A Flower Mound Transportation Commissioner has stepped down after organizing a neighborhood meeting to discuss the possibility of Garden Ridge Boulevard becoming a truck route and subsequently setting off a firestorm on social media.
Transportation Commissioner Louis Wei resigned his seat (Place 8-Alternate) at the May 1 Flower Mound Town Council meeting. Wei was appointed to the commission in October 2016.
He read the following statement:
“Council Members and Flower Mound Residents, First of all I would like to thank the Town Staff for installing the ‘no truck’ sign on Garden Ridge from 1171 to 3040, all my neighbors I spoke to really do appreciate the quick reaction on this matter.
However, it has been brought to my attention that certain members on the Flower Mound Town Council have issues with my action on organizing a neighborhood meeting to discuss Garden Ridge Blvd being recommended as a truck route by the Transportation Commission.
Posts were created on social media platforms which created swirl of irrational discussions. My character and integrity were attacked by false accusations from the people who have not attended the meeting. The false accusations continued even after multiple attempts trying to correct them. Additionally, my ethics were being questioned over and over on social media platforms as well as during the Town Council meeting held on April 17th of this year.
I want to make it absolutely clear that just because I am serving as a commissioner on Flower Mound’s Transportation Commission does not mean that I am going to surrender my right to continue voicing my opinions regarding the town as I see fit. Furthermore, make no mistake that I am definitely not going forfeit my right to protect my home, my family and my child.
Given the hostile environment that has been created by a certain group of people in the Town of Flower Mound, I no longer believe in the cause when I first signed up to volunteer.
Effective immediately I resign my position of Place 8, Alternate on the Transportation Commission.
I want to thank the Chairman of the Transportation Commission and my fellow commissioners, I wish them luck on their future endeavors.”
His statement raised some questions and need for clarification; however, Wei said he would make no further comments.
The genesis of this ensuing action appears to be an April 12 meeting concerning Garden Ridge that Wei organized at Flower Mound Fire Station 3 at 2020 Woodhill Drive.
This meeting following the Town Council and Transportation Commission work session held on March 23. Both Wei and Town Council member Itamar Gelbman attended the work session.
During the work session, which was led by Public Works Executive Director Ken Parr and Town Traffic Engineer Matt Hotelling, the extension of both Duncan Lane and Garden Ridge Blvd. as possible truck routes was discussed but deemed not feasible.
In spite of that determination, on March 26, Wei posted on the Nextdoor social media site the following notice of the April 12 meeting:
“Hello neighbors on Garden Ridge Rd., as some of you may know the Town of Flower Mound has authorized Garden Ridge Rd. as a truck route. We will be having a meeting to discuss his matter at the Flower Mound Firehouse, at 2020 Woodhill Dr. 75022 Wednesday, April 12th from 7-8 pm.
Please join us if you can, we will have people on the Transportation Commission as well as Town Council to come talk and hopefully we can get a petition started and get this revoked. Please RSVP to this post if you are able to attend so we can get a headcount. Thank you for your help and support.”
In addition, the spread of the incorrect information was shared in Garden Ridge Elementary’s PTA newsletter:
“On another note, the Town of Flower Mound has authorized Garden Ridge Blvd. as a Truck route. There will be a meeting at the Flower Mound Firehouse, at 2020 Woodhill Dr. 75022 Wednesday, April 12th from 7-8 pm.
“Please go if you can. Louis Wei Transportation Board and Itamar Gelbman town Councilman will be speaking. Hopefully they can get a petition started and get this revoked.”
As a response to clarify that misinformation, during the April 3, 2017 Town Council meeting, Town Manager Jimmy Stathatos reiterated that Garden Ridge is not now, or under future consideration to be designated as, a truck route.
However, Wei persisted in his postings on social media. Four days prior to the April 12 meeting, Wei posted the following on the Flower Mound Cares Facebook page: “It is not a truck route FOR NOW because the Town Council has not voted on it yet. However the Transportation Commission passed the recommendation on June 2016, 6 to 0 to make Garden Ridge a truck route. [Editor: this was nine-months prior to the March 23 work session update.] So we are planning on to talk about in the meeting what if this topic is brought in front of the Council. If there are enough support in the neighborhoods then we need to make sure our voices are heard and being considered if there is ever a vote.”
Following the April 12 meeting, on April 13, Wei posted: “Some neighborhoods on Garden Ridge have held a meeting yesterday to discuss about Garden Ridge being recommended as a truck route. Some conflicting information are being floated around. I urge people to read the Transportation Commission’s agenda packet and minutes for the June 14, 2016 meeting. Specifically Item F, page 11 of the agenda packet has the proposed truck routes map. The proposed truck routes were passed 6-0 by the commission to recommend to the TC. For those who are interested in the discussion can watch the video of the meeting, which is available on the town website as well.”
Again, this refers to the June 14, 2016 meeting, not the March 23 work session update.
Immediately following Wei’s post, Mayor Tom Hayden posted: “I have been made aware of a meeting that occurred this week attended by Council Member Gelbman, Council Candidate Cathy Strathmann and a member of the Town’s transportation commission. A subsequent email has circulated that discusses many topics that have no basis in fact that were discussed at this meeting. Many of these topics are unrelated and or complete fiction. There is NO recommendation from the town staff, nor has the council considered designating Garden Ridge as a Truck Route. The Town is NOT recruiting, trying to implement or anything else related to Section 8 housing. Besides being fake news, it is preposterous. The town has NOT, nor ever talked about, attaining a bus system up and down Garden Ridge. As the Mayor of our town, I can state unequivocally the council has not considered designating Garden Ridge as a Truck Route, section 8 housing is not coming to Flower Mound, and the town is not attempting to obtain a bus route for Garden Ridge.”
During the April 17 Town Council meeting, there was a discussion during the Town Manager’s report section about guaranteeing notification to residents of any possible changes of road designations.
A flurry of comments on social media pointed out that residents’ objections were not about holding a meeting (the right to gather or First Amendment guarantee to free speech); objections were about the incorrect and misleading premise for holding the meeting.
Stathatos authorized installing “No Thru Trucks” signs on Garden Ridge between FM 3040 and FM 1171 on April 26.
Moving forward, the new notification protocol discussed on May 1 following Wei’s resignation will eliminate future confusion related to Flower Mound’s traffic issues.