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June 24, 2017
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Unwanted Apartment Complex built in Richmond

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Some homeowners in Richmond are outraged over a 312-unit apartment complex slated for the entrance of Lakemont, a gated master-planned community currently being developed by a partnership of Friendswood Development Co. and prominent Houston attorney John O'Quinn.

The homeowners, who have unsuccessfully petitioned the Houston Planning Commission to thwart the project, say they were misled into believing the vacant tract at the community's entrance would eventually be occupied by retailers, not apartment-dwellers. Technically platted as commercial, the land can be used for multifamily rental housing, which is considered commercial because it is an income-producing property.

"I feel betrayed," says Lisa Hachicho, one of several core residents organizing the opposition efforts on behalf of about 500 petitioners. "I hadn't had a mortgage in nine years but I begged my husband to move out to the country because I couldn't stand the traffic."

Although located in Richmond, Lakemont -- which sits at the intersection of Mason Road and FM 1093 -- lies within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the City of Houston.

The partnership between O'Quinn and Houston-based Friendswood Development, called Ann Arundel Farms, has contracted to sell the peripheral tract to El Paso-based Verde Apartment Communities, which is known for developing Class A projects in Houston and other parts of the state.

The Richmond complex was designed to stand only two stories tall in an effort to provide privacy to Lakemont residents in single-family homes. The low-density, Class A project would include 25 two-story buildings with apartments ranging from $700 to $1,300 per month.

Some Lakemont homeowners believe the apartment complex will be detrimental to property values and their quality of life -- citing concerns about the potential traffic headaches that could arise from the project.

They also worry that an apartment complex could negatively affect a future bond election for a planned school that would serve the area.

In addition, some Lakemont residents believe potential residents might be deterred from buying homes in the community, which is slated to encompass 2,500 single-family homes and is currently 25 percent complete. Homes in the community sell from the low $130,000s to the $300,000s. Officials from Verde Apartment Communities could not be reached for comment on the situation.

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