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Argyle council tables zoning request, nixes comprehensive plan change

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After more than six hours of comments from many of the 125 residents overflowing from the council chambers, Argyle Town Council members voted unanimously early Wednesday to table a request for a planned development zoning change.

The action followed a unanimous vote against a request to amend the town’s Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use Plan to accommodate a higher density on a proposed 235-home subdivision west of U.S. 377.

Council members voted 3-0 in favor of an amendment to the Argyle thoroughfare plan, which called for a north-south route through the subdivision, The Highlands of Argyle, formerly known as the Lakes of Argyle.

The lengthy meeting, which combined both the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Town Council meetings, drew a record crowd as residents flocked to Town Hall Tuesday evening to voice their opinions on the three proposals involving The Highlands of Argyle, a proposed 235-home subdivision west of U.S. 377.

By 2:30 a.m., more than 30 residents remained to await the final council vote, following recommendations by the Planning and Zoning Commission to deny the comprehensive plan and future land use plan as well as the planned development zoning change request. The P&Z recommended approval of the thoroughfare plan amendment.

Kosse Maykus of Hat Creek Development Company asked council members to table the zoning change request to allow the developers time to review their proposal and possibly return with an amended version at a later date. Maykus said they would not come back with what they had previously proposed. “That ship has sailed,” he said.

The project was proposed to include $400,000-$500,000 homes on 10,000-square-foot lots, substantially less than the existing house per 2.5 acres in the land use plan. The project also included 42 acres of open space with an estimated two miles of walking trails, lakes stocked with fish, a north-south road at an estimated $1 million price tag and an about 1,600 trees planted on the site.

Several mentioned the changes to the developer’s proposal, which initially suggested 186 homes, then reduced it to 168 homes before the most recent proposal. Maykus told the council the changes were due to adding more property to the equation as well as reconfiguring the proposal to adequately cover the costs of building the north-south thoroughfare.

Council members echoed concerns brought to them by residents during the three public hearings preceding the final votes.

Kay Teer, Place 2 council member, said the concerns she had included the potential excess traffic the development could bring to the community, the potential traffic tie-up at one end of the proposed north-south corridor and the high density.

“If you come back with another plan with less density I would love to talk to you,” Teer told the developer.

A number of residents voiced concerns that the proposed comprehensive plan changes would affect the rural feel of the community as well as add traffic and tax existing municipal resources. Some spoke in favor of the development, saying it would be good use of property likely to be affected by the nearby railroad.

“We moved here for what Argyle is now,” said Bruce Hermann, a surgeon. “We see this as a big change. If this is what Argyle is going to become, I won’t be recommending people to come here and I won’t be here much longer.”

Renee Massengill echoed the sentiment: “If we keep going like this, there’s going to be growth. Let’s not become Keller, Roanoke or Highland Village.” Her husband, Tim Massengill, suggested council members take their time and “sit back and look at the plan.”

Concerns also arose about the proximity of the proposed homes to an existing well pad site where at least three working wells are located. Town ordinance requires an 800-foot setback unless the property owner signs a waiver allowing a 400-foot setback from a home. According to the proposal, the homes would be about 300 feet from the wells, spurring questions by council and P&Z members about whether adopting the proposal would put the council in conflict with an existing ordinance.

Of the three public hearings, more spoke in favor of the north-south corridor, which they said was desperately needed in the town’s western section.

One resident cautioned council members against sending out the wrong message to other developers. “If denied, I believe other high quality builders will see Argyle as difficult,” said Kevin Theoll.

Gary Frederick said the proposed development on the tract of land across from the town’s post office was better than expected for the site.

“This is better than we hoped to have on the property,” he said. “I expected a patchwork of development.”

A number of council and commission members as well as residents said they liked the look and feel of the proposed development with lots of green space, lakes and trails, they simply wanted fewer houses.

Earlier in the meeting, Place 5 council member Marla Hawkesworth asked Maykus if he could lower the density of the development to one home per acre. He replied, “No.” She asked if he could bring the proposal back with 1.5 homes per acre including the road and other amenities in the proposal and Maykus again replied, “No.”

The developer indicated he was interested in reviewing the many suggestions and coming back to the town council with a different proposal at a later date.

Place 1 Council member Joey Hasty recused himself from voting in the meeting due to a financial conflict with the proposed development. 

Some residents new to Argyle said it was the first time they had visited Town Hall, but felt compelled to speak out on what they believed were sudden changes that could change the flavor of the community.

A non-political group, known as www.ProtectArgyle.org, asked residents to attend the meeting, creating posters to notify residents of the proposed changes to the city’s plans.

Don Ferrill, an attorney who spoke on behalf of the organization, told council members the development proposal and trio of changes to existing plans seemed rushed.

“For people who worked on the plan … it seems like a slap in the face,” he said.

Near the end of public comments, resident Sarah Davee offered a suggestion to the council: “Let’s just take a breath and regroup. Say yes to the developer but no to the density right now.”

The following is a snapshot of action taken at the joint meeting as provided by the Town of Argyle:

*Cross Timbers Community Church SUP Extension – Council unanimously voted to extend the SUP to allow the continued use of five temporary portable buildings to be removed from the property within 30 days of the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy for the renovated classroom portion of the church campus.

*Public Hearing on Tax Rate – The first public hearing on the tax rate was conducted. The second public hearing on the tax rate will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 6 p.m.

*Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use Plan Amendments – The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended denial of the proposed amendment. The Council denied the proposed amendment by a vote of 3 to 0.

*Thoroughfare Plan Amendments – The Planning & Zoning Commission recommended approval of the proposed thoroughfare plan amendments by a vote of 5 to 1. The Council approved the proposed amendment to the thoroughfare plan by a vote of 3 to 0.

*Proposed Zoning Amendment – The Planning & Zoning Commission unanimously recommended denial of the zoning change request. The applicant requested the council table consideration of the zoning change request. The Council unanimously voted to table the zoning change request indefinitely.

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