ROCKWALL, TX – July 28, 2021 — Last night, the Rockwall Planning and Zoning Commission approved the site plan in a 6-1 vote for the 263-unit Rockwall Downtown Lofts development on the corner of SH-66 and Alamo Road near the Downtown Square. The property sits across from the Rockwall Police Department.
The proposed development will include 170 one-bedroom units, 86 two-bedroom units and seven three-bedroom units, with an average unit size of 850 square feet. The developer is also proposing a secured parking lot designated for Rockwall police, and will provide a dedicated right hand turn lane along SH-66 as well as a deceleration lane along South Alamo Road. Amenities include a resort swimming pool in the center of the property, a resort-style, two-level fitness center, and a gate-secured parking lot with camera surveillance for residents. A sky lounge on the fourth level of the south side of the property will overlook the lake.
P&Z Commission Chairman Eric Chodun had the lone vote against approving the site plan, stating that he didn’t feel the development meets the stipulations of Urban Residential land use which the property is zoned.
“I don’t think Urban Residential is defined to cover this kind of development,” Chodun said. “I have an issue with it, and I think the community backs my opinion of it. I think what’s in the best interest of the community is to deny this.”
According to the City of Rockwall’s Director of Planning, Ryan Miller, Urban Residential land use was adopted for the Central Business District (CBD) with two stipulations:
- Urban Residential includes residential development which at least partly faces streets, public sidewalks or common open space, or which are located above retail office or service uses.
- Ground floor Urban Residential should have direct access to a sidewalk via a stoop or landing, and a majority of parking should be located in a structure.
Miller said the form-based code has remained unchanged from the time it was adopted and including up to the time the applicant submitted his proposal for the Rockwall Downtown Lofts development in 2018.
Despite numerous residents showing up to speak against the development in the Open Forum session of the meeting, the majority of the P&Z Commission members voted in favor because the development meets all the requirements of the Downtown District Form-Based Code, and conforms to the land use conditions outlined in the city’s UDC (Unified Development Code).
“It’s extremely difficult when you look and you listen and you understand where everyone is coming from,” said P&Z Commission Vice Chairman Jerry Welch. “One of the reminders is this is step one, this is a site plan, so there’s still a lot of work to be done and a lot of approvals to be levied. I counted 27 standards that are required, and every standard was checked that it was in compliance. This is a technical body, and there are certain things we can enforce and we can’t enforce.”
Tony Austin, the developer of the proposed apartment, spoke to the concerns of the residents during the meeting.
“I feel for their concerns. I’m also a resident of this community, I love this community. I think this project is going to be extremely beneficial for our community. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t think it was right. We’ve worked very hard on this project for the past two years with the city to meet all of the requirements. We tried to be very sensitive to all city concerns. I apologize that we can’t make everyone happy, but I feel very strongly that this is the right project at the right time for the city of Rockwall,” Austin said.
“At the end of the day, I’m about doing what’s right as far as what the city has agreed to as long as it aligns with the laws and rules we have in place here,” said Commissioner Sedric Thomas. “This project conforms with everything. This is a tight spot for us all.”
Click here to see the meeting in its entirety.
Blue Ribbon News staff report.
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