Killeen officials said they have reached a suitable agreement with a developer who wanted to circumvent the city’s architectural and design standards in the construction of hundreds of homes along South Fort Hood Street.
“The applicant originally requested to have minor setback requirements for approximately 386 lots in two zoning districts,” Ed Revell, the city’s executive director of development services, told council members Tuesday. “What the developer has done is reduce the number of lots for which they are requesting setbacks from 386 to 246 lots and the number of zoning districts from two to one.”
On Aug. 23, council members told JOF Developers — owned by Gary Purser Jr. – that they would not negotiate with that company or others to circumvent the new architectural and design standards adopted in May. They ultimately tabled a decision on the developer’s request to reduce setback lines for the types of homes it planned to build in the planned unit development to give staff, Killeen Engineering and Surveying and JOF Developers time to discuss their options.
‘Made sufficient effort’
“Really, it’s in response to what was said at that meeting — that the developer and staff are having more conversations,” Revell said earlier this week. “The applicant has made sufficient efforts to accommodate all of the requirements that staff had. We believe this is consistent with the comprehensive plan and therefore recommend approval of the PUD amendment as presented by the applicant.”
In its request, the city council considered on Aug. 23, the developer wanted the front yard setback reduced from 25 feet to 20 feet, the side yard setback reduced from 7 feet to 5 feet and the rear setback reduced from 4 p.m. 25 feet by 20 feet.
What followed in the weeks after the meeting was “a compromise” on reductions.
“They are not requesting to change the front yard setback,” Revell said. “However, they are still requesting to change the side yard from 7 to 5 feet and the rear yard from 25 feet to 20 feet. The developer has agreed to maintain the landscape requirements as well as add more architectural requirements.”
The new architectural requirements include repeat standard, garage standard, improved windows, architectural details, variable roof design and at least three of the following: sunken garage, vertical articulation, covered porch, variable exterior finish materials or improved garage doors.
“I want to thank the council for advising staff to work with us on this project,” Michelle Lee of Killeen Engineering and Surveying said Tuesday. “And I would also like to thank the planning department for meeting with us. We reached an agreement. We shrunk the size quite a bit for what we were asking for.”
The change applies to about 63 of 173 acres to allow for the reduced setback requirements for 246 lots.
“The revised request is to change the building setbacks for (246) lots subdivided (single-family residential neighborhood),” according to documents.
Although the new standards do not include setback guidelines other than those in the PUD requirements, the developer’s floor plans would have triggered clauses in the architectural and construction standards that would prevent the company from constructing homes to the developers’ specifications.
The Levy Crossing PUD was approved in July 2020 — nine months after the property was annexed into city limits. Killeen’s new architectural and design standards were approved on May 22 and went into effect on May 30. The developer would have been affected because it wanted to include three-car garages in the construction of at least some of the homes.
“Staff finds that the amended setback mitigation request applies only to the ‘R-1’ zoning district, which constitutes a reduced number of lots and includes a number of architectural standards that will be implemented immediately,” according to city documents. “Staff finds that this request is consistent with the policies and principles discussed in the recently adopted Comprehensive Plan. Therefore, staff recommends approval of the PUD amendment request as presented by the applicant.”
According to the city’s new design standards, two restrictions apply to building garages. If the garage faces the street, it cannot make up more than half of the house. And garages cannot protrude further than anything else on the house.
Staff on Aug. 23 recommended approving the developer’s request on the condition that it include the Planning and Zoning Commission’s decision that it use the city’s new architectural and design standards. The Planning and Zoning Commission meeting was on July 18, where Leo Gukeisen made a motion to approve the request. The commissioner withdrew his proposal when fellow Planning and Zoning Commissioner Louie Minor said architectural and engineering standards should be a condition of approval. Ultimately, Gukeisen made a motion with Minor’s recommendation, Minor seconded the motion, and it passed, 6-0.
The other commissioners are Kirk Latham, Councilor Ramon Alvarez, Luvina Sabree, Sandra O’Brien, Randy Ploeckelmann, Councilor Riakos Adams and Cyndi Rowe.
On Tuesday, Revell said that the architectural standards the developer will use “are effective immediately and there could have been a situation where it could have been a two-year delay. We think this is a good offer from the developer .”
Mayor Debbie Nash-King praised the “compromise”.
“Mr. Revell, thank you and your staff for working with the applicant to find a solution,” she said. “What I like most about it (is that) it stays within our comprehensive plan.”
The amendment request is on the consent agenda for Tuesday’s meeting at City Hall, 101 N. College St. The meeting is scheduled for