BRENHAM CITY COUNCIL REJECTS SANDY POINT HOUSING RESOLUTION

  

The Brenham City Council has voted in opposition to a previously approved tax-credit home development proposed on Pecan Street.

After over a dozen citizens spoke at today’s (Thursday) meeting to voice their disapproval, and dozens more attended, the council voted 6-1 to reject a resolution supporting Sandy Point Housing, Ltd.’s housing project and to rescind its prior approval of the resolution it voted unanimously in favor of at its meeting February 4th.  Councilmember Clint Kolby was the lone vote in favor of the item.

The proposed Low to Moderate Income (LMI) development was planned to consist of 27 single-family homes located on 9 acres on the north side of Pecan Street, west of Loesch Street and east of Kerr Street.

None of the residents who spoke at the meeting were in favor of the development locating on Pecan Street.  One of those who spoke was Craig Blum, a resident on Yager Drive, who said while he is in support of more single-family homes, he does not believe these will fit that bill.

 

 

Lauren Cox, speaking on behalf of her mother and Pecan Street resident Robin Cox, said she believes housing that is 100 percent rental based should be kept separate from other homes as any other complex or subdivision would be.  She also said these homes seemed to defeat the purpose of low to moderate income housing in general.

 

 

Brian Fathauer, who lives on Pecan Street, said this development de-incentivizes home ownership, and cited data showing that Brenham ranks 9th statewide in the number of subsidized housing units while being 167th in total population.  He also challenged the council to look at projects like these more critically.

 

 

Other residents who spoke cited concerns such as increased traffic and lower property values.  Some citizens agreed that more affordable housing is needed, but others stated there is enough as is.  Many encouraged the city to look further into a residential needs assessment to determine the true need for housing.

Sandy Point Housing, Ltd. developer Emanuel Glockzin, Jr. asks the Brenham City Council to uphold its previously passed resolution granting support for a tax-credit home development on Pecan Street at its meeting Thursday.

Several expressed disbelief in previous claims from Sandy Point Housing developer Emanuel Glockzin, Jr. that the homes would value at $350,000 apiece, with some pointing to self-researched data that showed the homes valued hundreds of thousands of dollars less.  Glockzin stated his previous estimates that the overall development would value at $10 million come from the sale of tax credits, which he said allow the homes—which measure at 2,200 square feet, hold four bedrooms and two bathrooms, and are 85-90 percent brick—to be rented at $1,100 per month.

The resolution came back before the council because the one previously approved did not include required language from Texas government code.  City Manager James Fisher explained that, according to state code, if a city is over two times the per capita number of housing tax credit units, the city’s approval of a resolution granting support for the housing project becomes a “have to.”

The zoning map showcasing the proposed subdivision from Sandy Point Housing, Ltd. on Pecan Street.
(courtesy City of Brenham)

In circumstances where a city is below the two times per capita mark, a city’s resolution of support is used in a scoring matrix by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) to decide whether to grant funding for a project.  According to the 2021 Site Demographics Characteristic Report issued by the TDHCA, Brenham has three times the amount of housing tax credit units per capita than the rest of the state.  Since the city did not approve the resolution, the TDHCA will not grant funding for the project.

Fisher said he has been in contact with the office of State Senator Lois Kolkhorst, who plans to draft legislation putting together provisions to make more information available for residents and cities concerning projects like these.

Brenham Mayor Milton Tate noted before any public comments were made that the city council was first made aware of this development at its meeting earlier this month.  At that time, the council requested that Sandy Point Housing contact the citizens living in the area.  Glockzin said letters were sent out to approximately 60 surrounding property owners, but several in attendance indicated they had never received the letters.

Prior to the meeting, Kolkhorst and State Representative Ben Leman asked the city to show restraint and perform more research on LMI developments before adding more.

Councilmember Keith Herring said he initially showed support for the project because he had received information from the Washington County Chamber of Commerce on median household income and rental properties.  He said there is not much rental property available in the $1,000 per month price range at the square footage proposed by Sandy Point Housing.  He also pointed to past conversations with former Brenham ISD Superintendent Dr. Walter Jackson that revolved around how difficult it was for teachers to find housing.

