A new Taco Bell restaurant has been trying to come to Navasota, and it has created a hot button issue among residents. At Monday night’s meeting of Navasota city council, the zoning change for the restaurant was discussed.
The proposed location would put the Taco Bell on the corner of North Post Oak Avenue and Washington, but the property has to be designated as commercial, not residential, before construction could begin. A public hearing about the zoning change was opened to the standing room only city council chamber.
Resident of Lauren Julian, who lives right next door to the proposed Taco Bell site, shared why she believes the Taco Bell should not be put in that location.
“Another issue that we have is traffic. We have a circle drive for a reason…because it is not safe to back up onto Washington Avenue at that location. There is a hill right before Post Oak, and sometimes, people come flying over that hill,” said Julian. “We wait back a little bit from the end of our driveway and make sure its clear before we can exit our driveway. Sometimes, we are waiting there for several minutes for traffic to clear.”
For those speaking against the zoning change, safety, litter and location were among the main issues brought up. Many cited that the location also disrupts the small town feel or the historical homes on Washington Avenue. Residents of Post Oak and the general area spoke against it, as well as the Two Rivers Heritage Foundation.
While numerous residents spoke against the zoning change, some, like James Harris, say it is necessary for Navasota to progress forward.
“I believe we are going in the right direction. Navasota is growing. When you grow, some inconveniences come along with growing. Some change is going to have to come along. If we want to continue to grow, we have got to do this,” Harris said.
In his time speaking, Harris, along with other speaking in favor of the change, cited job creation and future economic development as the pros.
Mayor Bert Miller shared his opinion, alongside other councilman, saying that for the big picture for the city, this is an important step.
“As a council member, I have to look at the big picture. And getting this business further enables Navasota to be on the radar of other services that I think many of you would agree, we would like to have one day,” Miller said.
Council talked for a brief time, as each made their case for and against. Councilman Josh Fultz stated his opposition to the proposed site.
“In my mind, I think it would change the look [of town]. My mother just moved here from Conroe, and she said how excited she was to be in a small community, where every turn was not a fast food restaurant or some kind of quick build,” Fultz said. “What we have is who we are, and I would hate for us to change that.”
In the end, the council voted 3 to 2 in favor of the zoning change, but since it was negatively recommended by the Planning and Zoning commission, the zoning change needed 4 total votes to approve it. Therefore, the request was denied.
Mayor Miller, Councilman Bernie Gessner and Grant Holt voted in favor, while Councilman Geoff Horn and Josh Fultz voted against.