PORT ARTHUR - Port Arthur city council member Willie Bae Lewis says that he wants to change a city designation to give residents a voice in deciding what would be developed in a vacant lot on 10th Street.
Residents like Willis Washington have lived nearby for over 30 years. His daughter even went to Franklin Elementary School which used to stand on this empty lot. He says he would be opposed to any change.
"As you can see now it's a quiet area. And this neighborhood, we'd like to keep it just like that, a quiet area," Washington said.
Under current city law, the vacant lot was designated for multi-family use back in 1972.
Councilman Lewis says if a developer decided to buy this lot, they could develop a low-income housing community here without the consent of residents.
Lewis wants to change that designation.
"We want the citizens to have input on what goes on this property because they are the taxpayers," Lewis said.
if the designation changes, Washington still would hope that a place to play is untouched.
"I'd like to see it stay the way it is. They got kids that used to go play, a little football team would practice over there and no one would mess with them. We just like a quiet neighborhood, that's the bottom line," Washington said.
Lewis says that he is working with the school district and other city officials to change the designation.
“With the multi-family designation, they can put anything they want here and the residents would have no say so,” Lewis said.
“But if Dr. Porterie with the [Port Arthur] school board, if they request to change the designation here to planning development or multi-family with a special use permit, that would trigger public hearings so that way the residents in the area would have a say so in what goes on here,” Lewis said.
Lewis says there are no current plans to develop the vacant lot.
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