COPRUS CHRISTI, Tx — At Tuesday's city council meeting, the mayor and city council approved the first reading of an ordinance that creates the Military Compatibility Area Overlay Districts (MCAOD).
The districts will include areas surrounding Truax Field at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Naval Outlying Landing Field Cabaniss, and Naval Outlying Landing Field Waldron.
The zoning overlay districts will regulate land use, density, noise, light and vertical obstructions. The goal is to prevent encroachment of further development that could negatively impact the Navy's training goals around air fields.
Previously, the city used the Air Installations Compatible Use Zones. It's a study done every ten years, the last being done in 2020, to update the Navy and city about the areas around the air stations. It was a guideline for the city when deciding on zoning projects that came before the planning commission and city council.
The MCAOD will make future land use compatible with Naval Air Station-Corpus Christi's military mission. If the ordinance passes, city staff said the properties within the updated overlay zones will have to come under zoning compliance. They will have a six month grace period.
“And you’re one of those 3,500 property owners and says, oh gosh I'm whatever I am, we’ll allow rezoning without a fee,” Al Raymond said, director of development services with the city.
Several issues were brought up as the vote approached on Tuesday. Notably, the superintendent of Corpus Christi Independent School District (CCISD) wanted the vote delayed. The city hadn't contacted CCISD about approving the overlay zones.
“One of the most important things for all of us to do is to sit down and talk about it," said Superintendent Roland Hernandez. "We haven’t had that opportunity yet. We haven’t been reached out to the district, by anyone with the city.”
Hernandez issued a letter to the city manager asking to delay the vote. His letter also detailed the discrepancy that remains with Mary Carroll High School. CCISD moved the original site of the new Mary Carroll High School to avoid one of these overlay zones. The building was proposed on Saratoga Boulevard and Weber Road. Now this new overlay puts them back in an accident potential zone, as we reported last year. The recently opened school is at Saratoga and Kostoryz Road.
Hernandez is also worried the district and taxpayers won't recoup the money from buying the first plot of land. It too remains in an overlay zone. Hernandez disclosed in his letter the contractor planning to buy the land to build apartments has since ended the contract.
Overlay zones aren't a new concept. You may know them as Accident Potential Zones (APZ). Each airfield has a clear zone where nothing is allowed to be built. They extend at the ends of each runway. Then there is APZ I and APZ II. The Navy encouraged that no structures that support medium to high density of people be built in the APZ I or II. Residential homes are allowed to be developed just spaced out in a particular manner. The changes made from the AICUZ in 2009 and the one now is the APZ now connect in a looping pattern where as before they did not connect.
“Lets say you can do an RS-6 and you have 20 acres and you’re in APZ II," said Raymond giving an example. "Instead of building whatever you would have built in that RS-6, you only can put, I think, 40 homes there now."
According to Raymond there are 3,500 properties around all the navy installations that are not compatible with the zone they fall in. Specifically there are 66 residential properties around Waldron Field.
Another issue to arise was the fact very few people were aware this was happening. Raymond said some mailers went out and public meetings were held in each council district throughout June. However, they were lightly attended. Councilman Roland Barrera expressed his displeasure city staff didn't spend the money to make sure all who may be affected were at least notified.
The second reading of the ordinance will take place on Aug. 16.
Hernandez said he was hoping to be included in any further discussions about the MCAOD.