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What’s Happening in Copper Canyon – February 2015

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Copper Canyon Mayor Sue Tejml
Copper Canyon Mayor Sue Tejml

Decade old Master Plan for FM 407 Town Center Re-evaluated

The Master Plan for Copper Canyon’s FM 407 Town Center was created over a decade ago.  At that time, it was anticipated that the 160-acre to possibly 200-acre Town Center would develop primarily as retail/commercial.  (Only 25 acres, one-sixth to one-eighth of the 160-200 acres, were designated only on the south side as possibly residential.)  But in the interim 10 years, there have been no serious inquiries by retail/commercial developers for any of the Town Center acreage.

So, last summer the Council determined that it was time for an up-to-date re-evaluation of our proposed Town Center’s realistic prospects for development.  Greg Last, planner for Southlake for 22 years, was retained to do just that.  Mr. Last presented a new Concept Plan for the Town Center at the January 12th Joint Meeting of the Council and P&Z.  He recommended that this Concept Plan be used as a general guide to possible development, but not adopted exactly as presented. Basically, his conclusion was that the future Town Center would be predominantly residential, with a small contingent of Retail/Garden Offices adjacent to FM 407. This evaluation was not what the Town had originally contemplated for the area.

Last also said that in the future there “might” be some retail/commercial development west of Copper Canyon Road and across from Lantana’s CVS complex.  But planner Last cautioned that the entry to this area would need to be north of the northeast corner of the intersection of FM 407 and Copper Canyon Road.  That northeast corner has serious topography challenges due to the extreme drop in elevation and the need to not block drainage from Double Oak to continue to proceed north.

Last said that, in his professional opinion, the Town Center had two major drawbacks to being a predominantly retail-commercial development.

First, Location. Location is one of the primary determinants for any retail-commercial development.

(a)    Mid-Block Location: Copper Canyon’s FM 407 strip is “between” two major FM 407 retail-commercial developments – the highly developed intersection of FM 407 and FM 2499 (WalMart, Shops of Highland Village, Lowe’s, Target) and the currently developing intersection of FM 407 and the Lantana curve (Kroger, banks, restaurants, etc.).  “Mid-block” is NOT a desirable retail/commercial location.

(b)    No Major Intersection: Our Town Center has no major north-south intersecting road with FM 407.  And, none is likely to develop in the future.  (As traffic bearing arteries, both Copper Canyon Road and Jernigan Road basically “dead end” into FM 407.)

Second:  Limited Wastewater (i.e. sewer) Retail/commercial development must have wastewater.  Copper Canyon’s is limited by contract to 400,000 mgd per day by its supplier – and an increase to that amount is not available.

In general both Council Members and P&Z Commissioners were appreciative of the thoughtfulness of planner Last’s Concept Plan.  They appeared to endorse the idea of buffering existing homeowners’ backyards (Estates of Copper Canyon and in Double Oak) with larger adjacent residential lot sizes in our Town Center.  Both Council and P&Z appreciated the “green space” Last had provided, but also suggested even more “green space” be required in the Town Center.  “Green Space” provides the spaciousness and “rural feeling” that our Copper Canyon residents so cherish.

High Density Residential Areas proposed by two Developers for Town Center.
Both developers are sponsored by a family owning and wanting to sell their relevant acreage in the Town Center.

At the January 26th joint meeting of Council and P&Z, two developers (both sponsored by the family owning the relevant acreage in the Town Center) proposed high density residential developments for the Town Center.  Proposed width of home lots were 80’ wide, 70’ wide, 60’ wide, and even just 50’ wide for a proposed Over-55 Age Restricted Development.  Both possible developers would be subject to any standards P&Z and Council may approve in the near future for required “green space” or larger minimum lot sizes or lesser density of proposed homes.

North Side of FM 407

On the north side of FM 407, one developer proposed 85 home sites on 28 acres immediately to the west of our Estates of Copper Canyon residential subdivision.

The Estates of Copper Canyon, an almost 20-year-old subdivision, currently has 35 Copper Canyon home owners on one-acre residential lots.  Twenty plus residents of the Estates of Copper Canyon came in person and by petition to Town Hall to ask for no more than half-acre to third-acre home sites backing up to their existing one-acre home sites.  Actually, planner Greg Last had suggested just this sort of medium-size lot buffering to our current residents in the Estates of Copper Canyon.  Both the Council and P&Z Commissioners also appeared to be receptive to this buffering proposal between current and future home sites in our Town.

