A proposal to rezone land for a planned multi-family housing project in the Mormon Mill area of Marble Falls received negative feedback from neighboring property owners during a public hearing Tuesday, April 6. The Marble Falls City Council decided to hold a second public hearing before making a final decision on whether to rezone part of the land to neighborhood commercial from general commercial and the rest to transitional residential from its current neighborhood residential status.
The unanimous decision allows time for city staff, developers, and neighborhood residents to discuss buffering solutions to provide more privacy between pre-existing properties and the proposed development of 48 townhomes, duplexes, and triplexes.
It also allows more voices to be heard. According to city ordinance, future action taken by the council must now receive a three-fourths majority vote because most of the initial feedback provided by neighboring property owners has been negative.
The development has been in the works for two years, according to Vincent Huebinger, owner of Vincent Gerard & Associates, the planning and development firm in charge of the project. The multi-family townhomes will have entry gates to reduce traffic within the development. Estimated selling prices for the units range from $225,000 to $270,000.
The townhomes would be built on lots 1 and 35-A, both located in Holly-Naumann Subdivision No. 3 on the zoning map. They cover a 14.88-acre, T-shaped portion of land. Lot 35-A is located between the east side of U.S. 281 and Whitman Branch Creek, while Lot 1 runs between residential properties along Ridge Point Drive and Falls Parkway, opening up to Mormon Mill Road.
“I think it needs more attention on design on the property before you vote on it,” said Ron Schwier, a Ridge Point Drive homeowner, during the meeting.
He and other neighboring property owners expressed various concerns during the April 6 meeting, including increased traffic, potential noise complaints, and the project’s proximity to nearby backyards.
Huebinger told the council that he and the other developers involved met with neighboring property owners several times in the past to discuss plans for the townhomes. Including Schwier, 35 property owners in the area were notified of the proposed rezoning and development prior to a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting March 4. Of the 11 responses received by the commission, nine expressed opposition to the project. Planning and Zoning voted to recommend the project to the City Council despite the opposition.
“It’s been a challenge, it really has,” Huebinger said. “I respect what (the residents) are asking for. We’ve done everything they’ve asked, and we’re just trying to solve a problem.”
Irene Tabor, who previously owned the portion of Lot 1 included in the project, expressed concerns that building multi-family homes could affect the value of the single-family residential property nearby. She owns a home on Mormon Mill Road.
In response, Councilor Dave Rhodes pointed out that the proposed project has allowed for community input, whereas leaving the zoning “as-is” would limit the amount of say both the council and residents have. Since it is zoned commercial, businesses could go in without having to come to the council for permission. Residents of the city’s historic district face a similar issue. A convenience store is planned for a piece of property between U.S. 281 and some of the city’s most stately homes.
“It’s important to understand when you leave here what the alternative could be, and we would have no say in it,” Rhodes said. “It’s already been zoned that way; the use in general commercial has already been set.”