Brownwood City Council members approved on first reading Tuesday a zoning change that would allow a manufacturing business to locate on a nearly 84-acre tract of property off FM 45 is the businesses chooses the Brownwood site.
The business would provide a "significant" number of jobs, Brownwood Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Emily Crawford said.
The L-shaped property is east of Country Club Road and located between the two Kohler plants, council members were told. The council approved on the first reading the rezoning from the current C-1 Local Business District to M-1 Restricted Industrial District.
The property is leased to a prospective business as it "goes through due diligence," Brownwood Industrial Foundation manger Laura Terhune told the council.
Crawford told the council that "this is a prospect. We are hopeful but they are still in the site-selection process."
Because of the company's "specific needs" to highway and rail access, the property is the only site in Brownwood that will work, Crawford said.
Council members heard concern from Betty Qualls, who lives off FM 45 near the property. Qualls said she is concerned that the new business would "be at my front door." Qualls said she is 75 years old and "Daddy always said 'Brownwood needs to grow. But when it comes to your front door … when I wake up in the morning it's going to be different. I don't know how it's going to involve my piece of property. I don't know where I'm standing."
Mayor Stephen Haynes invited Haynes to stop by his law office and discuss her concerns with him.
In other business Tuesday, council members voted 4-1 to execute an "agreement to contribute right-of-way funds" for a Texas Department of Transportation project to widen FM 2524 (Austin Avenue) from Norwood Street — which is just north of the Willis Creek bridge — to Brooks Street.
The 1.1-mile section is currently two lanes. The proposed $5.7 million TxDOT project is the widening of the street to four lanes including sidewalks, pedestrian ramps, water and sewer line replacement and right-of-way acquisition, according to an agenda item briefing sheet.
The city is responsible for 10 percent ($131,217) of the utility adjustments and right-of-way acquisition.
The city will contract for the replacement of the water line and be reimbursed by the state as construction of the water line progresses. The sewer line will be replaced by TxDOT's contractor.
Council member Jerry DeHay cast the "no" vote, saying he's heard from residents who aren't happy that the widened street will be close to their homes. DeHay said it seems that widening the street to four lanes is "just a little bit of overkill." DeHay said he thinks widening the street enough to include a center turn lane would be better.
"TxDOT answers to no one but God, and I'm not sure they answer to him very often," DeHay said.
Construction on the street-widening is expected to begin at the end of next summer, City Engineer Don Hatcher said.