First Reading on Housing Change Approved

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A long evening of discussion Tuesday night for Bryan's city council, with a pair of housing issues bringing dozens of citizens with strong opinions.

In fact, one councilman said he'd never seen the Bryan Municipal Building filled like on this night. And that crowd was largely in favor of an ordinance which was read for the first time Tuesday night, one which would give neighborhoods the option of changing the allowed number of unrelated adults living together in single-family homes from four to two.

In the end, it was a 6-1 vote by the council in favor of the change on the ordinance's first reading. Councilman Joe Marin was the lone dissenting vote.

For the better part of an hour, residents spoke about the proposed ordinance. All but one person, a Texas A&M student, spoke in favor of giving neighborhoods the option of changing.

Residents spoke of neighbors' late night parties and unmaintained properties as reason to adopt the ordinance. A few made the point that this plan was not targeting just students, but any neighbors who were not interested in keeping a community spirit. They also said this ordinance would not solve all problems, but was a good step.

Two-thirds of a neighborhood would have to sign off on a change from four to two unrelated adults per home. The planning and zoning commission would then offer an opinion for the city council to consider. The process would be similar to any rezoning request that normally goes to the city.

A notary would also be required for each signature on the petition. Some residents in support of the ordinance voiced displeasure both with the two-thirds majority required and the extra step of getting signatures notarized. However, the council agreed these extra steps were necessary for the process.

There would be a grandfather clause in the ordinance for homes with more than two unrelated adults if a neighborhood successfully gets a zoning change.

The ordinance still must be read a second time. That will take place at the next council meeting.

The other item that drew attention was a proposed senior citizen development along East Villa Maria Road. The council approved a letter of support to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for The Mansion at Briar Creek. There was an added caveat in the letter that at least one member of a family living in the more-than-150 homes in the proposed development would have to be 55-years-old or older. That is one of two ways a development qualifies as one for senior citizens.

Developers have agreed to work the site for 40 years.

The large crowd was somewhat split about the topic, though a decent majority did not want the council to sign a letter of support. A portion of the property is designated as low income, and neighbors expressed concern that it would draw unwanted neighbors to the area.

Developers were there to qwell any fears of neighbors. Some spoke of their meeting with The Mansion officials, and said after speaking with them, their concerns were answered, and that they were on board with the project as a result.