Pearland: Age-in-Place Development Pending Before City Council
Feature Illustration (above): Concept elevation of residential development in R. West Development Company’s French Quarter.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Pearland (Brazoria County) — City Council will consider on Monday, July 8, a zoning vote on first reading for an “age-in-place” residential development with assisted living services that is being proposed by R. West Development Company.
The project was first introduced to the city as a concept during a December workshop and city officials have been in talks with R. West ever since. During a June 17 joint session of the City Council and the Planning & Zoning Commission, R. West’s project manager, Justin Barnett made his pitch for the preferred concept.
R. West wants to produce something similar to the Woodhaven Village senior living community in Conroe.
R. West calls its project The French Quarter, and the company is proposing a controlled-access gated community with 90-unit independent living complex, a 63-unit assisted living facility, and a 28-unit memory care facility. Beside this would be 147 age-restricted single family residential lots that would be sold to buyers aged 55 and over. R. West has not yet selected a builder for the single family homes, Barnett said.
Amenities are to include a clubhouse available to residents in all components of The French Quarter, and it will have a community pool, recreational facility, theater, private party hosting space, and outdoor grilling cabana.
In addition–and also available to all residents–there will be lake amenities with fountains and benches, walking trails throughout the development, two dining rooms with an option for take-out meals, direct care staff, on-site locations for physical therapy and doctor visits, van transport for off-site needs, a dog park, open spaces, and a hair/nail salon.
The project site, 3900 block of Pearland Parkway, has two types of zoning, Medium Density Residential to the north and Light Industrial to the south. R. West wants to convert this to an all residential planned development.
Boundaries of the proposed French Quarter “age-in-place” development. Google map with inlaid R. West Development Company site plan.
Renee W. McGuire, president of R. West Development, chose a 62.4-acre location that is within walking distance of a day care center of Forgotten Angels Foundation, a social service charity that McGuire founded. Her hope is that seniors moving to the “age-in-place” community will give back to the community by getting involved in volunteer activities to the benefit of Pearland’s less fortunate, such as homeless children, women harmed by domestic violence and drug addicts.
McGuire said she has built some 3,000 residential lots across the city, but this project is especially dear to her.
“This is kind of going to be my legacy that will impact all of Pearland. I want to encourage these people who are retired to put something back into the community. We desperately need mentors. There are so many people that are hurting,” West told the council.
City staff, however, was critical of the project for a number of reasons. Much of the site is located in an industrial zone, which is one reason R. West is going before City Council. The two- and three-story facilities that will house those in assisted living and memory care will be between two utility easements used by energy companies convey natural gas pipelines. R. West also asked for several variances that affect site development, including raising the maximum height for multifamily construction from 35 to 45 feet.
Referring to the variances, Councilman Trent Perez expressed concern about R. West’s requests to reduce lot sizes, setbacks and sidewalks.
“I think it’s a lot to swallow. I think on its merits the development will work, but we’re going to have to reduce the number of variances. You’re just obliterating the UDC (Unified Development Code) and trying to come up with something different,” Perez said.
Following the joint June 17 session, the Planning & Zoning Commission revisited the project to take a vote. The project made it through on a 4-2 vote, but the commission chairman, Daniel Tunstall, was against the project because of the pipelines.
He noted the buildings would be at the minimum distance requested by pipeline owners, ConocoPhillips and Kinder Morgan. But the pipeline easements is closer to the building that 50 feet and it’s possible that other energy companies will install new lines that are closer than 50 feet.
When another planning commissioner suggested energy companies wouldn’t do that, Tunstall gave her a lesson on energy company and developer practices of the past.
“Dixie Woods (an east Pearland development) did something that some subdivision (developers) don’t do. They ran the pipelines through people’s back yards. If you look at the satellite images of that subdivision , you will see people have structures on top of those pipelines,” Tunstall said.
“All the older subdivisions further to the northeast, they have them running through people’s backyards, too. We just don’t do that … anymore. This city hasn’t dealt with it. I’ve got emails going back to 2013 bringing this up. We’ve yet to even look at the UDC section as it pertains to pipelines and do anything about it.”
Tunstall recalled a 1978 neighborhood pipeline explosion in Pearland that killed several people and noted other high-pressure pipeline failures in town that could have resulted in injuries. He said he couldn’t live with himself if he voted for a project that later caused a death at an assisted living facility and voted against the project.
Close-up of the north end of the proposed French Quarter. The assisted living/memory care quarters in blue are adjacent to the easement for pipelines (yellow). Courtesy: R West Development.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.