By Anthony Scott
Killeen Daily Herald

KILLEEN — Developers flocked to city hall Tuesday night as City Council knocked down a request for a conditional-use permit that would have allowed developers to rezone and build duplexes and town homes in the University Overlay District.

After a public hearing, a split vote disapproved of granting a variance from the city’s long-term plans.

Throughout a series of workshops and council meetings, various issues have come up against allowing the project, mostly with opposition coming from residents and council members.

While the city’s long-term plans call for student housing, council members and residents have said throughout a series of meetings that duplexes likely won’t target students because it’s either too expensive, the campus won’t be complete or the market for the homes may not even exist.

The overlay and comprehensive plans were designed to economically develop the area of Killeen near the future campus Texas A&M University-Central Texas, which is under construction.

Residents also have sent in petitions and responded negatively to the idea of rezoning the property after the city sent out response sheets to nearby landowners. About 50 people were at the meeting, with the developers speaking in favor of the project and several residents speaking against the project.

“We’re doing everything (planning and zoning) told us to do,” said Scott Vernon, an applicant speaking on behalf of the developers.

Council members Ken Wells and JoAnn Purser did not disapprove of the item with the rest of council. Mayor Tim Hancock left council chambers mid-meeting, immediately before the hearing began.

“I reviewed the comprehensive land-use plan,” Purser said. “I reviewed the university overlay district guidelines. There was no compelling argument not to support the comprehensive land-use plan and the university overlay. I’m actually trying to implement what the plan says. I’m actually confused as to why they voted against it.”

Purser said she believed residents were mostly complaining about drainage and flooding as opposed to the duplexes. She also took contention with TAMUCT putting their input into the decision.

“As far as the university governing and controlling acreage they do not own; if they have the desire to be protected, they should have acquired all the land they need to protect themselves. They cannot hamstring all the property owners in Killeen, Texas, until they’re finished with the project.”