Richmond residents fight plan to build distribution center near their homes

Some residents in Richmond are breathing a cautious 'sigh of relief' after slowing a project they say would have harmed their neighborhood. But they expect the fight is not over.

For anyone who's spent time living around Houston, there should be little surprise that a vacant piece of land is attractive to developers. That's exactly what's happening along the Southwest Freeway, near Williams Way Blvd.


In the Del Webb Sweetgrass community, Saundra Salter spends a lot of time in her backyard with her flower garden. She moved to the 55+ development to be around like-minded neighbors, and not the warehouse and distribution center that's been proposed for the other side of her fence. 

Neighbors first learned of the project in early April. 

"My backyard will not be the same," says Salter. "I will not be able to come out here and (nurture) the birds and the butterflies that I do for the neighborhood."


Bruce Gilman is the HOA president leading the fight against the proposed Williams Ranch Business Park, "It didn't bring any value and that was the issue."

The proposed project would sit on 73 acres, nestled between two residential neighborhoods and the Southwest Freeway. Critics don't imagine any good coming from it. 

"Huge numbers of trucks, 24 hours a day, diesel fuel fumes, and heavy lights shining into the adjoining neighborhoods," complains Gilman.


Concerned residents showed up in force at meetings for the Richmond zoning board and city commission. Both bodies denied efforts to move the project forward. 

In a statement, a city spokesperson says, "The City of Richmond will continue to use their Comprehensive Master Plan as a guide for smart growth and provide safe, secure, and family oriented communities."

Indeed, the property is designated for general commercial development, which focuses on retail, entertainment, office, and restaurant space. Assuming development is inevitable, neighbors just ask that it be useful to those around it. 

"This would be more than acceptable. As a matter of fact, it would be beneficial," says Gilman. "But having a heavy industrial park, with trucks running 24/7, with heavy lights and noise, is not acceptable."

The developer did not respond to a call from FOX 26 for comment. Neighbors say they know money and effort has been spent to design the distribution center, and say they're prepared to mobilize if and when another effort comes to build it in their backyard.