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Flower Mound approves dueling Mexican restaurants

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

At their Feb. 8 meeting, the Planning & Zoning Commissioners gave the go-ahead for different projects surrounding FM 2499: the mixed-use Hawks Hill development plan; a new Mi Dia Mexican Restaurant and Taco Bueno restaurant; and, a replat for a retail change along Central Park Ave. in The River Walk

The commissioners also approved a record plat to create the first phase of the Townlake residential cluster development. It contains approximately 92.54-acres of land, from 170-acres total of land, located west of Flower Mound Rd. and north of River Hill Dr.

It will feature 37 buildable, single-family residential lots, of a total of 105 lots. The minimum lot size is 21,780-square feet (1/2-acre) and the lots are in conformance with the underlying cluster development standards within Planned Development District-138 (PD-138).

The first phase depicts approximately 51.36 acres of open space to be maintained by a non-profit organization and approximately 12-acres of open space to be owned and maintained by the Homeowner’s Association.

Since the property is located outside the Town’s wastewater service area, all proposed residential lots will contain individual septic systems.

Hawks Hill

Along the FM 2499 corridor, the northern-most project is the Hawks Hill development plan, located at the southwest corner at the intersection with Waketon Rd.

Phase 1 will include nine lots on 18.7-acres and a convenience store with a gas station; which will require a separate specific use permit (SUP).

Phase 2 will include eight lots for offices and retail and/or restaurants.

Phase 3 will involve low-density residential lots, to be outlined in a future development plan.

The River Walk

Moving south down Long Prairie, a replat and a site plan for two retail buildings on the south side of Central Park Ave., the main entrance into The River Walk at Central Park, which will end with a roundabout at the entrance of the amphitheatre.

The two buildings will have a total of 23,000-square feet.

In the two-story first building, there will be 7,940-square feet of retail and 5,860-square feet of offices.

The second building, which will be one story, will feature 9,300-square feet of retail space.

Mexican Restaurants

The commissioners finished their trip down FM 2499 with a stop at the site of a Taco Bueno restaurant, set to be built on 1.26-acres near Texas Heath Presbyterian Hospital. The restaurant will be a 2,800-square feet building with a drive-thru window and 37 parking spaces.

From the future Taco Bueno, the current view to the west across Long Prairie Rd. is of an empty space, a parking lot and then the new Senior Center on West Windsor Rd. That’s about to change.

The commissioners approved a site plan for a Mi Dia Mexican restaurant to be located at the southwest intersection at West Windsor Dr.; “dueling” Mexican restaurants—one more speedy with a drive-thru amenity, the other a fine-dining atmosphere with a patio.Viva!

The Mia Dia Mexican restaurant will be 5,200-square feet, plus a 2,000-square feet patio, with 76 on-site parking spaces and 22 shared with the Senior Center.

During a presentation by Drew Martin, representing the developer, four variances to architectural standards were requested and addressed. An architectural “interest” addition to the south-facing wall; redesign the window glass percentage facing the patio to meet the only 80-percent limit; and, a roof-pitch change.

The Townlake and FM 2499 development projects were all approved without much discussion, public participation or staff angst. Not so the final agenda item.

Master Plan Amendment for Density Definitions

“We’re not touching the zoning, we’re not touching the zoning, we’re not touching the zoning,” said Doug Powell, executive director of Flower Mound’s Development Services, as he stepped to the podium.

The topic under consideration was to insert a new density definition, Medium-High, for land use, as well as split the High density definition into residential and non-residential.

The issue of a possible land use density definition gap between Medium and High was initially raised as part of the Highland Court rezoning request, which was approved by the Town Council in April 2015.

Subsequently, during the May 29, 2015, Strategic Planning Session, the Town Council directed staff to review the issue with the P&Z Commission.

The issue was raised again with the recent Canyon Falls Master Plan amendment request, which failed to receive a required supermajority vote of approval in August 2015.

Work sessions were held between staff and P&Z Commissioners on Aug. 10 and Nov. 9, 2015.

The discussion at the Commission was presented to the Town Council at their November 19, 2015, meeting. Their direction was to proceed with a narrow focus and to only amend the Master Plan at this time. This direction was presented to the Commission at the December 14, 2015, meeting.

That resulted in drafting the following options for discussion in amending the Master Plan land use definitions:

Medium High (new definition between Medium and High Density)

Residential development, typically being single-family detached residential development, with minimum 7,500-square foot lots up to 10,000-square feet. Currently, there are only 24-acres of undeveloped land in the Master Planned Medium Density land use definition with four units per acre.

High SFD (new definition within High Density)

Residential development, typically being single-family detached (SFD) residential development with minimum 3,000-square foot lots or greater. Single family detached residential development with 5,000 to 8,000 square foot lots falls within this category, as do zero-lot line houses. This designation of High SFD would restrict the property from being zoned for apartment development without a Master Plan amendment.

