After almost five hours of fierce debate and public comments Tuesday night, the Lubbock city council remained split over how to zone land for the Lubbock CountyExpo Center.
"Motion carries four to three," Mayor Dan Pope said.
Council members approved the change of zoning for the site of the Expo Center from a Single Family R1 to an Interstate Highway Commercial District IHC. It comes after great opposition from the neighboring communities of Hillcrest Country Club and Lubbock Country Club. There were 237 signatures from 192 households opposing the new zoning.
"Please reject this proposal. We strongly oppose the zoning change. So if you vote tonight, you circumvented a year and a half of work," neighbors said.
The concerns included traffic congestion, noise and odor issues, and property value.
"That's not what I-H-C was designed to do, it's for stripes of land along interstate highways. We're not talking about that. We're talking about something smack dab in the middle of a residential area," Lubbock County citizen said.
"I think it's a little bit of not in my backyard type thing," Mayor Dan Pope said.
Hugo Reed and Associates, Inc. has 134 acres to use and about 102 acres is what is approved for the Expo Center. The rest is up for discussion. Based on the IHC zoning, the additional acreage could include almost anything, like bars, tattoo parlors, and gaming rooms. Some citizens didn't like those options.
"Building the Expo Center on that land absolutely contradicts what the purpose of the zoning code says," Lubbock County citizen said.
The Lubbock State Supported Living Center, which serves intellectually disabled residents is worried about the ease of access to the facility. It wants to make sure essential services won't be interrupted.
"They are fragile and citizens of Lubbock that deserve the protection of the zoning laws," Lubbock County citizen said.
District Six's Latrelle Joy called out the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce after receiving an email that said, "The Lubbock Chamber's vote record allows business leaders to monitor key votes on issues and show appreciation to those City Councilmembers whose votes reflect pro-growth, pro-business positions that the chamber takes."
"This is not the way I conduct business from this dais. I consider this a threat and Mr. Jacobson, I did not appreciate it because everybody else has been positive in their approaches," Councilwoman Latrelle Joy said.
Randy Christian, representing District Five, said it comes down to numbers. He cited the 54,000 voters who approved that location.
"For me to sit here and revoke that and reverse that vote, bothers me and I can't do it," Councilman Randy Christian said.
District One Councilman Juan Chadis didn't want to give up the R1 status and said he hoped the land would become a neighborhood. Councilwoman Sheila Patterson Harris, representing East Lubbock, also considered concerns from citizens.
"When I hear citizens get concerned about the traffic, I too, I'm concerned about the traffic," Councilwoman Sheila Patterson Harris said.
Councilman Jeff Griffith proposed an amendment to the original plan, having a combination of IHC and R1 property. Mayor Dan Pope also toddled with the idea, but ultimately, the original proposal passed.
The second hearing will be at the next regular city council meeting set for March 10.