HARKER HEIGHTS - Harker Heights City Council voted 3-2 in favor of turning a local ranch into an educational farm, but the measure still failed because it required a super-majority of 4-1 or 5-0.
The resistance was driven by owners of more than 20-percent of the surrounding land, within 200 feet of the farm, who told council they were against the zoning change that would have allowed the ranch's owners to offer opportunities for children to experience farm life. The farm's owners said their farm would have taught children to work with animals, ride horses and grow food.
Slice of Heaven Farms was seeking a special permit that would have re-zoned it as a business to allow for those activities. The permit was denied once before in a 3-1 vote against the project in April.
If 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.
"You are talking about a 100 by 200 parking lot that's going to be put there," neighbor Patrick Kerr recently told Channel 6 while explaining his opposition. "Yeah, they're going to have to landscape it. When I asked the city fathers what the landscaping is going to be so i don't have to...they said about twenty four inches, 30 inches tall. How does that hide a bus?"'
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," neighbor Paul Russell-White, who supported the plan, recently told Channel 6.
The ranch is located at Oakridge Boulevard and Mesa Oaks Circle in Harker Heights.
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