The new High SFD definition simply separates single-family from multiple-family residential; it doesn’t change any other guidelines defining High Density.

High (revised definition under High Density)

Residential development with five dwelling-units per net acre, or greater. Included in this category are duplexes, townhouses and garden apartments.

Tommy Dalton, director of Strategic Services, presented a breakdown of the remaining 393-acres of undeveloped land in town by use category; they are:

183-acres in Estate (183 minimum l-acres lots,) at 54-percent;

128-acres in Low (373 minimum 15,000-square foot lots) at 38-percent;

24-acres in Medium (75-to-104 minimum 10,000-square foot lots), at seven-percent;

and, four-acres at High (56 under 10,000-square foot lots) at one-percent of the total.

Powell said the there are lower than 10,000-square foot Medium lots—some down to 6,800-square feet—because it includes pre-Master Plan existing lots.

“The fact is, Flower Mound doesn’t have a long-range comprehensive planning department,” said Dalton. “All the research that town staff has been doing has been correlating information with other towns, which do have such a department. They look at such things as: demographics; population growth; building permits; and, housing stock. We’ve been doing all this on our own time, in addition to our regular work.”

Powell again stepped to the podium.

“It really is like apples and oranges when talking to other communities,” said Powell. “We ‘hard-wire’ the Master Plan into the zoning. Because it’s their [Master Plan] document, it’s not required for an applicant to request changes, they think it’s crazy for how we allow a developer to come in and ask to change our vision [how we have decided to use our land].”

He added that the SMARTGrowth requires that if there is going to be a change to the Master Plan, the applicant has to do a study– using the town model and consultants– on how it might affect the density.

“I really don’t go on Facebook, it doesn’t help my day,” said Powell with an uncharacteristic degree of force. “With one exception, no one else has called us [staff]. In the past, we’ve given you lots of information; if anyone came to our office, we’d have discussions with them. And I know that people are out there living their lives, but it’s unfair for comments on Facebook saying that ‘changes have been done without any conversations.’”

Commissioner Don McDaniel said he knows that the topic is being discussed, because Town Council requested it after last May’s election.

“I know we allow smaller [than 10,000-square foot] lots, because that’s what’s in demand,” he said. “I understand people get upset, because this is a change to the Master Plan. But, it’s a process and we have to go through this, because it requires a supermajority vote; but, it’s painful. We’re talking a lot about a big change for only 24-acres, which is painful. Can we make this more well-defined for developers and for residents and us?

“The idea that we’ll end up with thousands of new homes which can’t meet our SMARTGrowth requirements– it’s not logical, it’s not going to happen, it doesn’t exist, it’s not possible; our SMARTGrowth won’t allow it; it’s just not going to happen.”

Powell added that the land with the large lots off the south end of Simmons Rd., in Seminole, haven’t been included, because it would mean a developer would need to drag in sewer lines a couple of miles. It’s simply too expensive a process.

“Who is this (Master Plan change) for?” asked Commissioner Brad Ruthrauff. “If a developer wants to come in with a Planned Development, there are ways for them to follow. Why are we adding layers?”

Commissioner Emily Strittmatter then presented her concern about changing the definition of Medium Density.

“If every person who has an Estate or Low density lot– 311-acres– thinks they can make money and transition down to the new Medium, it goes from 564 lots vs. 1,244 lots,” she said. “I understand not everyone will want to go ahead and bring in infrastructure, but it is possible.”

Chairman Claudio Forest explained to her that changing the definition of Medium is not the topic being discussed.

“We aren’t talking about changing what Medium is; it’s still 10,000-square feet minimum,” he explained. “We’re talking about adding a Medium-High level with a lower minimum; not changing Medium. So, it seems kind of silly to add another layer.”

“I’m not the one who said we have a problem with out definitions,” she answered.

“We aren’t allowing them to do anything different,” explained Forest. “They’d still need to come before us and it would be a Master Plan amendment.”

McDaniel took the conversation next.

“People who are asking that vague question: ‘who’s this for;’ like we’re giving in to some developer,” said McDaniel to Ruffrauth. “No. It’s for homebuyers and families and people who want to live in this town and already live in this town; because people want to buy lots this size. That’s the ‘sweet spot;’ that’s where the demand is. We’re not appeasing some vague developer. It’s a straw-man. And, Elizabeth, it’s a scare tactic; that some 500-acreas are all going to flip-over is an absurd idea and a logic flaw.”

Eight public speakers all urged denial for the addition of a Medium-High Density level of land use, but were open for separating single family detached residential within the High Density definition.

The vote to deny changes to the existing density definitions was passed 4 to 3, with Forest breaking the tie. Voting with Forest against changes were McDaniel, Ruthrauff and Strittmatter.

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