March 19, 2008
Minimum lot size ordinance upheld

This totally flew under the radar last week - I only heard about the Planning Commission's vote the day it happened when this story appeared in the This Week section of the Chron - but the decision to deny a variance to subdivide a lot beyond the minimum 3000 square foot requirement is a big deal.

The vote to deny Jared Meadors of Medusa Properties' request for his property at 2601 Baylor St. to be exempted from East Sunset Heights' ordinance mandating 3,000-foot minimum lot sizes came March 13in a standing-room-only meeting at the Houston City Hall Annex, 900 Bagby.

With one abstention and virtually no opposition from commissioners, the vote reflected the recommendation of the Houston Planning and Development Department.

It followed two previous public hearings on the matter since Feb. 14 and the testimony of residents from East Sunset Heights and other neighborhoods with similar ordinances.

Meadors, who bought the property in August 2006, had sought to re-plat his 5,880-square-foot property into three lots rather than two. He had requested the variance based on money his company had spent, in part to conduct exploratory demolition on a small portion of a former post office built on the site in the 1920s.

He also claimed that he wasn't informed of the lot size ordinance filed by Sunset Heights residents Sept. 26, 2006, and adopted by Houston City Council in October 2007.


Vicki Davis, the primary East Sunset Heights resident who drove the community's effort for the lot size ordinance, said the commission's decision was received by a grateful community.

It also sets precedence, she said, marking the first time an attempt was made to seek a variance after a prevailing lot size ordinance was in place.

"It was positive to see the neighborhood come together and work hard to fight this, and we are grateful for all the help we received from outside the neighborhood. People from all over the city were watching this," Davis said. "This was our battle, but in the end, it was a much bigger fight than this corner in East Sunset Heights."

As you may recall, previous attempts to enforce a minimum lot size ordinance didn't go so well, which led to a different approach last year. I'm glad to see that this time the outcome was what the neighborhood expected. Inside Central Houston has more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 19, 2008 to Elsewhere in Houston