A landowner has decided to appeal the Baytown Planning and Zoning Commission’s decision to turn down a request to rezone 58.7 acres at the southwest corner of Interstate 10 and Sjolander Road to light industrial.
Ratcliff Development wants to construct about a dozen freestanding 15,000-square-foot warehouses on the property. To do this, the company has requested the land to be rezoned from open space/recreation to light industrial. The City of Baytown’s Future Land Use Plan’s business park designation supports this type of construction.
However, several citizens living near the area do not want the property to be rezoned. Speakers at the Dec. 17 P&Z meeting emphasized their point by bringing a petition with nearly 1,000 signatures opposing the rezoning.
Now, Ratcliff Development has appealed the P&Z decision’s not to rezone to light industrial to council. The appeal will be heard at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 23 by council at city hall.
Residents living near the property say their feelings have not changed.
“It would negatively impact the residents around that area and also impact the image of the city,” Thomas Parent, a Hunters Way resident, said. “It also takes the potential for what can be done on the I-10 corridor.”
Parent said citizens will show up at council to voice their opinions on the rezoning appeal.
“I expect quite a few people to show up. I hope city council listens to the people and declines rezoning,” Parent said.
Parent claims the developer has gone back and forth on some of the designs.
“First, they talk about not putting traffic on Sjolander, and then at the meeting they talked about putting traffic on Sjolander,” Parent said. “They have been inconsistent with what they plan to do on the property.”
Parent said even if Ratcliff Development were to comply with the wishes of the nearby residents, it would not be enough.
“As soon as it is rezoned, this guy can be out of the picture, and it can become anything allowed under light industrial,” Parent said.
Parent encourages anyone with zoning concerns, not just those living near the Ratcliff Development property, to attend the Jan. 23 meeting.
“We want everybody that believes Baytown can be different, that you do not need to put more warehouses or light industrial along I-10, to show up at 6:30 p.m. on the 23rd. We want to pack the house,” he said.
Councilman Chris Presley said council will have the final word on accepting or rejecting Ratcliff Development’s appeal.
“All of P&Z’s recommendations end up before council whether they recommend approval or disapproval,” Presley said. “Frankly, sometimes council agrees with the recommendation, and sometimes they do not agree. Council bases their decision on the merits of each individual rezoning application.”
Presley added council has traditionally put a lot of stock in P&Z’s recommendations.
“But if council were to turn the case down, it is a one-year wait before they can re-apply,” Presley said. “You cannot appeal council’s zoning decisions to a court of law.”