budget item on the council agenda where he stated that the budget would gain approximately $300,000 in revenue than in the 2017-18 budget largely due to new homes in Summit Hill and Howe Estates. He stated that the city is hiring two new employees to help with the overflow workload that has been caused by the growth.

The highlight of the evening was when Mayor Stanley stated that the city was adding $400,000 to the road budget which caused City Administrator Joe Shephard to literally choke up his water. The correct amount was $40,000 as the mayor misspoke. Councilman Haigis did not miss a beat and quickly stated that he approved the slotted road budget.

“We are adding $12,000 to the park budget for repairs to Ferguson Park and we’re giving a five percent increase in pay to the employees,” Mayor Stanley stated.

The Ad Valorem tax has not been determined as of yet. The budget could see a slight increase or decrease depending on the what the tax rate comes in at.

The budget will be posted by August 1 and the first public hearing will be August 21 at the regular meeting which will also be the first tax hearing.