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Will Ordinance Limiting High-Rises Lead to Zoning in Houston?

July 25, 2011

The City of Houston is the largest city in the country without zoning laws, but that doesn’t mean that the city does not have some regulations.  The latest proposed regulation has concerned some of those who would like Houston to remain zoning-free.

From KHOU.com – A proposed ordinance to limit high-rises in certain parts of the city has renewed the debate over zoning.

Houston is the biggest city in the country without zoning laws.

Council members are considering a “high-density ordinance” that would make it much tougher to build structures taller than 75 feet next to single-family homes in residential neighborhoods.

Eight “major activity centers” would be exempt. They are downtown, the Galleria, Greenspoint, the Texas Medical Center, Beltway 8 at Westheimer, the Katy Freeway at Highway 6, the Katy Freeway at Beltway 8, and Greenway Plaza/Upper Kirby.

“It will give a buffer between the neighborhoods and the high-rises,” said councilmember Sue Lovell, who supports the ordinance. “It is to encourage development and at the same time protect neighborhoods.”

Supporters of the ordinance say it does not amount to zoning because it would not spell out what any given property could be used for. The idea is to reduce congestion in residential areas, they say.

But passing the ordinance might be a tall order. Many developers and property rights advocates are lining up to oppose it. They say it will stifle growth and drive builders out of Houston.

“It’s a violation of property rights,” said Barry Klein, the president of the Houston Property Rights Association. “I think it’s a way to bring in zoning and to sidestep the city ordinance that was adopted by the voters in 1994 that requires a city-wide referendum.”

The proposal comes…to read the rest of this story, please click here.

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