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Harker Heights  Killeen Daily Herald | Sunday, February 23, 2014 BUy this photo at Catrina RAwson | Herald Vehicles line the shops of Market Heights in Harker Heights. The city continues to see retail growth that is bringing more sales tax revenue to Harker Heights. Population on the rise in Harker Heights By Vanessa Lynch Killeen Daily Herald HARKER HEIGHTS — As more houses are built in the city limits, Harker Heights’ popula- tion is on the rise. Preparing for the growth is half the battle, and after a decade of discussion, the city late last year adopted the highly scruti- nized Overlay District No. 1 along the Knight’s Way corridor. The population is estimated to grow at the rate of about 600 people every year, said City Man- ager David Mitchell. “Harker Heights has a unique topography which translates , into awesome views many find very attractive,” Mitchell said. “This backdrop along with qual- ity subdivisions, infrastructure, schools, and parks creates a mix that draws home buyers.” In turn, businesses are attract- ed to the ever-growing number of rooftops and the demographics found in Harker Heights, such as household income levels. “ of these qualities together All create the unique place that is Harker Heights,” Mitchell added. BUy this photo at Catrina Rawson | Herald Barbara Bailey plays with her grandson, Judah Isreal, 10 months, while visiting Carl Levin Park on Feb. 8 in Harker Heights. In 2013, 196 single-family residential permits were issued. Overall, the city added 220 residential units when duplex construction is added to single- family residential permits. “We expect a similar year in 2014 to what we witnessed in 2013 in terms of residential growth,” Mitchell said. “The city’s consis- tent residential growth is really a testament to both the quality of development and place that is found in Harker Heights.” The city issued 16 commercial permits in 2013 with a total esti- mated value of $31,088,806. “2013 brought the third largest estimated commercial permit value since 2007,” Mitchell said. “This reflects the desirability of the rooftop growth and demo- graphics found in the city .” Finally given the green light from the City Council, the over- lay was approved Dec. 10, 2013. The overlay will follow a zoning ordinance amendment and set standards for current and future buildings, parking, signage, land- scaping, screening, buffering and street appearance over the next 20 years. “Going forward, this is a huge step for the community said ,” Fred Morris, director of planning and development. Morris and his staff worked on fine-tuning the overlay for the past two years, and although it was approved by the council, Morris said nothing is set in stone and aspects of the plan will be revisited and revised as needed. “You can read all the specs of a brand-new car, but until you sit in it and go for a ride, you don’t know if it’s the right fit for you,” he said. “We can visualize what we want things to look like but until we get something on the ground, we won’t know how the overlay standards will impact the quality and character of future developments.” Unlike flipping a light switch, the changes won’t be instanta- neous. “It will take about 18 to 24 months before we will see a noticeable impact,” Mitchell said. For residential developer Chris Doose of Austin, who built the Verna Lee townhouses and is be- hind the up-and-coming master- planned community the “Enclave at Heights,” the overlay is a huge draw. “We needed an overlay in place so we can continue to attract the type of businesses we want in our community If we don’t . act now, we will have another Rancier Avenue on our hands in the next 20 years,” Mitchell said, referencing the cluttered north Killeen thoroughfare. Now that the overlay is ap- proved, Morris and his staff are going through the city’s code book with a fine-tooth comb, reviewing current ordinances. “The basic structure of what we have in place is 20 years old and has been updated incremen- tally Morris said. “It’s lost its ,” focus of what we are trying to accomplish here. What we have now is ineffective and confusing. In some cases, various sections contradict and cancel each other out.” City adds new programs, services By Vanessa Lynch Killeen Daily Herald HARKER HEIGHTS — City Manager David Mitchell said the city is constantly looking for ways to make life easier for Heights residents and to improve the quality of life by implement- ing new programs and services. Among the city’s biggest ac- complishments to pave the way for future growth and develop- ment was the approval of the Knight’s Way Corridor. The City Council adopted the Knight’s Way Corridor Development Overlay District in December. The district covers areas along Farm-to-Market 2410 from U.S. Highway 190 to the eastern limits of the city . “The goal of the district is to create a corridor that is safe, at- tractive and pedestrian friendly ,” Mitchell said. The Harker Heights Municipal Court is now offering car seat checks for Heights residents. Yahaira Marquez, juvenile case manager, is a national child passenger safety technician. Marquez is trained to check car seats to insure they are installed correctly and to educate citizens on how to use and install a car seat. The Harker Heights Fire De- partment launched a set of free community-based programs over the summer — Fire Wise Com- munities and Ready Set, Go! — to , equip citizens with the skills and knowledge they need to protect their homes and property from wildfire. The Harker Heights Police Department completed its first full year of the Healthy Homes Program. Also in 2013, the de- partment achieved “recognition” from the Texas Police Chiefs Association’s Best Practices Rec- ognition Program. The Stewart C. Meyer Harker Heights Library rolled out sev- eral new programs and services. “First, we are proud to bring attention to our Virtual Library . This site provides a variety of online services that are avail- able 24/7,” said Lisa Youngblood, library director. Library staff also provided an array of programming for adults, including the Holistic Health Fair, yoga sessions, homemade teas and other workshops pro- moting health. “We expanded our early lit- eracy programming to include an Early Literacy Fair, the provision of early literacy materials to children and caregivers, and an early literacy training workshop for caregivers,” Youngblood said. BUy this photo at Jodi Perry | Herald A group of toddlers and their moms participate in a song at the Stewart C. Meyer Harker Heights Library. “We also reached out to various special interest populations by becoming involved in the Central Texas College GeekFest and by providing programming related to popular culture including a Doctor Who 50th Anniversary , a Star Wars reads program, and Friday game nights and cultural events. We also re-instituted the Young Authors and Illustrators Conference.” The Parks and Recreation Department also had a busy year with the expansion of its Super Hero Adaptive Sports program for children between the ages of 5 and 22 with various physical and intellectual disabilities. The program launched its first bowling season in December 2013 with 22 children participating. The City of Harker Heights Equipment Exchange Program also saw some changes. The name may be different, now called the Equipment Exchange Program, but the mission and goals of the program are still the same. The program kicked off in February 2013 and allows for families to donate used ath- letic equipment that is no longer needed. The donated equipment is then offered to families in need. Families who donate equip- ment get first pick of the sports inventory . The ever popular Harker Heights Farmers Market found a new home in front of Seton Medi- cal Center Harker Heights. After a year of having 21 garden plots, the response to the Harker Heights Community garden at Carl Levin Park was so popular that 15 additional plots were added last summer. Currently the garden has 36 , total plots — 24 4-by-8-foot garden beds, eight raised beds, and four Harvest Heights beds. “We still have the Harvest Heights program, which is a pro- gram where we grow fruits and vegetables in four of the garden plots and then donate the harvest to the Harker Heights Food Care Center,” said Sarah Mylcraine, activities specialist.