Wednesday, 8/4/2020 | : : UTC-5
Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

City Rejects Plans for Educational Ranch

City Rejects Plans for Educational Ranch

Sara Escobar

Evening Star

Last week during a City Council meeting, plans to renovate a farm into an educational ranch for children was rejected for a second time. The Council voted 3-2 in favor of the proposition, but the measure still failed because it required a super-majority of 4-1 or 5-0.

Slice of Heaven Farms, located at Oakridge Boulevard and Mesa Oaks Circle in Harker Heights, was looking to obtain a special permit that would allow them to turn their ranch into an educational facility that would teach children how to work with animals, ride horses and other agricultural practices. Teresa Anderson, founder of Slice of Heaven Farms, was the head applicant for the permit change, though her business associate Leeann Boore accompanied Anderson to the meeting. The pair tried to obtain the same permit in April, but were denied by the council.

According to city procedure, when any change like this is proposed, it is standard to notify all residents within 400 feet of the property. Director of Planning and Development, Joseph Molis, says 28 notices were sent out, but they received an unexpected 90 in return. Of the original 28 notices sent out, only four recommended approval. An additional 29 notices were sent in from the Harker Heights city limits, with another 25 from outside the city.

“We created Slice of Heaven Farms as a place where families can enjoy outdoor farm life, such as gardening and interacting with farm animals.” Said Anderson at the meeting. Citizens from both sides of the fence attended the meeting to express their concern and support.

Many citizens who oppose the idea believe it would work better at another location. Barbara Karr, who lives directly across from the farm property, is a prime example of this opposition. “I oppose it because it is for business use of a residential property. I don’t oppose the idea, but the location.”

John Sabo said, “I live in front of the proposed parking area and when I bought my home, it was not for there to be a farm next to it. I’m against any kind of commercial use for this property.”

Had the permit been approved, no permanent buildings would have been built — only a parking area. Farm owners say even the parking area would be gravel and would keep the area’s rustic feel. But, neighbors still argued against it because they opposed the extra traffic.

However, supporters of the educational ranch said it would have helped children understand their community.
“Too many kids now live in the city and don’t understand anything about where food comes from or anything about animals really other than what they see on TV,” said neighbor Paul Russell-White, who supported the plan. It is clear that while some neighbors worried that having a business in their neighborhood would have negative consequences, others believe an educational farm was a good idea.

Unfortunately, the motion failed despite its 3-2 in favor, because it was not a super-majority vote of 4-1, which is required.

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