Serenity strikes out

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The concept plan for the proposed Serenity cluster development, provided by the town of Flower Mound. It is located along the west side of High Road, near the shore of Lake Grapevine.

At its Nov. 20 meeting, the Flower Mound Town Council agreed with the Planning & Zoning Commissioners’ recommendation a week earlier to deny the rezoning request from Agricultural to Planned Development for the Serenity development, proposed for a location west of High Road and north of Lake Grapevine, within the Cross Timbers Conservation Development District (CTCDD).

The Town Council vote was unanimous against the rezoning request; as had the P&Z Commission’s been the previous week. In addition, many of the public speakers at the council meeting were the same High Road neighbors who spoke against the development the previous week.

The 29-acre residential cluster development is for: 16 single-family lots on individual septic systems; 15-acres or 54-percent of open space, more than the required 50-percent; a 25-foot-wide landscape buffer; and, split-rail fence along High Road– all in accordance with the Town’s Urban Design standards.

Development Services Executive Director Doug Powell said that the technical issues for re-zoning Serenity have been approved by the Development Review Committee (DRC), but that doesn’t address the policy issues.

Powell’s reference to the “spirit” of the CTCDD and the existing High Road neighborhoods’ existing aesthetics led Council member Jason Webb to ask: “Has there been any change in your plan after hearing from the public at the P&Z meeting?”

“No, we haven’t made any changes,” said Tracy LePiene, project engineer with Ridinger Associates, as the two-time representative on behalf of absent local developer, Reginald Rembert. “It’s a unique community consistent with the Cross Timbers Conservation Development District standards.”

However, it’s also a gated community with a six-foot wrought-iron fence surrounding the homes, 25-feet inside the “country-style” split-rail fence. In addition, the Master Plan requires: “a continuation or connection of open-space of adjacent developments,” which Serenity doesn’t satisfy.

Powell added that addressing an existing drainage problem hasn’t yet been addressed by the developer.

Matt Woods, director of Environmental Services, said the town had contacted the developer about some light grading that has been done on the site and they were cited for the violation.

Council member Bryan Webb said: “I really don’t like gates and the plan with two-acres lots can’t be ‘cookie-cutter-ed’ out. It’s a beautiful piece of land, but it’s difficult.”

Mayor Pro Tem Don McDaniel wasn’t as concerned by the gate itself, as much as its effect.

“Just because you have an option, doesn’t mean you have to take it,” he said. “My issues with this … it’s the way the fence and the gate segregate it [from the surrounding area] and the amount of 12-percent slope encroachment– 10 of the 16 properties– is too much.”

Council member Claudio Forrest agreed that the developer’s slope encroachment was too invasive, saying it’s a problem for him when someone wants to change an existing property to such a degree; just pick another property.

Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Bryant pointed out a different cluster development that “listened” to the land and fit the slopes in the plan successfully.

“It’s a unique property in a unique part of town,” said Jason Webb. “A cluster development is a tool to protect areas, but this development doesn’t fit.”

The major concerns voiced by the existing High Road residents were: the increased traffic on a narrow two-lane road; the flooding issue along High Road; the lack of views from a designated scenic road; and, how a gated development doesn’t fit with the surrounding sense of community spirit.

LaPiene said the decision to make the project a gated community was to help sell the homes at a certain price point.

This was the second public meeting at which not one person supported this development at this location.

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