Sunday, June 16, 2024

Gelbman: Let’s Keep Standards High

Itamar Gelbman, Place 5, Flower Mound Town Council.
Itamar Gelbman, Place 5, Flower Mound Town Council.

On Monday, October 17, 2016, five Master Plan Amendments (MPA) came before the Flower Mound Town Council. Two pertained to the Smith tract. Three regarded town design, building, and sign standards. Three design MPAs passed, but two Smith tracts failed. The fact that two MPAs failed was surprising. Since 2012 every single MPA has been approved.

Although the Smith tract MPAs were denied, council members can bring these items back for vote in the future. This re-vote tactic has been successfully deployed by Council Member Bryan Webb. When many residents speak against the MPA and see the MPA fail, they often disengage from the issue. They move on thinking they won their battle. What they don’t realize is a council member can disregard their prior objections and again submit the MPA for council approval. This is exactly what Council Member Webb has done – submit a failed project up for a re-vote just a few weeks later.

I have notable concerns with the following three Master Plan Amendments (MPAs) that Flower Mound Town Council passed 4-1 (me being the only “Nay”.)

Stucco – Urban Design Façade Materials (MPA16-0010)
This MPA opened the door for developers to build commercial properties using Stucco as the exterior product. Stucco has never been allowed in Flower Mound for commercial properties because it an inferior exterior product compared to stone and bricks. Stucco has a much shorter lifetime span and is much more demanding for long term maintenance. Stucco is a much cheaper product than stone and brick and many agree that it doesn’t look as good as stone and bricks.

Waivers – Urban Design Architectural Standards (MPA16-0011)
On paper this MPA seems like it might be good for our town. It allows developers who are applying for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification to receive a waiver from the Flower Mound’s Architectural Standards. Flower Mound is proud to be an Energy and Environmental leader. But, the council has approved that a developer can ask for the waivers if it scores the LEED standard of “gold”. Most people think of gold as being first place. Yet, per LEED, “gold” is a score of 60-79 points. Platinum is the highest, 80+ points.

Neon Signs – Prohibited Signs Amendment (LDR16-0003)
This MPA allows exposed neon signs which, prior to Monday, have been prohibited.  Prior to Monday, LED signs were allowed, but not neon which has a less desirable look.

Why Are We Lowering These Building Standards?
When we asked staff if any developer ever asked to build a stucco building in Flower Mound, they replied “no”. My concerns are, if no one ever asked for these exemptions (except for a few neon signs which were all denied), why are we lowering our standards for potential developments? Why are we lowering our standards for 60 points?

Flower Mound has been rated as one of the most desirable towns in which to live. Flower Mound has top rated schools and has been rated one of the safest towns in the country for many consecutive years. We should raise our standards – not lower them.

Upcoming High-Density Options
I continue to have concern with high-density projects, and another one will be coming to a vote in the next few weeks. A landowner who already received many MPA for his properties from low density to high density is now requesting a high-density project for lower income.

The developer and its representative quoted Council Members McDaniel, Webb, and Bryant as saying that they plan to fight to bring lower income housing to Flower Mound. Again, another act of disregarding the town ordinance and the Master Plan – not to mention the strain this will add to our public utilities and roads.

Local Propositions and Early Voting
On another note, early voting is underway. After voting for the president, judges, and so on, we have eight local propositions up for vote.

These are my personal endorsements and reasoning:

Prop 1: Town Council – “NO”. We already have term limits. Our term limits are three 2-year terms. If this proposition passes, it will change the term limits to two 3-years terms. If two-year terms are good enough for congressmen, why wouldn’t they be good enough for council-members?

Prop 2: Candidacy – “YES”. This will allow town employees to run for local office without resigning their positions unless they get elected.

Prop 3: Procedure for Determining Forfeiture – “NO”. Prop 3 will allow the council to be the judge, jury and executioners. This will be a presence of starting “big government” for our local elected officials.

Prop 4: Publication of Ordinances – “NO”, Transparency is important to have a trust relationship between the government and the residents. By voting “No” on this amendment, the town will have to continue publishing ALL ordinances adopted by the town.

Prop 5: Procedure for Removal of Municipal Judge – “NO”, again this will allow the council to be the judge, jury and executioners. We do not want that.

Prop 6: Petition Requirements – “NO”, Prop 6 will lower the amount of signatures needed for recalls for to a lower number than the voters who voted. With Flower Mound politics as it is, this will open Pandora’s box for every group that isn’t happy with the last election results and will be a strain on the town staff to administrate these petitions.

Prop 7: Parks, Arts and Library Board – “YES”, this is a house cleaning item.

Prop 8: Budget and Finance – “NO”, when staff prepares a budget and council approves it, they should be accountable for their budget. If an amendment needs to be made, it should be a public hearing to allow the residence to know how their money is being spent and the residence should hold the council and staff accountable for their actions.

Itamar Gelbman,

Place 5, Flower Mound Town Council

CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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