The El Paso City Plan Commission voted by 4-3 vote Thursday to recommend that City Council approve plans for a new condo subdivision on Crazy Cat mountain.
The roughly 16-acre subdivision called Kern View Estates would cost about $14 million to develop and build.
City Council already approved a slightly different plan in 2010, but developers have since made a few changes.
Kern View Estates would now hold 60 attached single-family condos, more than twice as many as were planned four years ago.
The city received a petition recently with signatures from more than 100 opponents of the subdivision.
“Our neighborhood is low density, and that's a high-density proposal,” said Lee Schwartz, who has lived in the Mission Hills neighborhood more than 30 years. “And our neighborhood has yards and landscaping, and those houses will not. There will be some pocket parks, but it will not. It's a good idea, but it's not in keeping with the two neighborhoods that sandwich that.”
The property owner told ABC-7 that he's planning to leave about 70 percent of the land as open space.
“Zero setback means there may not be space between the individual units, however, as far as the parkway requirements, and the sidewalk, it would adhere to city standards,” said Piedmont Group Managing Partner Ramsey Esper. “The new plan is improved. It allows more open space, and there will be less destruction of the mountain.”
City ordinance requires that the developers preserve the character of the mountain.
Schwartz said she’s worried about how the subdivision will affect their water pressure.
“Fire people go up there, the fire trucks, and they hook into a hydrant where the water pressure is low, they can't fight the fires,” Schwartz said.
“Our highest structure would be below the required minimum to have water line available for sprinkler usage,” Esper said.
Neighbors are also concerned about traffic and safety, if more than 100 additional vehicles navigate their neighborhood regularly.
"It's used a lot,” Schwartz said. “People are walking and running and biking, and adding 120 additional cars going up and down that every day is really concerning to me."
“It would enhance the visibility of the neighborhood,” Esper said. “We want to be in line with the Kern Place and Mission Hills area. We believe in the beauty of the neighborhood and, if anything else, whatever we do would be an improvement in relation to what's there now.”
The City Attorney's office will now have to write an ordinance allowing the developers to build homes sharing walls and with zero space separating the units.
Council isn't expected to vote on that for another four to five weeks.