Cleburne City Hall

Citing state legislative changes and other concerns, Cleburne City Council members on Tuesday approved XR Development’s rezoning request over the objections of several nearby residents.

XR Development requested a zoning change from SF-4 single family dwelling district to planned development district on 38.376 acres located north of Mann Court, south of Mimosa Street and west of Grand Avenue.

XR plans to build 140 single-family homes and 22 town homes on the property.

“The applicant is requesting a base zoning of the SF-4 district for the single-family detached homes, with some deviations, including minimum lot area and building setbacks,” Cleburne Executive Director of Development Services Shane Pace said. “The applicant is also proposing some amenities, including residential landscaping and seven acres of open space dedicated to the city as a future public park.”

Pace added that the portion of land to be dedicated to the city ties into other city-owned land designated as park area, which remains landlocked for now.

The Cleburne Planning and Zoning Commission considered XR’s request on July 13 at which time they recommended approval by a 4-1 vote. 

Several residents voiced opposition during that hearing citing flooding, traffic safety and privacy concerns.

The city notified 90 property owners within 200 feet of the property.

P&Z conditioned their recommendation of approval on three requirements. 

XR Development must construct a temporary drainage berm along existing properties on Mann Court to remain in place through completion of construction.

Other P&Z conditions set the minimum lot size in Area A of the development at 6,000 square feet with the exception of two lots set at a 5,600 square foot minimum. P&Z conditions also set the minimum rear yard setback in Area B of the project at 30 feet.

XR Development agreed to the conditions as to conduct a traffic study of the area.

Cleburne Council members voted 3-1 during their July 28 meeting to postpone action on the matter to Tuesday’s meeting. 

Councilman Bob Kelly voiced support for new homebuilding during the July 28 meeting but said he needed additional time to research the XR Development request.

Several residents from adjacent neighborhoods also spoke in opposition to the development during the July 28 meeting. 

Cleburne resident Barbara Sisk, for example, asked if the developers would keep the property mowed and maintained throughout the building phases and was assured that they would.

Sisk also questioned the usefulness of the traffic study given that children had been out of school for months at that time while quite a few other residents were out of work or working from home during that time because of school and business shutdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Developers replied that an accurate count is still possible through employing current counts, pre-pandemic counts and historic data.

Pace on Tuesday told council members that the city has received additional letters of opposition since the July 28 council meeting, a total of 37 letters overall.

As per state law, Pace told council members, a super majority council vote is required for approval in instances where more than 20 percent of property owners within the 200-foot boundary protest the zoning change request.

The opposition rate in this case, Pace said, totals more than 23 percent.

Sisk spoke again on Tuesday expressing concerns over alleyway access between the new development and her neighborhood for emergency and utility vehicles.

Sisk added that the grass XR Development promises to maintain is now 6-feet tall. Resident Lisa Fogle also said the property has not been maintained.

Residents Robert and Kay Harris said the numbers of new homes will adversely affect safety and traffic for the surrounding neighborhoods.

Mayor Scott Cain referenced other concessions on XR Development’s part such as placement of windows out of privacy concerns for existing adjacent homes and an agreement to render one planned two-story home a single-story structure instead.

Cain said XR Development also agreed to installing 80 percent masonry in construction, sidewalk specifications above city ordinance requirements and other factors.

“I understand the concerns of residents in the established neighborhoods,” Cain said. “It’s always difficult to see open areas developed. But we as a council have to look at value, good sustainable houses and this to me looks like a good project for the area.

“It’s not perfect and not going to make everyone happy. But development is coming to that area one way or another so we have to be careful what we wish for.”

Recent changes in state law limit the ability of cities to require certain standards from builders, Cain said. Meaning that, were the council to deny XR Development’s request, another developer could purchase the property down the road then build to lower standards.

Councilman Mike Mann agreed. 

“The Legislature is tying our hands on building standards,” Mann said. “But here we have what looks to be a good development where the developers made several concessions they didn’t have to.”

Councilman Chris Boedeker said he was initially on the fence over the matter but now believes the development once completed will be a plus to the surrounding neighborhoods and city overall.

Council members also agreed to release $3,683 in interest on liens filed against a vacant property at 703 Dewey Street.

Nathian Chandler, the property owner’s son, recently moved back to Cleburne and took over management of the property, City Secretary Ivy Peterson said.

Chandler intends to build a house of the property, Peterson said.

Chandler, in order to secure financing, paid three of six liens against the property. The three remaining — tow for mowing and one for demolition — total $7,760 of which $3,683 is interest.

The property sits within Councilman John Warren’s district. Chandler, Warren said, has built two churches and several homes in Cleburne in addition to homes in other parts of the Metroplex.

Council agreed to release the interest charges provided Chandler begins construction within 80 days and completes within a year.

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