Neighbors Oppose Harlingen (TX) Fire Station

Fearing impacts on property values, quality of life, noise levels, and further nonresidential development, neighbors of the proposed new fire station on the west side are opposed to the plan.

But that didn’t stop the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission’s vote yesterday to recommend to the City Commission approval of the request for a specific-use permit that will allow building in a nondesignated zoning district at Brennaman and Stuart Place roads.

The city’s plan and purchase of the property to house the new station without input was typical of “ready, aim, fire!” opponent Dr. David A. Woolweaver said yesterday after the P&Z commission’s vote.

The property consists of 6.09 acres of land, and it is between Business 83 and the expressway.

The city purchased the property in February from Elizabeth Kercher Diehl for just under $240,000.

The cost for the fire station is estimated at $1.6 million, and it will be funded from a nearly $22 million bond issue voters approved in 2003 for street and drainage improvements and a fire station.

Surrounding properties are zoned single-family residential to the north and east, and not designated to the west and south. The city has said land uses include single family residential and agricultural.

P&Z Commission Chair Tre Peacock, a contractor, and Commissioner Meg Jorn, whose architectural firm Megamorphosis Inc. was selected by the City Commission in late March to design the project, removed themselves from deliberations and did not take part in discussions or the vote.

Woolweaver had wanted to express his views last night, but City Attorney Richard Bilbie said a public hearing was not on the agenda, already had been held, lasted for more than an hour, and had been very adequate.

The P&Z held that public hearing June 10. Minutes reflect Woolweaver said little notice had been provided, the area is residential and placing a commercial entity there is not the right thing to do, the closest fire station on Dixieland Road is only four minutes away, and there are other properties the city could purchase at a much lower cost.

At the public hearing, Fire Chief Rogelio “Roy” Rubio said the west area is experiencing growth, other properties were much more expensive and the tracts of land are larger.

He also was quick to respond to other previous concerns brought up by neighbors.

He said the fire station will look like a house and it is difficult to maneuver a fire truck on narrow roads. The use of horns and sirens are restricted from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. until the fire truck arrives at a major corridor, which is Business 83 or Expressway 83. He also added every minute counts when responding to an emergency.

If constructed on the planned site, Jack Chapman would live across the street from the fire station.

“You are violating the covenant that the city and I have as to protection from unwanted noise, commercialism, retail, light industry and heavy industry,” Chapman wrote to the City Commission on March 30.

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