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Citizens Discouraged by Council's Approval of Chandler Zoning Request

by:  Linda Newton

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Dateline Colleyville: August 22, 2001 3:32 PM

Citizens Discouraged by Council's Approval of Chandler Zoning Request

After a lengthy meeting Tuesday night, the Colleyville City Council unanimously approved a request from developer Raman Chandler to rezone the old Nine Acres site on McDonwell School Road.  (Click here for link to previous article)  The request was tabled at the last council meeting after residents from the Caldwell's Creek subdivision requested that the decision be deferred until issues in their neighborhood had been dealt with.  The applicant had submitted a letter also requesting that the item be tabled.  The council voted to remove the item from the table at approximately 10:00 p.m.  The council voted to suspend the rules and allow citizens to speak.  Since the council had already held two public hearings on the issue, they were not legally required to entertain more discussion.

Left to right:  Councilman Hocutt; Councilman Rice; City Secretary, Cynthia Singleton;
 Deputy City Manager, Dianne McWethy and Mayor Donna Arp

Several Caldwell's Creek residents had left the meeting by the time the item was taken off the table.  Steve Magee, Caldwell's Creek homeowner association president was one of those who left the meeting early.  Magee later said the reason that his neighbors did not turn out in force for last night's meeting as they had for the meeting on August 8 was because they "got the picture at the previous meeting.  Magee said in a letter to the mayor and council, "Frankly we did not want to waste our time appealing to a body that you clearly proved is influenced by Chandler."    

Left to right:  City Attorney, Ross Foster; Councilwoman Feldman and Councilwoman Tigue 
(not pictured is Councilman Marlin who was absent)

At the last council meeting opposition to the zoning change came primarily from Caldwell's Creek.  However, since that meeting residents of the Remington Park neighborhood secured 98 signatures of individuals, representing over 50% of their homeowners, who opposed the zoning change as well.  During the first two public hearings Remington Park homeowner association president Bob Putnam spoke in favor of the zoning change.  However, Putnam stated during the discussion last night that Chandler originally approached the homeowner board in January, and that the commercial portion of the zoning change request was not discussed.  According to Putman, their intent was to support a residential buffer area between their subdivision and the commercial zoning on Precinct Line Road.

Remington Park homeowner Jeff Zimmerman has expressed opposition to the zoning from the very beginning and organized a meeting and petition drive in the neighborhood.  Attempts were made to persuade the homeowners' board to reverse their original support of the zoning change but were not successful.  During his comments, Zimmerman directed some of his remarks toward Councilman Joe Hocutt, who voted against the zoning change request during his tenure on P&Z.  However, Hocutt voted along with the rest of the council members present to approve the zoning change.  Following the vote, Zimmerman expressed his disappointment with the council approval, saying "The council seems overly concerned with the Village development on Highway 26.  Everything else takes a back seat.  I think the council underestimates the potential for commercial development in the Precinct Line area.  That is a major corridor that currently carries more traffic than 26."  Zimmerman further stated that he was irritated by the council's condescending attitude during their questions and comments dealing with the zoning.  "Their decision was irresponsible.  The developer was even willing to drop the CC2 portion.  Why did they vote on it?"   

Former Mayor Richard Newton addressed the council telling them he wanted to speak to the issues of leadership and leverage.  He said he opposed the change and felt it was a mistake to link the residential and commercial zonings in the same request.  "The PUD-R request is outside the boundaries of what is allowed in the current PUD-R ordinance" Newton stated, "and by zoning the commercial portion CC2 rather than PUD-C you will be giving up the leverage the council has to develop that entire end of town.  He urged the council to use their leadership to plan commercial development in that area just as they have along Highway 26.  According to Newton, the Precinct Line corridor is essentially undeveloped, unlike 26, and already has a large road with traffic.  By developing a strategy, the entire corridor could be planned.  "If you don't retain leverage to implement a strategy you lose control.  Don't make a short term decision for one individual."

Remington Park resident Cheri Lopez echoed some of Newton's remarks.  She told the council this was a good opportunity to build a presence on the west-end of town.  She thought CC2 was too broad and wanted PUD-C to enforce architectural controls and to portray the same image as Hwy 26.  Judy Helms, also a Remington Park homeowner, told the council she knew when she purchased her home that the land would be developed, but that she had faith in the council to do the right thing.  She asked that the council deny the request, as the P&Z had done three times, and look after Colleyville residents.  Randy Gardner of Remington Park addressed the "western gateway" to the city.  Referencing the high development standards recently mentioned in the city newsletter, The Communicator, Gardner stated "Why are we going the other way?  The property is not aesthetically pleasing now, but let's not jump out of the frying pan into the fire."

Rich Munson spoke in favor of the zoning change.  He felt the residential request was a good idea as a buffer, but commented that there were problems with the suggestion that the commercial piece be designated as PUD-C.  "Give Mr. Chandler the latitude to do this in a way that's going to be the most beneficial for Colleyville" Munson said.

During the developer's presentation Chandler's representative, Chuck Watson, stated that if this was not approved the applicant will have no other option than to develop per the master plan, that being an office complex.  He then asked the council to consider only the Westgate Villas in their vote.  Dick Freeman then played and narrated a 12- minute video of Chandler's existing developments in Colleyville.  Those developments include Highland Meadows, Summertree, Summberbrook, Arbor Estates, Caldwell's Creek and the Villas at Caldwell's Creek.  Chandler began developing residential subdivisions in Colleyville in 1984.  Freeman spoke about Chandler's sense of "beauty and balance, propriety and value" in his developments.  In addressing the drainage issues brought up at the last council meeting by Caldwell's Creek residents, Freeman said Chandler's intent was to fill and grade the pond to create a building site after the downstream drainage has been prepared.   

After the developer presentation, a lengthy discussion by council ensued.  Councilperson Feldman asked Chandler how many lots he would lose if he moved setbacks for the Westgate Villas, a suggestion that had been made by previous speakers.  Chandler replied that at least four lots would be lost, making the venture not economically feasible.  Mayor Donna Arp then asked "are streets considered open space" to which Chandler replied that the unpaved areas of the streets were.  He stated that the computation for open space included the perimeter of the development plus the streets in their entirety less the paved portion.  The unpaved areas of the streets will be designed as a brook and will serve as storm water detention areas.

Following a few more comments and questions by the council, the city attorney, Ross Foster, was asked what options the council had at that point.  Foster indicated that if the applicant wanted the PUD-R and CC2 zonings to be voted on separately, he had two choices.  One would be to withdraw the CC2 zoning and allow a vote on the PUD-R.  Foster pointed out that if a request were withdrawn it would have to be resubmitted and start the entire process over again.  The other option was to allow a vote on each zoning separately.  If either were denied the applicant would have to wait one year before making another request for the same zoning.  Shortly after this explanation by Foster, Councilperson Ginny Tigue moved to approve the ordinance in its original form, both the residential and commercial portions.  Councilman Brad Rice seconded the motion.  After an amendment to the motion by Councilperson Feldman to include provisions in the plat that the purchasers of the villa lots would be made aware of the adjacent commercial zoning, the zoning for both tracts was unanimously passed.   

A tape of this council meeting will be broadcast on your local AT&T channel Thursday evening and again on Monday evening at 6:30 PM both nights.  

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