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FMTC drops eminent domain; approves $100,000 contract

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Bob White Lane in Flower Mound
Bob White Lane in Flower Mound

Flower Mound Town Council approved 4-0 a contract Monday to pay Janvier Gentry-Scott $100,000 for .122 acre public access and utility easement and .024 acre public access and sidewalk easement. The contract followed months of discussion about the use of eminent domain to take acreage for use as a spine road for businesses along FM 2499 as proposed in the master plan.

The issue erupted after a consent agenda item appeared on a council agenda seeking eminent domain relating to property on Bob White Lane owned by Janvier Gentry-Scott, whose family has lived in Flower Mound for 50 years. About half of an acre was being sought by the town to use in creating a north/south connection for businesses between Firewheel and Sagebrush where traffic could move among businesses to gain access to traffic lights on both streets onto FM 2499.

Gentry-Scott questioned why town officials needed to use eminent domain to take her property for business use. That question spurred more than 400 comments on Facebook on the use of eminent domain.

Sharon Gentry, during public participation on Monday, gave council members a history lesson, indicating the topic of a spine road came up during hearings in 1994. Gentry said she questioned the need for a spine road and that the suggestion came from someone who was not a traffic engineer.

“Despite the argument, the master plan was approved with the changes, including the spine road suggested by an amateur. I told everyone at that time and subsequent times that we had no intention of selling the property,” she said.

Gentry said her daughter, the current property owner, was faced with two options: Allow the town to have the land or face bankruptcy trying to fight eminent domain actions.

Though she remains against losing the land, Gentry said her daughter chose to to work with what the town offered.

“I don’t want to sell the land,” said Janvier Gentry-Scott. “I would be happy if you opposed both and allowed me to keep my property and the beautiful trees.”

Mayor Tom Hayden said the town would have a perpetual easement agreement with Gentry-Scott and would maintain the property. He also indicated that while more money was offered for a larger piece, the resulting agreement was substantially less for less property.

Several residents asked town officials to consider approving the contract and dropping any eminent domain action.

Judy Collins told the council she was upset by the entire situation.

“I’ve watched Sharon Gentry over the years battle this issue over and over again,” she said adding she was not in favor of either proposal, citing it was a form of extortion.

With this threat of eminent domain … Ms. Gentry was coerced to signing this document,” she said. “I might expect extortion from a crime family but not from my town council.”

The agenda included not only the $100,000 contract offer but also the option to continue to pursue the eminent domain option, which was later rejected. Town officials said they would likely need to remove two specimen trees but would work to save other trees.

Gentry-Scott said she has never held out for more money and wanted to make that clear, adding that any money offered was simply what the town offered, not what she sought.

In February, council members unanimously agreed to allow town officials to discuss options with the landowner, setting a timetable of April 20 for a compromise before officials again consider eminent domain.

The issue erupted after a consent agenda item appeared on the agenda seeking eminent domain relating to property on Bob White Lane owned by Janvier Gentry-Scott, whose family has lived in Flower Mound for 50 years. About .585 of an acre was being sought by the town to use in creating a north/south connection for businesses between Firewheel and Sagebrush where traffic could move among businesses to gain access to traffic lights on both streets onto FM 2499.

Gentry-Scott questioned why town officials needed to use eminent domain to take her property for business use. That question spurred more than 400 comments on Facebook on the use of eminent domain.

Town officials countered that negotiations had been ongoing since August but to no resolution. Doug Powell, executive director of development services for the Town of Flower Mound, said the north/south connector off of FM 2499 behind the businesses had been part of an overall Specific Plan Area put into the master plan in 1994.

When asked how the town could avoid a similar situation in the future, Powell said Monday the situation was unique. “This is the only place that I know of in the midst of non-residential development that has residential access.”

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