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TEXARKANA, Texas — Requested rezoning in a South Texarkana neighborhood is meant to allow construction of small homes to rent to people age 55 and older, a staffer told the City Council during its meeting Monday.

Rezoning the land from Agriculture to Single Family-3 would allow building small, two- or three-bedroom homes, intended as rental properties, on 50-foot wide lots, Mashell Daniel, city director of inspections and code enforcement, told the Council. More than a dozen neighbors of the lots in question, in the 2000 and 2100 blocks of South State Line Avenue and the 2100 block of Spruce Street, signed a petition objecting to rezoning, citing potential nuisances and disturbances.

"We contend that the significant and intense jump from agriculture to SF-3 would bring high density growth, heavy traffic, noise, elimination of adjoining neighbors' privacy, and potential rise in crime, as opposed to a slower growth plan of nice SF-1 homes and plans of potential privacy fencing, maintained alley ways, widened roads.

"We contend this is just an end-run around the system to place as many structures and people on one block of property as possible, diminishing the value of land of other property owners, disrespecting the peace and dignity of the current neighbors. This magnitude of change will have the same or similar affect of multi-family housing," the petition states.

The owners of the land, Keith Wiley and Southpark Properties LLC, intend to rent the houses to seniors and ensure they are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Daniel said.

Because there is objection to the proposed rezoning, three quarters of the Council must vote for approval for it to take effect. A public hearing and vote are scheduled for the Council's next meeting, on Jan. 25.


City Limit Landings

City Attorney Jeff Lewis briefed the Council on a proposed ordinance that would regulate where helicopters can land within the city limits. The ordinance would require a landowner to acquire a temporary landing permit before helicopters can land on their property. Dedicated heliports and designated landing spots called helistops would not require the permit.

"It's to ensure the safety of the landing area and the safety of the approach of the helicopter," Lewis said, inviting revisions to the draft ordinance.

Council members Jay Davis and Bill Harp questioned whether limiting landings to at least 1,000 feet from a public road was too restrictive. Lewis said the figure could easily be changed. He also indicated that exceptions for special events could be included in the ordinance.

"It came to my attention that dropping plastic eggs out of a helicopter is a thing around springtime, and I wouldn't want to interfere with someone's egg drop," Lewis said.

Rezoning Request

The Council also heard a briefing on another rezoning request, which would change 2800 W. 15th St. from Multiple Family 1 to Planned Development-Neighborhood service to allow mixed uses there such a flea market, and retail and wholesale for new and used goods.

COVID Update

Fire Chief Eric Schlotter updated the Council on the local status of the coronavirus pandemic, saying recent infection and hospitalization reports "are not going in the right direction."

Both local hospitals are "very full, very busy," and for the last several days have seen more than 20% of their capacity taken up by COVID-19 patients, Schlotter said. The Texas Department of State Health Services recently informed the region including Bowie County that business and medical restrictions must remain in place until COVID cases made up less than 15% of hospital capacity for seven consecutive days.

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