Kyle leaders vote to continue downtown development pace

Fostering more commercial development in downtown was the direction Kyle city leaders opted to take June 9 amid vitrol between them and downtown-area residents.

On July 2, the Kyle City Council voted 5-2 in favor of a Downtown Revitalization Plan (DRP) that was recommended nearly 10 years ago. Council members Alex Villalobs and Robert Rizo cast the dissenting votes. The council’s plan secures commercial zoning recommendations as opposed to residential zoning in an effort to expand the downtown area commercially, over time.

The DRP is part of a larger Comprehensive Plan, or a blueprint for future development, that was crafted in 2009 and cost more than $100,000. The Comprehensive Plan was the first of its kind in Kyle and is intended to last 10 years before being reconsidered. The plan is set to be updated this fall.

The DRP portion offers recommendations for downtown growth and commercial zoning for areas that are currently occupied by homes or are vacant lots. However, city leaders never voted on the DRP to put it officially into place, said Mayor Pro Tem Dex Ellison.

Updates to the comprehensive plan will include a newly assessed DRP, but the majority of city council members opted to keep the in-place version to work off of in the meantime.

“I thought this was a particular thing that we were missing out on while we were discussing downtown,” Ellison said at the meeting. “Within this downtown revitalization plan, it involves ways to involve the community. The first step is adopting the Kyle Downtown Revitalization Plan.”

Ellison said he hopes the official adoption of the plan halts any debate next time a zoning permit in downtown is on the dias.

Despite debating against the existing DRP and comprehensive plans for the better part of an hour July 9, Council Member Daphne Tenorio instead chose to approve them. Tenorio said she wanted to hold off the vote until the updated plan was delivered.

“If this is coming up again and we are going to approve the plan now,” Tenorio said. “I hope we don’t have to pay for the next one.”

Villalobos and Rizo voted against the plan because they didn’t want to see the downtown area to quickly become more commercialized. 

“It should happen organically,” Villalobos said.

Villalobos said he is concerned for the quality of life of those who own homes near areas that could house bars and restaurants in the future.

“There are two downtowns,” Tenorio said. “There is downtown commercial and downtown residential, and I feel that is where this plan fails. I do think we need to move forward on a plan, but we need to redefine where downtown is.”

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