The proposed plot plan for Sandy Point Housing, Ltd.'s tax-credited subdivision, slated for development on Pecan Street.
(courtesy City of Brenham)

Councilmember Susan Cantey said if she had known the information given by Fisher when first addressing the resolution earlier this month, she would not have considered the development “at all.”

Councilmember Clint Kolby reiterated his support of promoting affordable housing.  He called back to his time working with the Brenham Economic Development Foundation, speaking with businesses that told him their employees could not find housing.  He said these homes are “high quality” and “fit in with the character” of the existing neighborhood around Pecan Street.  He also said he has performed research on the property values of homes adjacent to existing tax-credit developments, and said those homes “have consistently increased in value over the long term.”

Councilmember Andrew Ebel said it was important to make sure local residents are included in this discussion, and said he thought “that’s why we’re at this place today.”

A home built by Sandy Point Housing, Ltd. on Santour Court in College Station. Developer Emanuel Glockzin pointed to these homes as an example of what the proposed homes on Pecan Street might look like.
(courtesy City of Brenham)

Councilmember Adonna Saunders felt the council was misled by the developer on the tax credit process.  She said from the information given last week by Glockzin, she believed that the state would have the final say on the development, not realizing that the council’s approval in this situation would be the deciding factor.  She also believes the city has enough government housing, and that it should be a “stepping stone,” not a long-term option.  She recalled Glockzin saying at the previous meeting that he has had several tenants at Sandy Point Housing’s location on Santour Court in College Station who have lived there since they opened in 2007.

Councilmember Albert Wright said he thought the council “didn’t have all the information” when making its decision on February 4th.  He said affordable housing is a great need in Brenham, but understands the concerns of the community and the need to keep them informed.  He said the city can do more study and “a better job going forward” when considering projects like these.

Cantey said upon motioning to reject the resolution that she wanted this “back to zero as if it never happened.”

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17 Comments

  1. Councilman Kolby is exactly right that there is a shortage of decent affordable workforce housing in town and that that is a limiting factor for economic development here. Also, this is a federal program, so it’d be millions of dollars of outside money coming into town, and it ought to be really hard for anybody that cares about this community to say no to that. I’d have been at this meeting to express my support, but guess what…I had to work instead. Seems that people like me were disenfranchised in favor of a handful of NIMBYs and a lot of retirees. I would like for the City Council to revisit this matter at a time of day when the working citizens of Brenham that are impacted by their decision are able to appear and make their opinions known.

    1. My understanding is that this federal grant money opens this housing up nationally. In other words, it tells everyone there are opening in Brenham, Texas and if they qualify they can come. That means this would do nothing to help you but would be helping people in let’s say Chicago.

  2. I’m not a big church goer, but I have heard from those that do, “God helps those who help themselves”. So don’t try the guilt trip thing. The government has thrown money at the poor and downtrodden for decades, and it hasn’t helped. The only thing that happens is that they become dependent on it. In every society, there will be those who don’t work, cant work, or just like to stay at home and live off the government.
    You get out of life what you put into it.

    1. It’s too bad that the quote you’ve supposedly learned from conversations with “church goers” isn’t even in the Bible. It can be attributed to Benjamin Franklin and may have originated in Greek mythology. Although the Bible doesn’t endorse laziness, Christianity is obsessive about helping those who cannot help themselves.
      Government help is not a long term lifestyle for most recipients, but a temporary bridge from a calamitous event (job loss, medical debt, natural disaster, divorce or abandonment)to eventual self-reliance.
      I hope you have the good fortune never to find yourself in need of housing you can afford and lacking the resources to “help yourself “.

