Southgate, a proposed 108-acre mixed-use development slated for Gerault Road and FM 2499, must reduce the number of apartments before returning to the Flower Mound Planning and Zoning Commission for a zoning change.
Commissioners voted 5-1 to table a request for rezoning from Planned Development No. 47 with Commercial District-2 and Industrial District-2 uses to Planned Development District No. 134 with both non-residential and residential uses in compliance with the Campus Commercial land use designation within the Lakeside Business District Area.
At issue was the proposed 970 apartments and 270 single-family residences, which commissioners said were too many to approve and send on to the town council for consideration.
“This is a political issue. Apartments in this town are going to become the new gas well issue,” Don McDaniel said. “We have to be cognizant of that as we make these decisions. We represent the people in this town and we are getting that vibe – people are concerned with density in this town.”
Commissioners unanimously approved a master plan amendment for the property, converting 28.03 acres from campus industrial to campus commercial. The remaining portion of the development was already designated as campus commercial, officials said.
Dan Quinto, president of Roaring Brook Development, and Stephen Williamson, president of Beverly Development Corporation, both asked commissioners to go ahead and pass the zoning change with the understanding they would reduce the density before taking it to the council next Monday.
However, commissioners were reluctant to give a greenlight without specific details, tabling the matter until their next meeting on Dec. 8.
Several residents attending the Monday night meeting voiced their opinions about the proposed apartments included in the development which also will feature townhomes and single family residences behind a retail/office fronting the main thoroughfares. The project also proposes a business incubator in conjunction with the University of North Texas, which would offer small start-up businesses a location to plan and grow their companies.
Patsy Mazur told commissioners she favored the plan, adding one of the major missing elements in Flower Mound is a place for young people.
“One of the things lacking in Flower Mound is the lack of young people,” she said. “I’m afraid we’re getting to the tipping point where schools are going to close,” Mazur said, adding that point was likely in five years.
Dan Hoffman, director of business development at RedCritter in Lewisville which employs a younger demographic, told commissioners that prospective employees “want work/life balance more than any other generation before.”
The prospect of having a development with recreational venues near residential along with a proposed business incubator made Flower Mound a very promising destination for companies like his and millenials.
Sherilyn Flick asked commissioners what they wanted Flower Mound to be. “Do we want to be Irving? Do we want to be Las Colinas? Do we want their traffic? Do we want their crime?”
Flick said the original vision for the Lakeside Business District has been lost, adding that she worked seven years on helping to develop the master plan.
In the more than two-hour meeting, the developers answered queries from an earlier work session with the commissioners regarding everything from how much green space was part of the plan to how tall buildings would be along FM 2499.
Across the board, commissioners voiced concerns about the density, citing the traffic concerns at the town’s two major thoroughfares as well as residents’ concerns about bringing more apartments to Flower Mound.
Prior to the public hearing, about 16 residents voiced concerns about another proposed mixed-use development on FM 2499 near Rippy Road that also included apartments.
Questions about Southgate primarily centered on traffic movement along FM 2499, the ability of pedestrians to cross the major thoroughfare and the desire to see a mixed-use development with less density centered as an attractive gateway into Flower Mound from neighboring Grapevine.
“Big picture-wise, I’m in favor of the project,” McDaniel said. “It is a good entryway into the south side of town.”
He suggested cutting density by 25 percent as a possible compromise.
Claudio Forest, who chairs the commission, agreed: “I guess I have a little bit of concern myself of the density – 970 is a lot for this corner. My gut feel is we need to have more green space. It looks too dense.”
Forest told developers to look at the project again to open it up more and cut the density.
Williamson suggested cutting the density by 100 apartments, telling commissioners the design required a certain level of density to attract the restaurants, retail and other businesses to make the project a viable, attractive destination.