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Rippy Road neighbors, developer to meet Wednesday

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Neighbors off Rippy Road and Direct Development, which is proposing to develop the Highland Court residential project, are expected to meet Wednesday evening.

The meeting at a time and location to be determined follows Flower Mound Town Council’s unanimous approval on Monday to delay action until April 6 on requests for a master plan amendment, rezoning with high density single-family residential uses and an application for the removal of four specimen trees.

Emily Strittmatter, one of the residents off Rippy Road and one of the vocal leaders of the neighborhood group, said several residents immediately reached out to Direct Development about their interest in considering medium density.

David Watson, managing principal of the Dallas-based development company, told the council he sent a letter last Thursday requesting the delay. “We’ve had the opportunity to engage with homeowners and will be meeting with them this Wednesday,” he said.

Several council members thanked both sides for agreeing to meet about the controversial topic of housing density as it relates to the current project. Residents have been vocal before town council and planning and zoning commission meetings for the past six months, asking officials to deny allowing higher density near their homes.

“I encourage both parties to have the conversation,” said councilmember Bryan Webb. “Don’t get caught up in a name or a tag.”

Councilmember Steve Dixon agreed: “I too am encouraged that we have two sides that are willing to get together. … It’s always the golden rule … for all sides to get together.”

Whether both sides agree or agree to disagree, Dixon said the meeting and whatever decisions are made will be beneficial for everyone and the town.

Mayor Tom Hayden asked Doug Powell, executive director of development services for the town, to clarify several issues including whether the project could change if it were sold and bought by someone else after the concept plan was approved. Powell said the concept plan would serve as the guideline by which any building would be allowed.

The property is currently zoned as low density on the western half and professional office to the east, which would allow restaurant, retail or office buildings up to 3 stories in height.

Hayden also asked Powell whether Rippy Road improvements would impact trees and whether trees would be affected if College Parkway was taken through the property from FM 2499. Powell indicated both could impact trees. The Highland Court project currently adds a number of trees to the proposed residential area, is hoping to save most of the specimen trees and not take College Parkway all the way through in order to keep from adding to the traffic load and spurring the widening of Rippy Road, Watson has said.

On March 9, the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended to deny a master plan land use amendment and a rezoning request for the 31-acre residential development off Rippy Road near FM 2499. More than 150 residents appeared at the meeting to voice concerns about the proposed change in density from neighboring lower density neighborhoods to the proposed 5,000-square-foot per single family home density known as SF-5. Residents in the neighborhood have indicated they are concerned about having higher density not only next to their homes but in Flower Mound in general. Opponents were against an earlier proposal for apartments and town homes, citing the need to limit the number of multi-family dwellings in the community since several larger developments had been approved with both. With a revised plan, residents indicated they believed the lot sizes were too small.

Watson has said he has revised the project several times, including as recently as early March, to address neighbors’ concerns. The project now has a total of 137 lots ranging from 3,600 square feet to larger than 7,000 square feet.

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