Wednesday, December 7, 2022

My Perspective – Our Master Plan

Michael Walker, Place 1, Flower Mound Town Council
Michael Walker, Place 1, Flower Mound Town Council

I am an urban planner by training and experience. For the last twenty years, I have enjoyed helping shape Flower Mound’s growth and strong community character through participation in several Town boards and commissions and now as an elected member of Town Council.

My education and experience have taught me there is no dogmatic set of rules that can be used to build a great community like Flower Mound.  It takes patience, planning, sound judgment, the ability to act upon unanticipated opportunities and the willingness to make course corrections when needed.

I continue to be asked about our Town’s current development activities. My opponent believes that Flower Mound’s growth is out of control. On the contrary, over the last 3 years Flower Mound’s population has grown at a modest 2% per year while Denton County and the DFW Metroplex have grown twice as fast.  Why? Flower Mound has a strong Master Plan supported by our analytical, growth management program “SMARTGrowth.”

SMARTGrowth is legal largely because it respects a landowner’s property rights and does not prevent a landowner from developing his or hers property.   It requires the needed infrastructure be in place or that the landowner pay for their proportionate share of the needed Town infrastructure.

On his website, my opponent makes that statement that we are not following SMARTGrowth.  What Mr. Rountree should know is that SMARTGrowth is our program to ensure development does not happen without the needed Town owned infrastructure, like water, sewer and roads being in place.  By ordinance, no proposed development can come before Council if our SMARTGrowth criteria are not met and passed.

At an early debate, my opponent stated that he would not vote to approve any Master Plan Amendments(MPA).  At subsequent debates, Mr. Rountree stated he would only support MPAs that had no impact.  That position was further modified, and it now seems that Mr. Rountree will only support MPAs that do not have an impact and do not include high-density housing.

Under this variable criteria, Mr. Rountree would not have voted for projects like our hospital, Target, Lowes, the Community Activity Center to name a few.  Our hospital came with the requirement for luxury rentals and townhomes (i.e. high density). Target and Lowes had traffic impacts as did the Town’s CAC.

Master Plan amendments allowed us to reduce the number of apartments included in the original Riverwalk design by more than 3,000 units and eliminate stark industrial warehouses at our northern entrance.  Our recent master plan changes like the “Villas at Woodlake Estates” have provided superior tree and habitat preservation, and the existing neighborhoods were supportive of the change as an alternative to the commercial, business development the Master Plan had dictated.

Some requested Master Plan changes impact very little outside of a neighborhood.  In other instances, like in the case of the hospital, the entire Town is impacted and although the nearby neighborhoods may protest the change, the Council may approve the change due to its overall responsibility to serve the broader benefit of the entire Town.

A segment of our residents that we also must serve — seniors, disabled veterans and others with limited mobility looking for quality rental homes — should not look to Mr. Rountree for support.  Any homes designed for these citizens will require an MPA to allow for high density.

Continuing to build Flower Mound in a thoughtful manner that balances the sometimes conflicting desires of our residents requires extensive knowledge and experience.

This ability is more critical now than ever. The Texas legislature is very close to limiting Flower Mound’s ability to locally regulate important issues like gas drilling, tax rates and tree preservation. The tools Flower Mound has to mitigate the impact of Austin’s overreach may be only limited to those contained in our Master Plan, SMARTGrowth program, development and zoning regulations.

My opponent’s variable approach to our Master Plan, may create circumstances where trees are needlessly destroyed and gas wells are encouraged, and our tax revenues drop to levels where critical services are no longer affordable.

This is why I am seeking re-election to Flower Mound Town Council – Place 1.  Early voting begins April 27th and election day is May 9th.

Michael Walker
Place 1, Flower Mound Town Council
Flower Mound, TX

CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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