DeSoto City Council Votes Against a Veteran’s Multi-Family Development

City of DeSoto govt building
DeSoto Government Building

Hampton Road Veterans Development Voted Down

DESOTO – A public hearing was held regarding a zoning case in which the applicant was asking for deviations at 1541-1553 Hampton Road for a multi-Family planned development to be used as housing for veterans. The proposed project, the Patriots Point DeSoto Veterans Multifamily Development, failed to pass when council voted unanimously to deny the application.

Falling in line with the Planning and Zoning Commission’s decision to say no to the development, councilmember Place 5, Dr. Dinah Marks made the motion to deny the applicant the necessary changes needed to see the project pass. Mayor Pro Tem Place Four, Andre Byrd, seconded the motion. A super majority vote was needed to approve the project since the Planning and Zoning Commission had denied the development by a 4-2 vote.

The Planning and Zoning Commission heard this request on May 25 with two ayes and four nays. Concerns about the development include: traffic flow with the busy intersection, a lack of alignment with the city’s Comprehensive Plan, no proximity to grocery stores and the distance from the west building to the refuse facility.

Staff did not recommend passing this ordinance because the land where the development would be is currently zoned for industrial and light retail.

Many Challenges For The Property To Work

The property is currently vacant and includes four undeveloped lots. It is currently zoned Planned Development-142 General Retail. The properties surrounding it to the north include a Planned Development-142 with a base zoning of General Retail; to the east general retail; to the south, Golden Rule Charter School (Planned Development-179 and General Retail); and to the west Planned Development-94 consisting of a base zoning of Single Family.

The public hearing included a look at the proposed development with one entrance off North Hampton Road. Additionally the applicant proposed a second entrance with a Knox Box locking system for first responders from Corporate Drive to assure appropriate safety measures.

The development was to include 139 one-bedroom apartments and 126 two-bedroom apartments. Zoning Ordinance’s permit a maximum density of 18 units per acre for such multi-family dwellings. In this case, the applicant was requesting an increase in density of 6.21 units per acre, resulting in a total of 24.22 units per acre.

Market Survey Found A Demand In The Area

While there were some site plan deviations regarding only permitting veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, first responders and widows of the fallen and their families, the City Attorney confirmed the city could not enforce the limitation of this restriction within the Ordinance.

A deviation regarding parking was also requested to provide 474 parking spaces as per the site plan, which is less than the 495 spaces required by the ordinance.

The applicant, Lauren Montgomery, and a representative spoke during the public hearing to discuss the Veterans Support Center with onsite housing. They had conducted a market survey and found a demand in the area and noted “this is a perfect property because while the plan shows this is industrial or retail, the current property owners have had the current property for over 20 years … we see that serving the community and providing a resource center that doesn’t exist in the area will be something that is a tremendous asset to the city.”

How Would The City Apply Housing Restrictions?

The city attorney mentioned that the city is only allowed to consider age restrictions 55 and up. This raised yet another question -would the housing restriction be a voluntary restriction?

Councilmember Marks asked what would happen if the owner was to sell the property – would those restrictions still apply?

The applicant’s representative explained they do have to follow Federal Housing Laws and this property would have regulations as part of a program where they would be providing veteran’s housing. This is something “we are doing voluntarily” he said “with a land restriction agreement required with many regulations and overseen by the Texas Department of Housing and by the lender. So, there are restrictions that must be followed with that type of land use restrictions. The services being provided will be something that always has to be provided by the property therefore a deed restriction required.”

In other words, the voluntary program the development would be part of, once the deed restriction is recorded, would go with the property. Because of this, the next person who purchased that property would also have to adhere to the deed restriction.

Why Is This Needed In DeSoto?

Place 6 councilmember Crystal Chism said she understood a development like this in San Antonio, but “Why DeSoto,” she questioned.

The applicant answered “What is unique about DeSoto, is the Inland Port and the intermobility hub – that is something that is an employment center logistics for military…” In a word, easy job placement opportunity and the VA Center is relatively close to the area.

“That is one thing we did see – there is a lot of veterans housing concentrated in San Antonio and areas that are close to a base,” the applicant responded. “But employment centers are important, and the hometown feel of DeSoto and the opportunities that are here is something that would be nice to allow housing for veterans in a community like DeSoto.”

Mayor Pro Tem Byrd Asked Why Is This Plot of Land A Good Fit?

Mayor Pro Tem Andre Byrd asked specifically why this plot of land? He pointed out there are no grocery stores or services in that area.

“You mentioned the Inland Port,” Byrd said, adding that due to this it makes the land even more valuable with the existing zoning as is.

“One of the opportunities with the growth of the inland port is there is a lot of industry in this area, not saying it is saturated, there is a lot of land that is zoned for industrial and a lot of new industrial development but what there is a lack of is housing and a lack of housing for veterans,” the applicant replied. “There are not any veteran’s housing opportunities in this area and logistics and the type of military training really go together well in this area. We have found people will drive a little bit for the services to live in a community like DeSoto with a hometown feel.”

Byrd also reminded the applicant the City of DeSoto is not tied into DART for necessary transportation from DeSoto to the Veterans Center on Lancaster Road. That is part of the comprehensive services the development would have been coordinating for residents.

Chism also asked if there had been a traffic study done in the area. Applicant Lauren Montgomery concluded that if zoning was approved, they would then be required to do a traffic study when they were at that portion of the engineering.

“We know that, acknowledge that, and understand the ramifications of that,” she said.

City of DeSoto Approves Contract For Re-branding

Council did approve unanimously the execution of a contract with Augustine for community branding in the city for $159,500.

The city has had the same branding since 1949. The first goal to create this branding falls in line with the Council’s Strategic Plan to create a city identity and marketing and communications strategy to improve marketing and public relations efforts. These goals are supported by the FY21 Work Plan, which includes obtaining City Council approval of a new City-wide brand identity, marketing campaign, and logo update.