Honoring the Master Plan

Many of us moved to Flower Mound because we loved the beauty of this community, the unique topography, open spaces, parks, schools, and the quality development. These qualities did not happen by accident; they have been planned for more than 30 years and that vision is implemented through the Master Plan. It differentiates between residential and commercial development, and can make a difference in what type of development occurs on the empty lot next to your home, church, or school.

A Master Plan documents and guides a community’s goals and objectives for its future. Used to manage the growth, development, and redevelopment of a community, a Master Plan plays an important role in the decision-making process. It combines the geographic and functional components of development to ensure they are in agreement with a community’s priorities. Flower Mound’s Master Plan touches the quality of life of each Flower Mound resident daily.

Flower Mound’s first leaders understood Flower Mound residents wanted their town to retain the friendly, tight-knit sense of community on which it was founded. Our town was intended to be a place where families can raise children, go to school, and know their neighbors. The Master Plan was created to ensure Flower Mound remained primarily a bedroom community, while also working to manage residential and commercial growth and balance the tax burden with quality economic development projects.

I’ve recently had the privilege of spending time and discussing the town’s history with former Flower Mound Mayor Gary Pressler (1980-1984). His insight into the vision and principles utilized to develop Flower Mound’s Master Plan has proven invaluable. According to Mayor Pressler, the intent of the original Master Plan was to ensure that as Flower Mound developed it did so in a way that would preserve the rural flavor and open spaces that made our town so unique, and guarantee that Flower Mound developed in a way that benefited the entire community.     

“The whole idea behind the Master Plan was to establish a vision as to what we wanted this community to be. We had to decide what the vision and future of Flower Mound was going to be. The people who were living here, at that time, came here because it was such a beautiful area. We are a bedroom community by design,” said Mayor Pressler.

Flower Mound’s first Master Plan was adopted in 1981. Much like the Code of Ordinances and Town Charter, the Master Plan benefits from occasional updates that reflect the current development environment. It was revised in 1986 and again in 1994. Due to rapid and intense urbanization and explosive population growth during the 1990s, the Town Council and residents also initiated a major update in 1998 that resulted in the  Master Plan 2001.

The Master Plan 2001 was adopted to create a balanced tax base ensuring the Town’s long-term economic health and prosperity; mitigate the ill effects of rapid and intense urbanization; ensure all development is of enduring and exemplary quality; and preserve the country atmosphere and natural environment that makes Flower Mound a unique and desirable community. It establishes the framework for the physical development of the Town through the projected build-out population of 93,000 residents.

The intent and desire of the Town Council at that time was to maintain and enhance Flower Mound’s exceptional quality of life by focusing on improving roads and infrastructure; preserving open space, natural landscapes and the ancient Cross Timbers forest; implementing and enforcing architectural standards; attracting high quality development; beautifying roadways; and ensuring the Town’s long-term economic health. The Master Plan 2001 included sections devoted to land use, parks, trails, open space, roadways, water, wastewater, and economic development. In addition, a SMARTGrowth component was included to unite the Town’s ordinances and Master Plan to help manage future development. While it was updated again in 2006, and re-adopted in 2011 to include updates to the Urban Design Standards, a super-majority vote of the Town Council is now required to implement changes to the Master Plan.

While updates to the Master Plan have occurred over the years, the vision and ideals upon which it was originally created remains unchanged, and many of the goals have been achieved. It was not updated without a significant amount of planning, public input, and in the case of the 2001, 2006 and 2011 updates, the assistance of community development professionals to help guide the process. According to Mayor Pressler, the Town Council he served with, and most of the ones that followed, might have had political differences, but for the most part, they have consistently stayed true to the original vision.

“We were doing nothing except continuing what those before us had done. We just put it in concrete and on paper. It’s been altered several times, but they did keep the concepts of openness and rural flavor. I think we are on the right track and still doing well,” he said.

On occasion, I’m approached by people visiting our town who are pleasantly surprised to see that Flower Mound is not covered in concrete like other communities. My response always reflects back to the vision on which the Master Plan was drafted, and my conversations with Mayor Pressler. Throughout history, our leaders have consistently remained true to that vision and because we took the time to implement the Master Plan, adopt the proper ordinances, and patiently wait for the right development, Flower Mound has developed into the wonderful community that we are all so proud to call home.

Protecting that vision means we welcome quality development in the right location, and balancing the tax base to relieve the financial burden carried by the residents still remains a priority. In 2001, Flower Mound’s tax base consisted of 90 percent residential and 10 percent commercial development. The Master Plan update adopted that year established a goal of further balancing the tax base by creating an 80 percent residential to 20 percent commercial ratio. Despite experiencing slowed economic development in the early 1990s and an economic downturn, being called “The Great Recession” by many experts, Flower Mound still generated enough economic development to realize a 19.84 percent commercial tax base in 2011.

While we will continue to attract quality economic development projects, it is important our leaders remain true to the vision of our forefathers by protecting the concept of Flower Mound as a bedroom community built for the residents that call it home. Adhering to the principles of the Master Plan ensures survival for the quality-of-life we are fortunate to enjoy as Flower Mound residents. Much like a parent is responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of their child, we have an obligation as Flower Mound residents to protect our town and Master Plan.

We should be honored to live in a town with such a rich history of defending its open spaces and rural flavor. My priority is to carry the torch of our founding fathers, follow the Master Plan, and sustain the vision of Flower Mound as being a community that considers the needs and priorities of its residents above all else. This is a vision that has been preserved for 30 years, through countless Mayors and Town Council Members. As long as we have leaders in place who love our town enough to ensure the standard of respecting the Master Plan remains in place, Flower Mound will continue to be one of the best places to call home in North Texas. Mayor Pressler said it best when discussing the importance of protecting the Master Plan and the vision for and history of Flower Mound.

“Residents need to have pride in their town. Every council and every planning and zoning commission needs to understand that it’s a domino effect. If we start constantly changing and giving up things in
the Master Plan, we are taking away the pride people feel in the community,” he said. “I’m very pleased with where we are and who we are as a town. It’s worth it for us to maintain that pride that people have because they live in Flower Mound. The Master Plan is the protection of that pride.”

This article is the second in a three-part series written to commemorate and bring closure to the year in which we celebrated Flower Mound’s 50th Anniversary and honored the leaders, vision, and principals that have shaped Flower Mound’s history and future. The third and final piece will review the SMARTGrowth program and how it drives the Master Plan.

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