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Rippy Road plan changes considered; Park improvements approved

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Flower Mound Town Hall. Photo by Bill Castleman
Flower Mound Town Hall. Photo by Bill Castleman

Flower Mound residents who live near Rippy Road have spent many hours attending various town meetings—from Environmental Conservation and Planning & Zoning Commissions to Town Council.

Two new developments will have a direct impact on the northern area of the town through which Rippy Road runs. Neighbors have repeatedly objected to the resulting changes to the rural setting in that area of the town. Although both developments were approved, it would seem the repeated requests to maintain the rural atmosphere were heard.

Mayor Tom Hayden said he’d like to consider a transportation amendment for Rippy Road to the Master Plan to help preserve the rural feel as a future agenda item.

“In the Master Plan, it’s designated as an urban collector and if it remains as such, with the future park that’s going to be at the bend, then a large number of trees will be taken out,” he said. “But if it’s a rural collector, then many trees would need to be cleared for right-of-way.”

Town Manager Jimmy Stathatos said that a Rippy Road amendment is one of the upcoming workshop issues. Staff would present several different options for council to consider such as was done with Sagebrush.

Residents want the road improved, but not to be a “curb-and-gutter” road, because then it loses its rural feeling.

Public Works Director Kenneth Parr said that it’s possible to make a modified urban collector road by designating some areas as having “curb-and-gutter” sections where required and other sections without.

It was ultimately decided to remove the item from the November workshop to allow enough public notification before scheduling a December informational exchange meeting with neighborhood residents.

Council member Bryan Webb also requested that staff skip a presentation before council and, instead, start the process with Transportation, then to P&Z before it reaches Town Council. Eliminating the first council step should help expedite the process.

Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dixon said he’d also like to have some physical markers, like stakes, for the public to be able to see where things will be located.

Twin Coves Park

The council unanimously approved awarding the construction manager at-risk contract to Dean Construction Inc., for the Twin Coves Park Improvements project, in the amount of almost $2.9 million.

Mark Spencer, owner of MHS Planning & Design from Tyler, said Phase 1 work is set to begin in about two weeks.

Included in the first phase are 20 cabins, 22 RV slips (4 remodeled, 18 new), a parking lot, a sand-filled volleyball court, a lawn area and preservation of environmentally sensitive areas and tree mitigation.

The next phase—1A—is set to begin in March. It will include a playground by the cabins, two pavilions, a small craft launch area and fishing pier and a lake overlook on the south side.

A $400,000 grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Outdoor Recreation Department is helping fund the project.

Twin Coves Park is 234 acres, of which 23 acres will be improved; the other will remain natural.

Spencer said the project should be complete in September 2016.

Dog Park Rules on Hold

The council had issues with six of the more than a dozen rules for the “Hound Mound” dog park—none of them were about dogs.

The most discussed rules involved children; their age and adult supervision. Webb questioned not allowing children under age nine being allowed in the park.

“If I’m a parent with a couple of kids and a dog and everyone wants to go to the dog park and if the town tells me I can’t take my 6-year-old daughter to the dog park, I’m going to have issues,” said Webb.

Parks and Recreation Director Chuck Jennings said the rule was written for safety reasons and was in line with several of the cities used as comparisons to Flower Mound.

“A lot of times children are skittish and show fear and we didn’t want to put a dog in the situation where it might bite the child, another dog or an owner,” he said.

Webb and council members said they would like the rule to be re-written and require that anyone under 14-years-old needs adult supervision to enter the park.

“If a family with young kids wants to go to the dog park, they should have that ability,” said Webb.

Council tabled it until the Nov. 22 meeting to allow Town Attorney Bryn Meredith to re-write the six rules under question for the ordinance.

Tree Ordinance Fast-lined

Matthew Woods, director of Environmental Services, told the council that the Environmental Conservation Commission (ECC) was working on setting new standards to update the town’s tree ordinance in four specific areas: specimen tree size for Post Oaks; a planting list; a protection list; and tree preservation.

Hayden brought up the location of the future tree farm. He said that the original idea of putting it on the 20-acre site in western Flower Mound could make it difficult to also put sports fields and a learning center there. A tree farm would allow the town to keep a “bank” of trees and then give them to residents on Arbor Day.

Hayden said that perhaps the Green Acres Farm Memorial Park at 4400 Hide-a-Way Lane could be a viable alternative.

“People had been concerned about traffic there,” he said. “But, it would only be busy one day a year, and that’s on Arbor Day.”

Hayden also raised his request to examine the town’s drainage standards during home constructing. The town’s clear-cutting is based on water flow and drainage. He said the city of Austin uses an engineering standard that allows water to flow from one yard to another, it would allow for a design that keeps trees from having to be removed.

Hayden asked Woods when the council could look at some ideas to move forward with these items. He asked if a joint meeting could help move things a little faster. Woods said he’d take a request to move forward faster to the ECC with its schedule.

Stathatos responded that trying to schedule a meeting with the holidays approaching could pose a problem. He said January 2016 would be the earliest possibility, but early in February would be the best option.

“It would be nice to have things in place to be able to have our next Arbor Day celebration [the first Saturday in November] at the town’s new ‘tree bank’ location,” said Hayden.

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