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PA council denies zoning change

For residents on Golfhill Drive like Gene Cooksey and Dan Wingate, Port Arthur City Council’s decision not to rezone a portion of Jimmy Johnson Boulevard was considered a victory.

“This is great. It’s what we wanted,” Cooksey said after council made the decision on Tuesday. “Most of us are retired and have put our life savings into the property, that’s why we built out there.”

Richard Gilbert of GP Realty Building Company requested the zoning change for the vacant land on both sides of Jimmy Johnson Boulevard, beginning 85 feet east of Golfhill Drive and extending east approximately 660 feet.

The proposed change would have made the land in question shift from a single family residential district to light commercial.

Wingate, a resident on the drive since 1995, headed up the push to let officials know their feelings.

“We’re all very grateful to council for their decision,” Wingate said. “It shows good old fashioned common sense. We believe in development in the city, but planned development.”

As the issue was discussed, one by one councilmembers chimed in with their thoughts and reasons for their votes.

Councilmember Robert “Bob” Williamson said he had received much feedback from the citizens in the affected area opposing the change.

“I will vote for the will of my constituents,” Williamson said.

Councilmember Willie “Bae” Lewis said he also has heard from citizens living in the area and referred back to a previous public hearing where a large number of residents spoke out in opposition to the rezoning.

The zoning change failed with eight councilmembers voting against the issue and one, Councilmember Martin Flood, voting in favor, of the ordinance.

Twelve property owners near the area in question were notified of the proposed changes. Eleven protests and two approvals were recorded. Six written protests were received and no one submitting support in writing. In addition, a petition with 85 signatures representing 57 residences in opposition to the zoning change was submitted at a prior Planing and Zoning Commission hearing.