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Candidate’s perception of council is misguided

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Recently Town Council candidate Joy Bowen published an opinion article questioning Town Council’s decision-making process.  She cited the number of 5-0 votes as proof that “group think” has overtaken Town Council.  Her accusations are clear, Council’s decisions have been wrong, have not been well thought out, and are not serving the best interests of the residents of Flower Mound.

Ms. Bowen’s comments are incorrect. She is wrong because she does not understand that the vote is simply the last step in the process.  The process includes individual research, questioning, challenging, exploring, and listening.  Residents who have watched this council in action have seen that each of us is engaged.  They have heard us ask questions, watched as we seek answers, and learned as they observed us listen.  We listen to residents, we listen to staff, and we listen to each other. 

Yet in one respect, Ms. Bowen is correct, there are more questions that need to be asked and they need to be asked of her. 

-Which votes should not have been 5-0?
-Which questions were not asked? 
-Whose perspective was not considered? 

What she calls the ‘dismantling of Smart Growth’ was actually a vote to preserve and strengthen the ordinance.  For years we have known that there was going to come a day when school capacity would be an issue.  Anyone who has had a child attend McKamy Middle School has known that the school is crowded.  Even being crowded, LISD had been able to sign off on Smart Growth forms because the specific threshold limits had not yet been exceeded, until this past year. 

When a small project came forward, LISD said there was not capacity at the schools serving this new development.  Yet when the developer asked LISD if the district had capacity to educate the kids who would move into the houses he wanted to build, LISD said yes. 

The issue was that the Town’s Smart Growth form dictated which school the kids would attend.  The Town can do a lot of things, but it cannot dictate to LISD what schools our resident’s kids will attend.  That is a decision our elected officials at LISD make.  Furthermore our Town Attorney advised us that any challenge of a denial based on this component of Smart Growth would be problematic to defend.  When my attorney tells me something is ‘problematic’, I have found it’s generally a good idea to listen.  Not listening tends to become very expensive.

Council voted 5-0 to change this “one section” of the Smart Growth ordinance.  Far from dismantling or weakening the ordinance, this change made the entire ordinance stronger, since no piece of it would be exposed to challenge.  It protects the resident’s without squandering tax dollars.  It continues to maintain close collaboration between the Town and all of the School Districts that educate our kids.  And it fully recognizes the roles and responsibilities of the Town Flower Mound and the ISD’s who serve our residents.

The vote that will have the longest range impact on Flower Mound was taken last fall when council approved Lakeside DFW’s Mixed Use Zoning.  Council reached a unanimous vote only after the project had gone through 13 public hearings with three boards & commissions as well as Town Council.  Hours upon hours of opportunity were provided for residents to share their thoughts, ideas and concerns.  Ms. Bowen chose not to participate in that process, chose not to share her thoughts, ideas or concerns. According to her, she had not yet been awakened.

Now rested, Ms. Bowen raises some vague concerns about residential density.  But that’s OK because there was a discussion about residential density for Mixed Use projects.  In fact the prior council considered it and asked their P&Z to review it.  In the end, they chose to leave it alone.

Perhaps the reason was because the MU ordinance was drafted to purposefully allow flexibility; flexibility to recognize that MU development is different and each project is unique.  An interesting side note is that on many big issues even that council, that was legendary for not agreeing with each other, voted overwhelmingly 5-0. 

The greatest strength of this council is the genuine respect that we have for each other.  We recognize that the days of playing ‘gotcha’ are past.  If we have a question, we ask it.  If we have an idea, we put it on the table, we kick it around, test it out, see if it works, let each other work it and try to improve it, to make it better.

This is the strong, functioning council that the residents of Flower Mound elected.  The only ‘Group Think’ taking place is that the drama has ended, bickering has been replaced by collaboration, and disrespect gave way to respect. 

Residents have witnessed that their voices are heard.  Lakeside has been approved and will break ground in April.  Kroger’s fuel station is open and residents are saving money when they fill their gas tanks.  Restaurants and stores have been announced and opened.  Rest assured, there are many more exciting announcements on the way. Stay Tuned!

Mark Wise
Flower Mound Town Council, Place 3
Flower Mound, TX

 

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