Duke says he will only support blanket rezoning of Highland, Pecue areas if majority of affected property owners want it

    Planning Director Frank Duke says if the Metro Council gives his office the green light to look at blanket rezoning for parts of Highland Road and Pecue Lane, he will only approve the change if a large majority of the property owners in the affected area support it.

    “We’d be essentially taking development rights away from them,” Duke says of the property owners and why he is hesitant to approve the blanket rezoning without the support.

    At issue is the density of developments allowed in the areas. Some residents living on Highland between Interstate 10 and Siegen Lane and on Pecue between Perkins Road and Highland want the entire area rezoned from rural, which allows for seven homes per acre, to REA1, which limits development to one home per acre. The residents say the change is needed because Highland Road cannot handle more traffic and water issues would be exacerbated. They say they have collected signatures from more than 200 property owners who want the change.

    The Metro Council on Tuesday discussed a request by Councilman Chandler Loupe to have the Planning Commission study the issue, but deferred voting on it until its Nov. 24 meeting so members could further look into it.

    Even if the council approves the study at its next meeting, it would be several months before any blanket rezoning would take place, Duke says.

    Before performing the study, Duke says he and his staff would have to pinpoint the legal boundaries of the area included in the rezoning. They would also have to serve legal notice to all residents inside and within 300 feet of the boundaries.

    “It’s not as easy as the council direction would be,” Duke says.

    Duke says they would then look at three issues: would changing the zoning be consistent with the comprehensive plan, is it compatible with the rest of the area, and would changing the zoning be consistent with all development regulations.

    If he can say “yes” to all three of those questions and a large majority of property owners in the area back the change, Duke says he would give his approval. The item would then have to go before the Planning Commission before landing on the desks of the Metro Council.

    Dukes says the study would take at least four to eight weeks to complete, meaning the earliest he would present the results would be February—and that’s assuming the Metro Council approves the study on Nov. 24.

    That means any developments for that area already in the pipeline that get Planning Commission approval before February would essentially be grandfathered in and would not be subject to the lower density requirements, Duke says. The development he refers to is Valhalla, a high-end gated subdivision proposed by Dantin Bruce Development that would put 20 homes on 15 acres. Dantin’s application has been deferred until the Dec. 13 meeting at the request of Loupe, who represents the area, but cannot legally be deferred again, Duke says.

    Valhalla would sit on the site of the failed Heritage Oaks development that the Highland and Pecue residents successfully warded off earlier this year. That development called for 39 single-family lots on a 15.4-acre tract.

    —Ryan Broussard

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