AT&T has notified the city of West University and the neighbors of its controversial U-verse service facility that it has withdrawn its application to rezone a portion of the property “in a good faith effort to regain the community’s trust.” Still the company will continue to do business from the remainder of the land, which fronts Bellaire Boulevard but abuts residences on Academy and Ruskin streets and is zoned commercial.
In what he described as “extraordinary steps to communicate to our neighbors directly,” AT&T representative Court Koenning wrote Thursday that operations could relaunch by the end of the month at the commercially-zoned loading dock, and that the company will comply with the city’s restrictions including:
•No 18-wheelers inside the walled parking lot or at the loading dock.
Koenning said he would continue to act as an “advocate” for residents to contact with issues — or praise. “Today may mark the end of a contentious chapter in our relationship, but tomorrow begins with an extended hand and an invitation to a partnership,” he wrote. “We hope to show you additional positive steps in the weeks, months and years to come.”
His message was followed with an official letter today (Feb. 8) to the city from Reid Wilson, AT&T’s outside counsel.
At issue was the portion of the property bordering Ruskin — once residential lots that were purchased by AT&T and given a special zoning status for parking. As technology changed and the facility was converted to partial use as a U-verse service center for West U customers, a handful of neighbors complained about noise and traffic and expressed concerns over safety.
The matter worked its way through city staff and residential commissions over the past two years. While a handful of residents used scare tactics about the implications of the rezoning for all of the city, AT&T faltered in communicating and working out a solution, suffering a corporate black eye in West U in the process despite decades at the facility.