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1961 – 2011: The SMARTGrowth Program

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As we navigate the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and bring closure to 2011, I also want wrap up our three-part series celebrating the town’s 50th anniversary.

The first two articles examined Flower Mound’s community vision and the Comprehensive Master Plan. In the third and final installment, I would like to look at the SMARTGrowth Program (strategically managed and responsible town growth) and how it compliments the master plan in preserving and implementing the vision of growth and development for our community that has been in place for the past 50 years.

During the late 1980s and 1990s, Flower Mound experienced residential growth of exponential proportions. Encouraged by a superior quality-of-life, ideal location, low tax-rate, and a reasonable cost-of-living, people moved to Flower Mound from across the Metroplex, Texas and the United States. Identified as one of the fastest growing communities in the United States, Flower Mound increased in population from 15,527 to 50,702 residents, or 226 percent, between 1990 and 2000.

Our community leaders recognized how the influx of residential growth could easily outpace the town’s ability to provide adequate infrastructure and municipal services and began to explore ways in which to lead residential development. As a result, the Town worked with the town attorney and development professionals to enact a series of four regulatory measures designed to protect the health, safety, and welfare of all current Flower Mound residents and ensure they did not bear the costs associated with future development.

On January 11, 1999, the town council adopted the first two regulatory measures which included amendments to the building code and a temporary moratorium on residential building permits. Necessary to provide a cooling-off period, the moratorium was the first component and allowed the town time to research, draft, and implement regulations that would help manage the influx of residential development proposals. The moratorium was lifted approximately one year later in conjunction with the adoption of the third component, the SMARTGrowth Management Plan on Feb. 17, 2000. The Master Plan 2001, the fourth and final component was adopted on March 19, 2001.

The term “smart growth” is a commonly used phrase that can mean different things for different communities. The goals of Flower Mound’s SMARTGrowth Program were to manage both the rate and character of the town’s development, establish and maintain a defined “threshold” level of service that each development must meet, and accommodate reasonable and sustainable development. SMARTGrowth was essentially created in Flower Mound to protect and implement the town’s vision for quality-of-life as defined in the Master Plan.

The SMARTGrowth Plan was drafted to prevent the negative effects of rapid and intense urbanization and protect the town’s open space and unique rural flavor. It manages growth and development in a manner that reduces overcrowding and congestion, prevents overburdened municipal infrastructure, facilities and services, alleviates environmental degradation, resolves conflicts between new and existing development, and works to balance the town’s tax base. By implementing the SMARTGrowth Plan, the town has been able to maintain our tax rate for 20 years.

The original plan consisted of 28 threshold zoning criteria that establish a zoning overlay throughout Flower Mound that evaluate the potential community-wide impacts of a development.  Criteria categories include adequate public infrastructure, adequate public facilities, adequate public services, economic development, fiscal impact, environmental quality, and community character. The threshold criteria link the town’s vision for growth, master plan, zoning regulations, and land use policies during the development process to ensure new commercial or residential projects do not have a negative impact upon the community.

The master plan and SMARTGrowth program provide a development framework for Flower Mound to ensure future growth and development is respective of and integrated with the natural geography of Flower Mound, and adequate educational facilities exist to serve existing and future students. It also provides adequate public infrastructure, facilities, access to park land, and services to serve the demands created by new development without degrading or diminishing service levels to existing development.

SMARTGrowth also protects the fiscal health of the community by fostering a balanced tax base to respond to the service demands of both new and existing development without placing a disproportionate tax burden on homeowners, ensuring new development produces positive results that allow Flower Mound to maintain a tax structure conducive to both home ownership and economic development, and promotes a diversified and regionally competitive economy and business environment.

In summary, the SMARTGrowth program ensures future growth remains consistent with the town’s vision and master plan, and does not occur at the expense of environmental quality, community character, or to the detriment of the quality-of-life current Flower Mound residents enjoy. While the original SMARTGrowth program has been updated since 2000, it still serves the town on a daily basis and must be applied when considering all potential development projects.

As we bring closure to 2011 and the town’s 50th anniversary celebration, it is abundantly clear we must work as hard as ever to protect the vision upon which our community was founded, honor the intent of the master plan, and understand the benefits of implementing Flower Mound’s SMARTGrowth program. The leaders of our community have a history of always considering the needs of the residents above all other priorities.

During my time in office, I have worked to continue along the path they laid before me in working to protect the health, safety, and welfare of those who make our Town such a great place to call home. Thank you for your interest in the town’s vision, master plan, and SMARTGrowth program, and for celebrating this milestone in Flower Mound’s history with me, the town council, and the town staff. We look forward to sharing the next 50 years of Flower Mound with you.

This article is the third and final in a three-part series written to commemorate and bring closure to the year in which we celebrated Flower Mound’s 50th Anniversary and honored the leaders, vision, and principals that have shaped Flower Mound’s history and future.

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