The town recently published the results of a survey where residents once again expressed their desire to have more shopping and dining choices here in Flower Mound. This year’s results are notable for their similarity to prior year surveys.
One way to bring the dining and shopping choices we want is to encourage Mixed Use Development. Most if not all of us are comfortable shopping in these urban type settings that combine shopping, dining, entertainment and residential since most of us have found our way to Southlake Town Square on a somewhat regular basis.
Why is this important? Because over the past year, the Mayor, members of Council and Commissioners on P&Z have worked to stifle and restrict Mixed Use Development in Flower Mound. Their actions have likely had a chilling effect on future Mixed Use Development anywhere in town. You can read details of what has occurred over the past year by visiting www.fmforward.com.
It’s a strange way to conduct business. Giving lip service to the citizens while telling the development community that we don’t want Mixed Use in Flower Mound?
Instead of looking for new ways to so ‘NO’ or erecting barriers and road blocks to development, it’s time to get serious about economic development. It is time to figure out what it will take to grow our tax base, reduce the disproportionate tax burden carried by homeowners, and provide the development community the opportunity to meet the demand of our residents. And maybe add a few jobs in the process.
Getting serious does not mean using tax payer’s money to rent an air conditioned VIP tent or to buy fences along Morris Rd. Contrary to what Mayor Northern says, these things are not economic development.
Getting serious means conducting a full internal review of all of our development regulations. It means asking hard questions and challenging the status quo.
• What regulations are necessary and which ones are not?
• What can be simplified and streamlined?
• Just because it made sense 10 or 15 years ago, does it still make sense today?
If we know what development we want, and I think we do, then we can define and share it with parties interested in bringing projects to our community. When Projects are brought forward, inevitably there will be some concessions or exceptions requested. When those requests come forward, they need to be met from a perspective different from what has happened in the past.
Instead of pulling out the code book and telling a developer why it won’t work, use the book to identify what aspects of the project need to be looked at with new creativity. For example, if a large project needs flexibility on the number of parking spaces, look realistically at what the real parking requirements are. Don’t use a formula, use reason. And don’t let the necessity of working through the details allow us to be distracted from the ultimate goal.
That goal is providing the citizens with the amenities they want, building our local economy, balancing our tax base, and giving all residents of Flower Mound a reason not to drive to Southlake.
I’ve often said that saying No is easy. What is hard is figuring out how to get from No to Yes. It takes hard work. it takes open communication. And it takes trust. All of these should be expected from elected officials. It’s time we expect as much from ours.