HOUSTON-Robert Griggs has built seven Tweety motels around Houston, without nary a stir. Now, residents of an upscale community are up in arms over his plans for the eighth location. Griggs, who has sold six of his seven motels, says he has no plans to halt construction on his latest project, a 30-unit structure at 11014 W. Sam Houston Parkway.

Meanwhile, the city says it can’t stop him. He has all of the necessary permits in hand and the plans meet city codes. “Once that happens, the city can do nothing to stop it,” says James Young, the mayor’s spokesman.

A planning department official emphasizes the city isn’t empowered to dictate “what can be put on a property.” Griggs already has downsized his motel plans from two stories to one to placate irate neighbors.

Griggs’ motel ventures are tailored to truckers, who need to sleep at all hours. That, he says, is why he charges hourly rates of $12 or two hours for $18. That hourly rate is at the crux of the opposition from Glenshire and Braeburn Valley West property owners, whose homes range upward of $100,000.

“We are concerned about the integrity of our neighborhood that has been established for 25 years,” Anna Ziegler, vice president of the Glenshire organization, told city council at a recent meeting. “People are afraid the motel being so close, and possibly an hourly establishment, could draw an undesirable clientele.”

Griggs says he chooses built-in locations near heavily traveled truck routes. None of the locations are near a known red-light district. “They own hundred-thousand dollar homes there, but they wouldn’t let me own a small motel and do a legitimate business,” he says, hinting the opposition may be racially motivated.

Real estate people, like Houston’s citizens, are split on the issue of “no zoning,” which is the cause of the controversy. Some say it leaves property values at risk. Others say it reflects the individualism and freewheeling culture while promoting boom times for the city and its real estate.

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