The debate is not an entirely new one. It goes back ten or fifteen years.
The Larry Flynt Hustler Club just opened on Commerce. While this was welcomed news for many East Texan casino-goers, it became a talking point amongst much of the congregation at Broadmoor Baptist Church, because at about the same time Broadmoor Baptist Church’s recently proposed expansion was denied. The stretch of land from Youree to Finley between Leo and Atlantic, twelve years later, is still a sore subject for everyone involved. People on both sides of the issue have very strong opinions, and this time around social media and blogs have only served to add fuel to the fire.
Why is the expansion such a hotly contested issue?
Imagine, for a second, that you are a young, newly-wedded couple. You are shopping for your first home. The Broadmoor area has the Leave it to Beaver appeal—the perfectly manicured green yards, white picket fences, and children playing outside. It is in a good school district, and the houses are relatively affordable. So, after much shopping around you settle on a house just behind a neighborhood church. You spend, let’s say, $120,000 on this home. Then, two months later, the neighborhood church submits a proposal to the Zoning Board, which would turn your house into an island a midst a sea of concrete. There are no more perfectly manicured lawns, and the playing children have been replaced by herds of parked cars.
What do you suppose would happen to the property value of that young couple’s new home?
Furthermore, many of the cars that will populate the proposed parking lot are piloted by people commuting into town from gated communities in the suburbs. These commuters can understand the concern of homeowners on Atlantic, Leo, and especially Clingman. I hope that they can sympathize with some of the residents in the area, who, unlike the hypothetical couple in the example above, have lived in that neighborhood for nearly fifty years. Some of the commuters come from neighborhoods where you cannot park your car on the street out in front of your house or leave your boat in the driveway. Surely, homeowners who agree to neighborhood association rules that penalize you for leaving your trash can by the street can sympathize with the Broadmoor residents who are apprehensive about exchanging green space for another gigantic parking lot.
I have no problem with the fact that the church wants to expand.
I believe that Broadmoor Baptist church has the right to expand. They have the right to purchase properties around the church when they become available. However, it seems plain to me that their right to expand does not usurp the right of area homeowners to stay. Since the rights of those homeowners were negotiated prior to the church’s attempts to exercise their right to expand their operations, the church’s proposal should, in my opinion, be tabled until they have purchased enough property that their expansion plan does not immediately affect their neighbors.