Bobby Apple, of the Celina-based The Apple Company, showed commissioners and residents of the longtime west Beeville neighborhood that he was willing to listen to those who would be his new neighbors and consider their wishes.
The developer was asking for the commissioners to grant him a zone change from the current R-1, First Family Dwelling District and the B-2, Secondary Business District to an R-3, Duplex and Apartment District.
Apple plans to develop 42 lots with 21 one them on each side of a street that he will name Amistad Street.
So far, Apple has not decided how many of the homes will be for single families and how many will be duplexes.
He promised that there would be no apartments built in the development.
The main concern of residents of North Lightburne was settled when Apple promised to build only one-story residences on the east side of Amistad Street. Those residences will back up to existing homes on North Lightburne, and residents were concerned about the possibility of their backyard neighbors being able to look down into their yards and homes.
Apple said he understands the privacy issue and would build the two-story residences only on the west side of the new street.
Apple also eased fears among some of the Lightburne Street residents concerning the fact that some residents along Amistad Street would be renters.
“The duplexes are an investment opportunity,” Apple said. The two-family dwellings would sell for somewhere between $200,000 and $230,000,” he said. They would be too expensive for low-income residents to rent.
Apple expects to see many of the duplexes sell to families who would live in one side and rent out the other side.
That would allow the owner to be able to collect enough rent to actually pay off the entire monthly mortgage, given today’s low interest rates, he said.
“We’re not going to build this and turn it loose,” Apple said. “I will maintain ownership of the development for several years.”
In fact, he said he and his wife of 40 years will have a home on Amistad Street, and they will live there.
The developer said he was not sure at this time what the demand would be for the duplexes and, for that reason, he wanted some flexibility.
He also showed those at the meeting a chart explaining that the city has a 15-foot drainage easement between his property and that of any of the North Lightburne residents.
In addition, Apple said a six-foot, wooden privacy fence would be built along the east side of the development to ensure privacy for the Lightburne Street residents.
Commission member Erie Head asked Apple if he could assure Lightburne Street residents that there would be no two-story structures built behind their property.
“I have no problem with that,” Apple said.
One Lightburne Street resident said he was concerned about low-income families moving into the neighborhood, but Apple said none of the properties within the development would be for rent-assisted residents.
“Low income people will not be able to afford the properties,” Apple said.
Single-family homes in the development will be priced at $110,000 and $150,000.
“I promise you it’s not going to be low-income subsidy at all,” Apple said.
He also intends to impose limits on the number of pets a resident can keep and on the number of vehicles that can be parked on the properties.
Single-family homes will have a two-car garage and a driveway capable of holding two vehicles. In addition, each residence also will have a parking pad where someone could park a travel trailer or a boat and keep it off the street.
Apple said very few vehicles will ever need to be parked at the curb.
The developer also promised to have a gate built at the far north side of the street that will give emergency and city-owned vehicles access to the end of Amistad Street.
Apple said that will be a safety feature.
Although the gate will be locked so that not anybody can get onto Amistad Street from Flores Street, emergency vehicles, like fire trucks and ambulances, will have a key to the gate.
After hearing all the comments and having their questions answered, Commissioner John Salinas made a motion to recommend that the City Council approve Apple’s zone change request.
The motion was seconded by Commissioner Patty Alexander, and it passed without opposition.
Before adjourning, commissioners also voted to recommend that the City Council approve the voluntary annexation of property on U.S. Highway 59 where the new, 69-room La Quinta hotel is located.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.