ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – City officials made clarifications Wednesday, days after residents expressed disinterest towards a rezoning proposal. The proposal included turning 15 acres of South Abilene land plots into dense housing units.

Typically, platted lots in Abilene begin at 60 by 100 square feet. However, these smaller 50×100 square foot lots will create more housing in the same amount of space, not uncommon in the real estate market, explained Coldwell Bank realtor CJ Chaney.

“With the lower cost for the builder, they can then pass that lower cost onto the purchaser,” Chaney said.

It makes sense. The smaller lot means fewer building supplies and a fraction of the work time, resulting in more cost-effective single-family residential units in the potential neighborhood.

While prices in Abilene remain substantially cheaper than other cities of the same size, Chaney said it’s the convenience of these new homes that is a huge draw for new home buyers.

“One of the things that I’ve seen; a lot of people are looking for smaller lots because they want less that they have to take care of,” Chaney said. “That’s the easiest thing, there’s just one less project for home owners to have to do.” 

Affordable housing, convenience included, and the bevy of large city amenities found in Abilene creates a perfect spot for new home buyers to settle. Between the booming growth of Downtown Abilene and the four universities, the city is ready and preparing for that type of growth.

However, in the case of these new, dense housing developments, that convenience comes at a price and can be seen in similarly sized lots across Abilene.

For instance, some housing developments off Antilley Road have single-family residential and patio homes with smaller lot sizes.

KTAB/KRBC visited one neighborhood where the lot sizes are comparable to the proposed development, measuring the distance between two neighboring homes. We found the two homes were separated by 57.5 inches, just shy of five feet.

Director of Planning and Development for the City of Abilene, Timothy Littlejohn, wanted to clarify some of the concerns residents brought up at the Planning and Zoning Committee meeting a week earlier, the first proposal for the new development.

“When they go through the planning process and go through the development review committee, it will trigger some right of ways,” Littlejohn said. “Meaning, some street improvements, per se, as well as extensions of water and sewer lines will help with the traffic concerns.”

Littlejohn continued on to say, if approved, those repairs and concerns for surrounding streets will be in the hands of the developer, not the city.

While concerns were raised during and after the meeting, Littlejohn said he believes the addition of new, condensed developments like this one can bring a lot of positive elements to the City of Abilene.

“There is a high desire for new homes in this area,” Littlejohn said. “Plus, it is going to help clean up that area that’s been vacant for many, many years.”

However, during the July 5 meeting, the Abilene Planning and Zoning Committee denied the first proposal for the new development. If the developer’s wish to continue pursuing the smaller lot neighborhoods, they are required to submit an appeal to City Council, no later than 10 days after the denial. If an appeal is submitted before July 15, City Council can then approve or deny that appeal. If denied, the developers must wait a full year until proposing their development again. If approved, the developers will go before City Council again in late July, hoping for a green light to begin building.