A residential planned unit development is proposed in the triangular lot shown in the rear of this aerial photo, with a section on the right extending to Chapel Road (bottom).

The Waco City Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday for a development with almost 400 homes on fewer than 40 acres on Chapel Road near Woodgate Intermediate School. But the developer and council members said the development density will come down before final plans are approved.

The development, known as Chapel Heights, would front Chapel Road in the 9800 block next to the Flats on Chapel Apartments and stretch to railroad tracks behind the apartments and an adjacent neighborhood. Woodway city limits start on the other side of the tracks.

Developer Nate Landreth had planned unit development zoning approved on 8 acres in June. On Tuesday, the council approved a 29-acre addition to the PUD, changing the zoning from residential. Landreth said the additional 29 acres became available for him to buy after the PUD process had already started on the initial 8 acres.

Plans call for 26% detached single-family homes, 55% single-family town homes and 19% multi-family town homes, with room for shared spaces and additional amenities. The maximum density now sits at 10.8 units per acre, but final approval hinges on density not exceeding 9 units per acre, officials said.

City Planning Director Clint Peters said higher density is appropriate for parts of the development. A section will directly border apartments, and a section will directly border railroad tracks.

“We felt like because of the nature of that triangular piece and how it’s up against the railroad track, up against some denser uses, we thought the density was appropriate there,” Peters said.

Councilwoman Andrea Barefield said she was unsure about the development’s streets, which include two long, straight streets that end in cul-de-sacs.

Councilman John Kinnaird said he is also concerned about the streets for emergency responses, and about the potential of straining existing sewer and water capacity.

“I don’t think it’s responsible to allow someone to build a house where firetrucks and emergency responders can’t get there in a timely manner,” Kinnaird said.

Peters said the plans meet city requirements for entry points that would allow emergency vehicles into the development, but the street layout likely will change.

“That is one of the things they’re looking at redesigning,” Peters said.

The council will have more opportunities to weigh in on the development, including for the PUD and for the platting of the lots.

The PUD concept plan states the first phase of work could start as early as this year with about 40 single-family lots and construction of entrances on Chapel Road and Chapel View Drive.

“Subsequent residential phases of similar size are planned to be constructed every year or two, as the market dictates,” the plan states.

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