  3. Someone has to just say it. The “concerns” of the neighbors are that non-white people might move in.
    Affordable housing is not the same as the “projects” you are afraid of. And low income isn’t the “welfare Queen” you’re judging. It’s beginning teachers, restaurant, shop workers and receptionists who make more than minimum wage, but can’t find a decent house to rent or buy here in Brenham.
    What a shame that fear trumps love in such a “Christian” community.

  4. Congratulations, Brenham! Your Christian values are on full display. And Jesus said, “seriously, just screw the poor, am I right? They don’t deserve affordable modern housing. Get yours and to Hell with everyone else!” So, Wall Street will continue to be the country’s largest landlord, buying up properties, not maintaining them and charging exorbitant rates on properties they will never lay eyes on themselves, in cities they will never visit. That’ll keep those renters in their place. If they can find roommates to share rent. God forbid we allow a rising tide to lift all ships. If it helps someone else, Brenham says Hell No.

    1. Why is is that attacking someone’s faith (i.e. Christian Values) is ok and allowed. Are we checking church membership at the door of the City Council Chamber and allowing only Christians to oppose things? Have you driven down Pecan Street, it is not exactly filled with mansions? The homes along that street are modest homes purchased by hard working citizens who are legitimately concerned about what will happen to their home values and the places they worked their entire lives to purchase. The name calling, accusations of racism, and denouncing of Christians simply because you disagree with their stance on an issue is wrong and shows just exactly how weak your argument is. If that is the only thing you have to argue, there must not be much substance to your position. Think about it!

      1. Thank You I agree with “Enough” People do not understand that People work hard to Better themselves , to become a Home Owner and take pride in what they have accomplished. We also rely on the fact that one day we will want to sell and we hope that by maintaining our home we will see a profit made , We also struggle to pay the ever growing property taxes on our properties , Which people that rent do not have to worry about It has nothing to do with Our Faith, and all to do with protecting what we have all worked so hard for.

      2. I thought about it! I have a habit of pointing out hypocritical behavior when I see it. Anyone with true Christian values would not feel attacked as you do, because any true Christian wouldn’t so vehemently against a program that would help individuals and the city itself. The audio comments in the story are full of complaints that the homes are “too nice”. This old town is a sad affair. You be glad if you’re not there. It ties your hands, it spikes your drink. I’d say more, but I can’t think.

  5. It is ridiculous, employers have problems getting good workers to move to Brenham because there is no affordable, nice housing. The citizen’s gripe about wanting to town to be a nicer place and then act like snobby brats.

  6. Not saying this should or shouldn’t have been approved, but too many low income rent houses!? Please! I am a hard working mother of three that works 2 basically full time jobs one at a very good company, the other a side job, and it took me over a year to find a place to rent that had more than 2 bedrooms and didn’t smell of smoke. Then could only find a 3/2 when looking for a 4/2, But I can’t even afford the rent where I’m at without help. So while this may not have been the right answer, there definitely needs to be more affordable (not free) housing

  7. How sad. This looked like a nice development. Sure there may be other affordable options in town, but only apartments. Would have been nice to have some affordable homes. Funny that city was unanimously supportive of it, and now a 180. Sad that a handful of neighbors can bring down a development for the greater good of the community. This would not happen to most other types of development. Also is it required for other housing developers to have to send out letters to surrounding neighbors? Smell a fair housing lawsuit coming.

    1. Agreed. The system is designed in such a way that this developer was able to build what would be high end homes in Brenham on large lots and lease them out for under market. Nice homes. low rent. higher tax base. What’s not to like?

  8. Can’t believe it I am so happy See what can be done if we stand up to local city government remember we do live in a democratic society and everyone’s voice needs to be heard

  9. I am very grateful to our Brenham City Council and leadership for listening to concerned citizens regarding this development. It is very reassuring that our voices were heard and thoughtful discussion followed.

  10. And just two blocks west of this, perfectly good single family homes are being bought by investors and turned into airbnb’s. There absolutely IS a need for affordable rent housing in Brenham.

  11. Thank you for not approving this development. Too many low income rent houses. Already too much traffic on Pecan Street. Speeders fender benders

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