8% Groves population jump puts city leaders on notice to preserve commercial opportunities

Published 12:36 am Thursday, October 28, 2021

GROVES — City council members for Groves are considering making certain areas zoned exclusively for commercial properties as the city’s population continues to grow.

City Manager D.E. Sosa said Groves has seen a significant bump in population numbers, which is causing “good problems,” like the need for another garbage truck.

“A couple of the council members feel like we may need to protect some of the commercial property,” he said. “In 10 years, we might not have any commercial property available that is not being used by a resident.”

The city has cumulative zoning with the most restrictive zoning for single family residential. That means only single-family dwellings can be built in that zoning. On the other side, industrial property, commercial property and business district property can be used for residential property.

The city council wants to look into specific zoning that would make commercial zoning restrictive in certain areas. The zoning would not impact any current residential properties in the area, city leaders stress.

Sosa said the primary areas the council would focus on would be Main Street and 39th Street.

“We are going to get some maps together, get them out to the city council and look at some existing vacant commercial properties and consider making it commercial only,” Sosa said. “That is still a long way off, and we would still have to have public hearings on it. We would also have to meet with the planning and zoning committee. The discussion (this week) was just to see where the councilmembers stood and see if it is worth discussing more.”

Sosa said the city has seen growth over the past decade that it has probably not seen over the past 40 years.

“We got a peak at our new census numbers and we are officially going from 16,144 to 17,335,” he said. “That is an 8 percent increase in the population. That is phenomenal and unheard of for a city our size. We are landlocked.”

Sosa said the Peace and Dignity program has allowed the landlocked city to continue to grow.

“That program takes out dilapidated and dangerous structures,” he said. “When those are cleared out, people come and buy it and build new houses on it. We are growing within ourselves. We only have one new subdivision, so everything else is basically being revitalized.”

Groves Mayor Chris Borne said the council will need to analyze the issue from all sides.

“We have to be very careful, because we are going to be telling people what they can do with the land they already own,” he said. “We have to go lightly into that. Our growth over the last few years, we have been bringing in some businesses, but our housing is landlocked and we brought in more housing than businesses. Ultimately, it is about finding a happy medium that benefits the city and allows us to have the opportunity to have new businesses and expand old businesses.”