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Highland Court on Flower Mound council agenda Monday

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Highland Court returns before Flower Mound Town Council Monday with a new plan sporting 97 homes on larger lots and a 1.6-acre park. The proposal follows two meetings with residents in neighborhoods off Rippy Road – some who favor the changes and others who do not.

The neighborhood meetings followed suggestions by Town Council for the developer and residents to meet in an attempt to come up with a plan on which they could agree. And according to a survey of residents in Pecan Meadows and Pecan Acres, more than 70 percent favored one or the other of two proposed plans, said Brad Ruthrauff, who lives in Pecan Meadows. A second proposal included 99 homes on slightly larger lots but without a park. The remainder voted against both options.

Among the two proposals, the plan including 97 homes and a park received the most votes, Ruthrauff said.

“A majority of the community voted for something,” he said of the survey results showing a majority wanting a version of the proposed development as opposed to nothing. “You’ve got to go with what the community is wanting.”

While residents would prefer even less density, Ruthrauff said he believed they also needed to give a little on the issue after the developer sat down with them, asking for their input before returning a second time with the two options.

“There are some against it still,” Ruthrauff said. “Everyone has a different perspective.”

Neighborhood reaction to the initial project stirred an outcry against higher density housing on the 30-acre property off Rippy Road near FM 2499 – land that currently is zoned half as low density with the other half as neighborhood retail/office development. Several plan changes have taken it from the initially-proposed townhomes, apartments and senior living to 167 homes to 137 homes as of March 16 to the current 97 homes.

The project has several merits, Ruthrauff said, adding the Highland Court proposal would reduce traffic by eliminating the neighborhood/retail and office component, keep College Parkway from being extended as another access point near FM 2499 as it currently is planned in the town’s master plan, and, with 10,000-square-foot lots, is congruent to adjacent neighbors.

“There’s a lot of positives we would not see if this [road] does not go through,” he said.

Though some neighbors are not in agreement with the majority, Ruthrauff said the process as a whole has been positive.

“It was nice to be able to work with Mr. Watson in regards to giving a lot of input,” he said. “That doesn’t normally happen.”

Residents also spoke with David Weekly officials about the types of homes proposed, learning the neighborhood would not be “cookie cutter.”

Ruthrauff said the project’s proposed density is now very similar to the neighboring Pecan Acres, where a mix of density currently exists.

“I see this as a single family development not unique in any way from Bridlewood or Wellington,” he said.

Jim Engel, president of the Pecan Meadows homeowner’s association, said the current proposal of 10,000 to 12,000 square feet along Rippy Road was better but residents were concerned it included too many houses on 6,500-square-foot lots on the interior section toward the existing commercial development and was too dense.

“For many of us in the neighborhood, [the proposed 6,500-square-foot lots] is too narrow and much too dense based on what P&Z [Planning and Zoning Commission] said last month,” Engel said.

Engel said some in the neighborhoods have accepted the plan because they do not want to see commercial development but he added that many are still unhappy about it. “It’s a problem,” he said.

“We appreciate the fact that Mr. Watson has changed his plans since he started,” Engel said, adding that though the project started with apartments, it still hadn’t reached the preferred density.

Watson said he took P&Z Commissioners’ and town council members’ suggestions into consideration when meeting with the neighbors to “better understand what they wanted.”

In the neighborhood meetings, Watson said he clearly heard residents’ concerns about not continuing College Parkway all the way through, keeping the vegetative lair along Rippy Road and saving the trees. Residents were clear that they wanted larger lots along Rippy Road, he added.

The current plan keeps College Parkway from becoming an thoroughfare street, reducing traffic. In addition, the plans have been re-drawn to save 12 of 13 specimen trees currently on the property and place a hike and bike trail on the property, leaving trees and other landscaping on the outside of the project next to Rippy Road.

The latest Highland Court project also calls for several rows of homes on larger lots to “double insulate” the Rippy Road neighborhoods with the smaller lots closer to the existing commercial/office use. In addition, while an estimated 2.3 acres will be available for a park, he anticipates using only 1.6 acres for the actual park to allow additional space for larger lots along Rippy Road.

“There’s been some concern over the 50-foot lots but there’s 50-foot lots throughout Flower Mound in Wellington and Bridlewood,” Watson said of the smaller lots toward FM 2499. The 50-foot lots refer to the width of the property, not the overall square feet of each lot.

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