Approval for a Leander mixed-income development was met with reluctance by residents attending the July 5 City Council meeting.
The Leander City Council unanimously approved rezoning 55 acres west of the Leander Public Library and south along Old Quarry Road. The property is planned for a mixed-income community that includes a senior living apartment unit developed by Merritt Communities, the same company responsible for Leander Station Senior Village on Old FM 2243 near H-E-B Plus.
The land was located outside city limits, but the applicant—Blake Rue on behalf of Margaret Moser and Carolyn S. Meihaus—brought forth the request to coincide with the parcel’s upcoming proposed annexation, which was also approved July 5.
In February, City Council signed a letter of support for the Merritt development. The support allowed developer Colby Dennison to seek millions in federal tax credits to build the mixed-income community. Dennison and Rue are working on the joint venture, Connelly’s Crossing, which features affordable single-family homes, a 100-unit senior living apartment building and a mixed-income family complex.
The first construction phase will include the multifamily project, the primary park within the neighborhood and 26 single-family lots, Rue said.
Leander resident Steve Brand was among multiple audience members who urged the council to delay any action on the project until the council creates a specific blueprint for how it sees Leander developing in the future.
“Table this and come up with a vision for the city first,” he said. “Take a giant step back and figure out where are we going and what are we going to be when we grow up.”
But council members were quick to point out this project has been in the works since January, and any decision regarding its fate was not done so lightly.
“The city took many years planning a master plan or vision for this city,” Councilwoman Andrea Navarrette said. “We take the time to determine what we want and don't want in the city. It's still a learning process.”
Navarrette suggested the city do a better job of disseminating the council's broad vision for Leander.
Leander Mayor Pro Tem David Siebold agreed the project fits the city's long-term objective to create a mixture of residential housing options for prospective new residents. It also adds to the city's tax base, he said.
“When this project first came forward, I thought it was a good idea, poor location, but working with them, I think we came up with a really good overall plan with a lot of options for the city,” he said.
Dennison said during a June 28 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting that construction is expected to begin in September.
In other council news, a request to rezone land at the northwest corner of North Lakeline Boulevard and Osage Road for a gas station was withdrawn. The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously voted down the measure due to safety concerns at its June 28 meeting.