This is a letter to Mayor White and City Council exploring a temporary moratorium on development. Click on the image below to read the letter, or click on the “read more” link for the text:

Letter from Peter Brown to Mayor White concerning a moratorium

September 26, 2007

Mayor Bill White, and
Members of City Council
P.O. Box 1562
Houston, TX 77251

Dear Colleagues,

Affected residents gathered at Poe Elementary School last week concerned about the proposed 23-story, 183-unit, high-rise apartment building on a 1.7 acre “unrestricted” tract at 1717 Bissonnet and Ashby that would literally dwarf the surrounding single family homes. They were unanimous in their opposition, asserting that it is inappropriate for this setting , and that there are alternative economic uses for the property, which would be compatible with the neighborhood. Residents were further worried that the density and height would cause significant adverse impacts including traffic congestion, flooding, the blocking of sunlight, lower residential property values, and over burdening the City’s infrastructure. Their concerns seem reasonable. The developer has proceeded without adequate input from the community, and the plans for the building at this point are preliminary (schematic design), although a construction permit for foundation work apparently is pending.

The Texas Local Government Code, sections 212.131 through 212.138, in cases such as this, provides the option for a municipal governing body to declare a temporary moratorium. This is followed by a requisite “due process,” including “findings,” two public hearings, and a vote on an ordinance placing a moratorium on further development for a specified time period. An affirmative vote would be based on impacts “detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the municipality.”

A moratorium period would allow the parties the opportunity to work out an agreement on the further course of action. This should be one of the options considered by the Administration and City Council.

Accordingly, I am asking the Administration to evaluate this as a viable option among the tools at its disposal. I want to emphasize that moratorium is a delay, not a “taking,” and that this matter is urgent, and serious.

Your input is much appreciated, and I look forward to answering any questions you may have. I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues to resolve this matter and improve the quality of life in our great city.

With sincere best wishes,

Peter Brown

Houston City Council Member At-Large Position 1