Temple Council member Wendell Williams was torn on a proposed permit allowing alcohol sales on a property near a West Adams Avenue neighborhood.
“This is a really difficult situation,” Williams said, after listening to four residents of the Grove at Lakewood Ranch subdivision voiced their opposition to it Thursday.
Beside those homeowners, Williams thought about his 45-minute meeting on Tuesday with other residents at the property, 10354 and 10462 W. Adams Ave.
They told him they did not want a restaurant — which developer John Kiella said will come to his property — so close to their homes because the trees on the land will have to be ripped out, the smell of the eateries will waft over to their homes and the accompanying noise will ruin their tranquil life.
They wanted a bigger buffer — at least 40 feet compared to the proposed 10 feet — between the proposed restaurant and their homes. As for the trees, they wanted them to remain.
None of that will happen.
The City Council unanimously approved a conditional-use permit for the properties, paving the way for a future restaurant to sell alcohol.
“If we attempt to put things on this conditional-use permit that are uneconomical for him, that do not fit what his plans for that site is — all he has to do is pull the application and we can’t do anything or require him to do anything,” Williams said, pointing out Kiella can build a restaurant on his property whenever he wants because he already has the proper zoning.
The permit allows for on-premise alcohol sales of up to 50 percent of the future restaurant’s gross revenue, according to the city of Temple. The Council approved a similar permit for the nearby TrueCore Fitness, 10148 W. Adams Ave., a gym that serves beer and wine to patrons.
The permit requires Kiella to build a 10-foot buffer along the north side of his property — the part that abuts residents’ homes.
“A (conditional-use permit) is the only way to have any kind of input from the city in dealing and working with the developer to try to make it the kind of place they want and you want,” Williams said. “I’m not selling it for you. I’m just telling you how I see it.”
Natasha Harness is one of the residents whose home is adjacent to the properties.
“I just found out they’re building this in my backyard,” Harness said, her voice trembling with emotion and tears beginning to well in her eyes. “It’s pretty upsetting because, one, like (other residents) are saying, the price value of our homes are going to be diminished by this. Not only that, the tree line will be completely gone. I didn’t plant any trees in my backyard because I loved the beauty of what was already there.”
Mayor Tim Davis said the Council frequently hears stories similar to those that the Groves at Lakewood Ranch residents told them.
“People come forward and say, ‘I bought this lot because it had the empty lot behind it,’ or ‘I enjoy watching the butterflies in the field as I do the dishes,’” Davis said. “Ultimately, if it’s an empty piece of land in a growing community — especially on a major thoroughfare — you’re going to get development there.”
The developer, Davis pointed out, could build a project that is more intrusive than what he has proposed. For example, the mayor said the property is zoned for neighborhood services and a 30-foot tall office could be built that would overlook residents’ backyards.