Community residents learn you indeed can 'fight city hall' - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Community residents learn you indeed can 'fight city hall'

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

How many times have you thought about asking the government for help with a problem in your neighborhood? Then, how many times did you roll your eyes saying, ‘as if that would do any good.'

Residents in one Houston community had that thought right up until they heard city council's vote.

"My first thought was, 'Is it really going to make a difference? If I get up there and say something do they really care? Do they care to hear from Monica Schmidt,'" laughs Songwood resident Monica Schmidt who was pleasantly surprised to find out taking a fight to Houston City Council can end in your favor.

You may not know anything about Songwood but many residents who live in the northeast Houston community have never known life without it.

"It doesn't look a lot on the outside to some people but it means a lot to me. I've lived here almost 30 years and before that I had relatives that lived here and I grew up (visiting) at their house," says resident Debbie Wilson.

"I grew up in this neighborhood. My grandparents built the home that I live in now," adds Schmidt.

Songwood residents say they've enjoyed a safe, low crime community for decades. So when a developer decided to put up a low income apartment complex across the street, in front of the area high school homeowners didn't believe that would be a good fit.

"There were a lot of reasons we didn't want the apartment complex. A lot of the streets don't have sidewalks. So it wouldn't be safe for kids trying to walk to school with all of the increased traffic," says Schmidt.

"I think it would have been bad for our property values. There are some concerns about crime around apartment complexes," explains Wilson. So the community came together, sort of. They started calling, emailing and writing letters to city council members and a giant group of just seven residents marched right on over to city hall.

"I thought man that's not a very big group of people," smiles Schmidt. They asked council to help keep the complex out of their community.

"We have 664 homes and if they all could have been there I know they would have", Wilson explains. "We're a blue collar neighborhood. A lot of us just can't take off work. I took a vacation day to go over there," adds Schmidt.

The tiny group of seven residents felt they were taking a stick to a gun fight.

"Very much so," nods Wilson.

It must have been one big stick. City council voted against allowing the low income apartments to be built here. So what was the deciding factor for council members to vote against the project?

"The traffic issues. Making sure there was no cut through traffic in the neighborhood. They came to council to advocate for their neighborhood and they did a great job," says Houston City Council Member James Rodriguez.

"I was very grateful they listened and they sided with the community," Schmidt smiles.

LDG Development is now searching for a new spot to put up that low income apartment complex. Songwood homeowners are grateful it won't be there but the land is still for sale. Residents don't know what they're going to get but they are clearly committed to coming together to keep out any development they believe will not compliment their community.

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