As the end of my two year commitment on Flower Mound Town Council comes to a close, it has been both an honor and a privilege to serve our town. I’ve also enjoyed my role on the planning and zoning commission from 2004-2009, along with my other town committee work. Flower Mound is a wonderful place to raise a family and call “home.”
Flower Mound is now 50 years old, and though not the oldest town in Texas by any means, it is recognized by many as a great Texas Town. Residents enjoy sharing the successes of their children excelling in academics and sports, entrepreneurs grow their local businesses, and parents know we live in one of the safest communities in the United States.
Like other successful communities, we are not immune to challenges. Over the past few years, the citizens of Flower Mound have spent many hours on important issues that impact our town. One of the most discussed topics continues to be natural gas operations in Flower Mound. In the near future, town council will review and add to the protections of our oil and gas ordinance. While this is a high priority, it is not the only important issue in Flower Mound. Balancing our budget, securing economic development, and providing high quality services, are also very important. Before leaving office, I want to share my thoughts on these topics:
Budget – Each year, the town reviews expenses and revenue projections, along with budget priorities and anticipated trends. Council members then provide direction to town staff on how to allocate funds. Decision packages are offered as options to prioritize needs, while balancing the needs with available resources. Because of the current U.S. and Texas economic situation, my recommendation has been to reserve as much money as possible, and spend as little as possible until we weather the economic storm. Fortunately, others on council have shared my thought and we have maintained a balanced budget. However, as we come out of the recession– Flower Mound must reign in legal expenses and be ready to capitalize on quality economic development to ease the tax burden on homeowners.
Economic Development – Many people recognize Flower Mound as a desirable place to live, which draws the attention of people who want to bring businesses and new development to Flower Mound. We have seen some recent development in Flower Mound, but the reality is there are developers who say Flower Mound is difficult to work with and they will not develop in Flower Mound. When I have personally heard these statements from developers, the Master Plan or SMARTGrowth is not mentioned as the reason. Neither was Flower Mound’s standard of high quality development. The difficulty seems to be political. Developers mentioned that they feel the rules change in the middle of the process.
Today, Flower Mound is experiencing a political debate about mixed-use in Lakeside. The Lakeside Business District is a large area in southern Flower Mound divided into several business areas, from the lake on the west side to the town limits on the east. Some areas have large warehouses, while other areas have yet to be developed. There are two areas in Lakeside where mixed-use would be an excellent fit —Lakeside DFW, which is adjacent to the lake, and Lakeside International , which is adjacent to FM2499. Now, there are people that continue to describe Mixed-Use Development as high density apartments, which is not accurate and is misleading. When I hear the characterization that mixed-use is predominantly residential, or that it equates to high density apartments–I find myself wondering if they have read the Mixed-Use ordinance or the guiding principles. The Mixed-Use ordinance protections ensure that no “one single use” shall be allowed to predominate.
My hope is the town will continue to welcome the opportunity to discuss exemplary and enduring quality development in Lakeside, instead of changing our ordinances to specifically exclude the area or create redundant steps when a Master Plan Amendment is already required.
Services – Flower Mound is fortunate to have well-trained, professional and dedicated police and fire department personnel. We also have caring and helpful town employees who work hard every day to assist Flower Mound residents. I will truly miss the regular interaction with all of them. In the past two years, I’ve witnessed the culmination of the many years of preparation leading up to the opening of two new fire stations and our police department achieving a prestigious law enforcement certification. And undoubtedly, you have certainly seen the many street projects, and we all look forward to their never-too-soon completion. I know residents will be very satisfied with the expanded recycling options and additional services currently being discussed in the solid waste contract negotiations, as we all do our part to keep Flower Mound beautiful.
Single Member Districts – Recently, I recommended town council explore adopting a mix of single member district council seats instead of every seat being “at-large.” Single member districts would allow people living in all areas of town to be represented by someone elected from their area of town. Our current structure can result in a “council majority,” with all council members living in the same neighborhood. Since recognizing this as a concern, I brought it up to council, hoping the issue will be discussed in a public forum and considered by council very soon.
My wife recently asked what I plan to do with all my extra time, when I’m no longer on town council. I really don’t know, but I am looking forward to exploring the options.
Flower Mound, TX