Ashby High-Rise Halted
by: Laurie Johnson, November 7, 2007 5:11:00 am
At least a hundred opponents of the Ashby High-Rise sat in on the city council meeting and nearly a dozen of them gave testimony during the public comment period. The message was repeated a number of times that residents in the area near Ashby and Bissonnet believe the 23-story mixed-use development would be detrimental to the neighborhood and have a severe impact on traffic and public safety. Ron Kahanek is president-elect of the Boulevard Oaks Civic Association.
"Let me just say that the past two and a half months have clearly demonstrated what neighborhoods working together can accomplish in a partnership with council."
Residents launched a large-scale fight against the proposed high-rise, aggressively lobbying city hall for an ordinance that would halt the project. Councilmembers delayed a vote on that ordinance for 90 days, to give the city time to tweak the language and make sure it doesn't result in any unintended consequences. Several speakers expressed concern that the 90 day delay would give the developers a window to continue building, an idea that Houston Mayor Bill White quickly responded to.
"My message to the developers and the development community, I've never met these people but it's been in public because I don't do -- I do say in public what I say in private -- which is you'd better stop this thing because I'm going to stop it unless you stop it...(applause)"
Developers Matthew Morgan and Kevin Kirton have already promised in writing to hold off on the Ashby High-Rise. They say the right and fair thing would be for the city to let them continue their project as allowed under current ordinances. But Morgan says they're willing to work with the city on a compromise.
"We're looking forward to the rules being defined so we can meet them. Beyond that, I can't speculate what's going to happen at that point in time. We don't know what final shape or form that ordinance will take."
Morgan says they hope to be invited to participate in the process of creating the ordinance rather than being the purpose or object of it. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.