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Repeal of CCF zoning ordinance not a good idea

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At the Flower Mound Planning and Zoning Commission meeting this past Monday, July 11, the commission voted to recommend the repeal of the zoning ordinance regarding centralized natural gas production facilities.

The headline sounds like something that most Flower Mound residents would like to see, NO CCF’s in Flower Mound, but it’s not that simple.

During the P&Z meeting, Commissioner Jim Ward asked some good questions about the proposed repeal of Land Development Regulation (LDR) 02-10. Commissioner Ward asked for clarification on what would happen if an applicant wanted to build a centralized facility if and after LDR 02-10 were to be repealed. Ward stated his understanding was the applicant “could not do it, and they would be denied”.

Town attorney Alan Lathrom said there are some other legal issues, but depending on the circumstances or situation they [the applicant] would have to request the use be created in the zoning ordinance for it to be an allowed use as a land use.

Does this legal answer give you comfort or confidence? One primary concern is can the town prohibit a gas utility from locating a facility in the Town and can the Town impose zoning regulations on a centralized facility if the town has no zoning regulations for such a use?

Ask yourself, why does Flower Mound have a centralized facility off Scenic Road today? The centralized facility in Flower Mound was built and operational before LDR 02-10 was approved in January 2010 and the applicant did not have to request the use be created in the zoning ordinance for it to be built.

•    If the zoning ordinance is repealed the additional steps and review by P&Z is eliminated and the added protection of the Specific Use Process (SUP) for zoning is also lost.

•    Since the town council passed LDR 02-10 in January 2010 the Town has not been flooded with applications for Centralized Facilities. There was no moratorium in place for many months. Did the LDR zoning framework within the ordinance prevent an application? The public process is defined and requires public hearings at both P&Z and Town Council and both bodies have the option of rejecting an application.

•    If the “backdoor” rules that are currently proposed for CCF’s in other Flower Mound ordinances are passed will they be as effective as they are in the current Land Development Regulations?

•    Does the absence of a definition or specific use in the zoning ordinance create a false sense of security when considering that Flower Mound got a centralized facility before the 1-20-2010 protections were in place? 

•    Is Flower Mound more protected by removing the zoning ordinance and potentially be forced to defend legal maneuvers when zoning rules were specifically removed in an attempt to prevent centralized facilities in Flower Mound?

The effort to repeal an important and effective protection in our town’s Land Development Regulations does not give me comfort or confidence. The explanation that the protections will be in other ordinances outside the town’s Land Development Regulations seems short-sighted and unwise.

At the end of the day, I believe that most Flower Mound residents do not want more centralized facilities in our town but I fear the result of repealing LDR 02-10 may put Flower Mound directly in the path of getting more of what is not wanted.

The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended repeal of LDR 02-10 and Town Council will now consider repeal at Monday’s council meeting. I feel council should not repeal LDR 02-10 which would leave a hole in our zoning ordinance that can’t be completely filled by other areas of our code of ordinances.

If the Town repeals the zoning/land use standards relative to centralized facilities, the Town could face liabilities.

 

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