Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Time to read
2 minutes
Read so far

The Overlay District - kind of like America

Posted in:
  • Article Image Alt Text

I absolutely love Washington Avenue! One of the most therapeutic things in my life the first year or two after my husband died was walking from my house to downtown admiring the stately old homes and enjoying the shade the towering trees provided. The sidewalk in front of the former Red Door Bed & Breakfast was lined with beds of fragrant flowers allowing me to literally get out and smell the roses! The last thing I want to see on Washington Avenue is commercial creep - that incremental destruction of Navasota’s proud gateway to its historic downtown.

I came home from the April 11 Navasota city council meeting feeling low in spirit. Ironically, my column for the April 13 edition lamenting how covid has killed or maimed Americans’ desire to work had already been written and submitted when, in an interesting twist of fate, I had to come home and write a news story about quashing one young man’s version of the “American dream” – an ideal referenced in my column.

You see, young Marco Castaneda acting on behalf of Angel’s Car Wash on Washington Avenue at Leon Street, submitted an application to add used car sales to his car wash in Navasota’s Overlay District. The irony wasn’t lost on me that in the same issue I was writing about one business owner who can’t find qualified help and another article about a business owner who wants to expand to provide for his employees and family but his choice of business is at odds with the aesthetic vision for that area.

As I sat there in council chambers watching the controversy and drama of preservation versus a man’s means of support, I was conflicted because I love Washington Avenue as it is. I don’t want car washes, car sales, urgent care centers or any other inappropriate “conditional” or “permitted” uses which might worm their way in.

But at the same time, I was deeply disappointed for this young man who exemplifies exactly what America needs right now – someone not afraid of hard work, someone seeking alternative ways to increase his income on the little plot of land he occupies. Being the coward that I am, however, I was grateful I was writing about it and not the one voting on it.

I appreciated council member Bernie Gessner sharing the history of how the Overlay District zoning came to be but it dawned on me that the Overlay District is kind of like America. We have many who want to be there but when they come, they often have a different vision than what was intended. The Overlay’s creators were trying to preserve something special and unique about Navasota but they didn’t go far enough. Like our founding fathers, they couldn’t possibly foresee and prepare for everything that could come down the pike.

Straddling the fence of preserving Navasota’s charm and encouraging entrepreneurship, I would like to see our Planning and Zoning Commission and city council members consider taking a lesson from America’s guiding documents. Fix what’s broken! Remove those loopholes and oversights so we don’t lift someone else up only to turn around and beat down their spirit and work ethic.

Just like Americans who generations later righted the wrongs and oversights of the founders, revise what is permitted in the Overlay District and relieve our modern day Paul Reveres from continuously having to sound the alarm about commercial creep. Just fix it! After all, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – Henry Ford

The column represents the thoughts and opinions of Connie Clements. Opinion columns are NOT the opinion of the Navasota Examiner. Clements is a freelance reporter for the Navasota Examiner and an award-winning columnist.