Proposed housing development near Port Arthur golf course draws opposition

Published 12:40 am Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The request to build a group of patio homes near the Babe Zaharias Golf Course will not be decided for at least two more weeks following opposition from residents in the area and a failed vote from the Planning and Zoning Commission.

On Tuesday a public hearing was held in the City Council chambers regarding a zoning change from single family to planned development in order to allow for 70 lots on 3.578 acres of land north of Jimmy Johnson Boulevard and east of Golfhill Drive in Port Arthur.

The developer filed the application for the zoning change Feb. 7, said Larry Badon, senior planner with the Planning and Zoning department. The Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing May 16, for which they received two verbal and three written oppositions.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The commission then voted three to one to deny the request.

On April 26, City Council approved a resolution to allow a second public hearing, which took place during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting.

During his presentation, Badon read from the three letters of opposition the Planning and Zoning Commission received.

“When I bought my home, one reason I bought it was because of the beautification of the area,” one unidentified person wrote, saying any structure on the intended property would take away what they most loved about the residence. “I also feel this will greatly take away from the golf course. The golfers slice balls that will hit those homes…this could cause major injuries to anyone that resides there.”

Other concerns cited in the letters were a potential change to surrounding home values and traffic.

The development would include its own access road for residents.

Dallas Smith, who lives on Golf Hill Drive, aired his concerns during Tuesday’s meeting.

“If y’all change the zoning…from what it already is, they can build anything they want,” he said. “It can be apartments, it can be Section 8. I’m totally against it.”

Section 8 is rental assistance for low-income residents provided through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

City Attorney Valecia Tizeno said she would need to better inspect the proposals before deciding if the development could be used as Section 8.

“Generally speaking, if you’re a property owner and you choose to lease your property, you can lease it any way you choose,” she said. “It’s like any other property you own — you can rent it, you can live in it.”

Councilman Cal Jones suggested to council allow Tizeno to research the proposal before any action is taken.

“Here in the City of Port Arthur, I think as a council and citizens, we want development,” Councilman Donald Frank said. “We want our city to grow. I want us to want development. But at the same time, we want to listen to our citizens. We want Port Arthur to be a place they want to stay.”

An ordinance on the agenda that would have granted the zoning change was tabled until the July 5 meeting.