BCS Regional Association of Realtors submits petition against College Station’s ROO proposal

Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 7:50 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - The BCS Regional Association of Realtors submitted a petition to city officials this week with more than 2,200 signatures against the City of College Station’s Restricted Occupancy Overlay or ROO.

Association Executive Amy DuBose says she hopes city officials will recognize the wide variety of residents who have signed the petition against the measure and ultimately impact their decision.

“What’s great about it is it’s from a diverse subset of our community,” DuBose said. “We have students, we have business owners, and we have property owners. We have realtors and builders obviously, but we have a lot of different types of individuals who are on this coalition.”

The petition was started last Wednesday. DuBose says they wanted to give citizens an additional mechanism to express their concerns about the ROO. The petition also gave signees the option to elaborate on their feelings by leaving a comment.

“People talk about their real-life experiences living in College Station being a renter, being a student here, being alumni,” DuBose said. “People who want kind of the feel of College Station to remain what it is.”

DuBose says the ROO would impact all property owners in a neighborhood where one is adopted, not only renters. She says its reach is much wider than that, regardless if one is living on their property or renting it out to others.

“The city did have their own survey that they did that showed over 82% of those who responded were against the ROO, but they chose to move forward with it anyway,” DuBose said.

Linda Bendiksen is on the board of the College Station Association of Neighborhoods. She’s concerned many people who are against the ROO believe if it is adopted, it will automatically go into effect citywide, which is not the case. Even if the measure is adopted by the city council, individual neighborhoods must still petition for it to apply to their subdivision.

Bendiksen says some who signed the Association of Realtors’ petition were under the wrong impression.

“Some of the people who signed the petition, and I know because I’ve talked to a few of them, they went into that with the understanding that, ‘Oh my gosh, if this ordinance passes, this is something that’s going to be immediately imposed on me,’” Bendiksen said. “I hope that as city council looks at [the petition], they’ll think about what went into the construction of it.”

But that’s not how the ROO would work. Bendiksen wants people to know it gives neighborhoods an opportunity to pursue the proposed overlay.

“I’ve heard that word a lot. This is going to be imposed,” Bendiksen said. “It’s not imposed. It’s something that I and my neighborhood would have to pursue. In fact, what would have to happen is something that comes from grassroots up. I would have to take the time and make the effort to go out and talk to all these people in my neighborhood.”

Currently drafted, the ROO would require “50% +1″ of property owners in their respective neighborhood to petition and approve the overlay. Once approved, there is a grandfathering clause for current residents. Their property would not have to fall into compliance until the home is demolished, substantially altered, or the lot is subdivided.

“We’re not surprised with the level of petition approval that came through,” DuBose said. “We were fully expecting for it to be the ‘50% +1.’ We still very much feel that’s too low to have real representation in a neighborhood.”

“At the last city council meeting, you could see as they went around and asked each member, they seemed to arrive at a pretty good feeling of this going to be pretty fair,” Bendiksen said. “This isn’t something that’s going to happen suddenly or arbitrarily. There are those grandfathering opportunities. I know some people were concerned with the ‘50% +1,’ but that still means it’s a majority.”

DuBose says she is concerned about some holes in the grandfathering clause that’s been proposed. One of them, she points out, is related to property falling under compliance once it is demolished.

“What if you have a house fire, and you have to demolish your property,” DuBose said. “Then all of a sudden, you fall out of the legacy clause, and you are required to only have two unrelated, and that’s your maximum. That’s not fair to that individual. It wasn’t their choice to demolish their property, but there’s not anything that’s built-in currently that’s going to give any level of flexibility on something like that.”

The College Station Planning & Zoning Commission will discuss the Restricted Occupancy Overlay at its meeting on Thursday evening at 6 p.m. and recommend any potential amendments to the city council.

“Everybody has a right to push back against it. Everybody has a right to passionately want it like I do,” Bendiksen said. “I think the council has really looked at all that and listened to input from a wide variety of people.”

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