BY Andy Sevilla.
Under subtle threat of a spot zoning suit, a late incoming petition and property owner notification problems, Kyle council members sent a proposed duplex development back to the committee that recommended its approval.
Kyle City Attorney Ken Johnson said in a telephone interview Tuesday that council decided to remand a duplex development being proposed at 400 S. Main Street back to the city’s Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission, affording the group a chance to look at the project with some new information and weigh a recommendation.
Two homeowners near the proposed development have been particularly vocal in their opposition to the project, and at last week’s council meeting the pair brought legal representation to speak out on the issue.
“This is a community within your community that is speaking out and it is saying it does not want to have change — in the term of urban infill, in the term of duplexes — which change the character of neighborhood,” San Marcos attorney David Sergi told Kyle council members. “This is a historic neighborhood, it is a very important neighborhood and the residents are mostly long-term, and I believe they really do speak with one voice on this issue.”
Paula Alvarez, who lives directly across Main Street from the proposed duplex, and her next-door neighbor — her brother Fidel Alvarez — presented council with a petition against the project from homeowners surrounding the site.
Yolanda Saucedo, one of the owners of the proposed duplex site, is requesting the property be rezoned from R1 single-family residential to R2 duplex. The Saucedo property is surrounded by R1, though the northeast cattycorner from their land is zoned Central Business District 2 (CBD2), which houses a church, and they are one block from the I-35 interstate frontage road. City staff and P&Z recommended approval.
The Alvarezes contend that any rezoning of that property would constitute spot zoning, a move that would detrimentally affect the neighborhood by potentially attracting crime, inviting unknown persons in the apparent tight-knit community and damaging the character of the neighborhood, the siblings have said.
“Spot zoning will, and maybe already has, impacted single-family residence areas in the city of Kyle,” Paula Alvarez told council. “We don’t know how many, but we feel that it’s there. If spot zoning is passed, families will see that any single lot beside their home could be rezoned.”
Saucedo, on the other hand, said she and her family are choosing to invest and build a project about which the community can be proud.
“We’re interested in building our future here, not only for ourselves, but for the growth of our city,” Saucedo said. “We’re not an out-of-state real estate company trying to come in and change our city. We’re a local family who were born and raised here and are choosing to invest in our future by investing in a city that we call home.”
Johnson, the city attorney, who doesn’t believe rezoning the property R2 could be considered spot zoning, said a notice issue also is in play.
Three property owners within 200-feet from the proposed rezoning site were not notified as required by law – déjà vu for Kyle officials who had to nix a first attempt at annexing some properties last year because of failure to properly notice entities required by law.
Johnson said a new notice is being sent out.
Kyle Planning Director Sofia Nelson – who oversaw the failed annexation effort last October, but was successful two months later in expanding the city’s boundaries after proper notice was sent out to all appropriate parties — abruptly resigned late last week. City officials have been quiet on the reasons behind her sudden departure, but her department was in charge of sending out notifications to property owners near the proposed duplex site.
City staff also will need to verify the petition the Alvarezes submitted to council at the April 15 meeting. Paula Alvarez said at the meeting that the petition had enough owner signatures to require a super majority of council to vote in the affirmative to approve rezoning.
“All we ask is that you think about it – what you are doing to the citizens of Kyle if you vote in favor. Think what you are doing to the neighborhoods in Kyle,” Paula told council, adding that potential rezoning caused her family to spend some of their savings to hire legal representation.
“We don’t want this to happen to Kyle. We don’t want this to happen to any residences in the city of Kyle,” she said.
Saucedo, who under zoning requirements, if approved, can only build one duplex with two units on the property to be built with pre-approved masonry material, said Kyle is growing and though change can be scary, good change is needed.
“We truly care about our community and we wish to take an active role in participating in the positive growth of it.”