South Side of FM 407

The same developer proposed 190 home sites on 55 acres south of FM 407, and backing up to existing one acre homes in Double Oak.

The second developer has proposed an Over Age-55 Restricted Development with 4.62 homes per acre on 33-plus acres or 162 homes total.  (Visualize each one-acre home site in the Woodlands and along Rolling Acres Drive with 4.62 homes replacing the one home on those one acre lots now.)

Mayor Mike Donnelly of Double Oak has been attending our Council Meetings and keeping his residents informed.  Mayor Donnelly asked for a Good Neighbor policy that respects the privacy of existing Double Oak one-acre homeowners’ backyards.  These backyards would be adjacent to both developers’ proposed high density residential areas in Copper Canyon.

Over Age-55 Restricted Developments

The major issues here are threefold:

(1)     Density of homes per acre and minimum space between the homes
(2)     Percentage of “green space” required in the development as a whole
(3)     Amenities provided

Because of the density of homes customary in an age-restricted development, it is often difficult for a developer to not “clear cut” most of the development site.  For mature trees to survive, they need no soil coverage or no disturbance of their roots out to a certain perimeter distance from their trunk. This proposed development is zero-lot line on one side of the home and only 8 feet between the homes on the other side.  Backyards are minimal in space and usually used to accommodate air-conditioning units.

But an increase of the percentage of “green space” could definitely ameliorate this issue of tree loss.  However, increased “green space” inevitably means a lesser number of lots for development.

At present, Copper Canyon has fewer than 500 homes in Town.  The two Developers propose an additional 437 home sites on FM 407 – or almost double our current number of homes in Town.

At present, Copper Canyon has fewer than 500 homes in Town.  To put the proposed residential density in perspective:  North of FM 407 – 85 home sites proposed on 28 acres; south of FM 407 –  162 age-restricted home sites proposed on 33 acres and 190 home sites proposed on the adjacent 55 acres.  Total proposal by the two developers is 437 home sites along FM 407 – in comparison to less than 500 homes on minimum one-acre-plus lots in our Town now.

Council and P&Z may vote on Some Issues at Joint Meeting February 23rd

Council and P&Z have twice met jointly to discuss the future of our Town Center on FM 407.  No action was proposed at the prior meetings, so that neither governmental body would feel pressured to make a hasty decision.  But Council and P&Z may take some action at the February 23rd, Monday 7 p.m. meeting at Town Hall.  Or, Council and P&Z may postpone action to a later date. The required public notices will have been posted for some action on February 23rd or postponement of action to a later date.  Issues for consideration, for the Town Center only, are:

(1)    Residential Lots:
a) Minimum lot size, maximum lot density per acre, or combination of both.
b) Required setbacks for homes on lots – front, back, and side setbacks.

(2)    “Green Space”:
a) Minimum percentage of “green space” per development area.
b) Clear definition of what qualifies as “green space”.

(3)     Minimum width of paved surface for vehicles between curbs:
a) This is an important safety feature to ensure that emergency vehicles (fire engines and ambulances) can easily pass between vehicles parked on opposite sides of the street.

(4)     Over-55 Age Restricted Single Family Residential Developments:
a) Whether to allow “age-restricted” developments generally in the
Town Center.
b) And if allowed, any pertinent legal requirements or restrictions.

Input from Town Residents is Important!

Council and P&Z would appreciate your taking the time to give your input.  We are at a crossroads as to our Town’s future via the Town Center on FM 407.  You are always welcome to come to meetings at Town Hall and express your recommendations in person.  But, if your time is pressed for whatever reasons, please take a few moments to send your comments and evaluations via email to TownAdminstrator@coppercanyon-tx.org or to suecoppercanyon@aol.com.  Please give your name and home address in town.  (Though we respect the input from neighbors outside Copper Canyon and relevant developers, persons living in Copper Canyon are the ones most impacted by any future development.)  All emails will be available to Council and P&Z.

The timely input of suggestions from homeowners in Copper Canyon will be much appreciated by me, our Council Members, and our P&Z Commissioners!

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