They began arriving about an hour early for the regularly scheduled Planning & Zoning meeting at Flower Mound Town Hall last Monday evening. The meeting began promptly at 6:30 p.m., as a packed house, including several rows of chairs that were set up in the lobby, began hearing from representatives of Children’s Learning Adventure, a 26,000 square foot daycare center planned for development at the northeast corner of FM 3040 and Morris Road.
Residents from Tealwood Oaks, the neighborhood just behind the planned development, were there en masse and prepared to speak out against what they believed would become a traffic and safety nightmare caused by the facility that has a capacity of more than 500 children, which is greater than some of the elementary schools in town. Add to that the fact that about 270 trees would have to be cut down and you have the perfect storm to arouse the ire of a family-oriented town that has been honored with the environmental accolade, “Tree City USA.”
After the applicant spoke, requesting a zoning change on the irregularly-shaped lot, a few representatives of the concerned residents articulated the reasons for their opposition. I’ve seldom seen or heard such well-researched and documented facts and statistics than was presented by those speakers. Initial presenters were followed by many other residents, who took to the microphone to add their comments. They did so with passion, but with respect for the commission members, whose role is to vote on the item before passing it on to the town council for final judgment.
It’s important to point out that the opposition wasn’t limited to homeowners in close proximity to the proposed development. People from other subdivisions in town came out to support their fellow residents. Such a display of solidarity is another hallmark of our town, because it indicates that the people here are not so selfish as to only take a stand when it concerns their singular slice of real estate. Paul Stone, a friend and fellow resident, added his esteemed reputation to the issue when he rose to speak against the project. Carol Kohankie, another prominent name in our town, was similarly opposed and waited patiently for her name to be called so she could weigh in on the inanity of such a development. Speaking of prominent names, former Flower Mound Mayor Melissa Northern also stepped up to the mic to register her dissatisfaction with, among other things, the traffic safety ramifications of the project.
It’s axiomatic that the best areas in which to live are those where people have an abiding interest in the future of their communities, and it’s the main reason why our town is rated so highly in magazines across the state and country as a most desirable place to raise a family. Think about this; if the P & Z had opened their meeting to an empty room, except for the appearance of the applicant, what odds would you give that the proposal would be voted down, as it ultimately was?
The advisory board has many other items coming before it every second week. Commissioners put in many hours studying the items coming up for discussion, and they do it as a public service because, like the Town Council, they don’t get paid. Hence, no matter how much research they did on their own, the chances are pretty good that they’d never have the time to explore all the reasons why such a project should be rejected. This is precisely why it’s so vital for people to be vigilant in their communities and sound the alarm to neighbors when danger looms nearby.
It was evident that P & Z members were impressed with the turnout because, as a few of them told me privately, it was well beyond what they usually encounter. After listening to all the pros and cons, they took a short break before returning with some thoughts about the controversial item. Each member spelled out their reasons for voting no, many of them citing the fact that the applicant had not used due diligence in meeting with the residents of the area to discuss elements of the planned development. The evening was a classic lesson in the way democracy is supposed to work. We can’t have an election to decide every significant issue. But, as long as we have prudent reps who listen to the concerns of their constituents, the system works.
On Thursday, the reps from the childcare center requested a postponement before bringing their case to the Town Council, undoubtedly so they can do some damage control. One can never be certain how the Town Council will vote, so we’ll just have to wait until it comes before them and hope they see it the way the P & Z did.
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor.