Forest: Ever wonder why every Town Council has amended Flower Mound’s Master Plan?

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Claudio Forest, Flower Mound Place 5 Councilmember

The answer to this question requires some background about our Master Plan…  Flower Mound’s Master Plan sets the central vision and guidelines for the Town’s development. It contains plans for land use (what can be built) design, parks and recreation, transportation and other infrastructure items like roads, water, and sewer.

In a nutshell, the Master Plan is a document and a plan for changing Flower Mound to meet the needs of current and future residents. From time to time the Town itself will initiate updates or amendments to the Master Plan. Typically, these amendments are related parks, transportation or other infrastructure.

Since 2001 when our Master Plan was adopted, the Town has very rarely initiated amendments related to land use. Instead the Town prefers that individual landowners request amendments along with any needed zoning if the landowner wants to build something that is not in accordance with the Master Plan. When residents, including my opponent, talk about Master Plan amendments it is usually these types of amendments they are referring to.

This approach allows the Town and its residents to give detailed feedback on the proposed development and work with the landowner to design a development that supports the Town’s goals related to sustainable growth, increasing its tax base and amenities for our residents to name a few.  Since 2001 a legend or even a myth has developed that the Master Plan should only be changed rarely if at all. My opponent believes this. Some of the current council members believe this as well. There is only one problem: it’s complete fiction. Several of Flower Mound’s best-known residential neighborhoods like Wellington and Bridlewood only exist because the Master Plan was amended.

The first amendment to the 2001 Master Plan was done less than a year after it was adopted. This amendment allowed for an office building to be built instead of the residential housing that had been planned for. Other amendments quickly followed including amendments that allowed for the construction of Target, Lowes, Home Depot, the Flower Mound Animal Adoption Center, Lifetime Fitness, and several residential neighborhoods. As you can see, the Master Plan has been consistently amended when the super majority of Town Council along with the majority of Planning and Zoning Commission believes what the landowner is proposing is better than what the Town had originally thought it should be.

So how do I determine if what a landowner is proposing is better than what the Town had planned? First it is not a decision that can be made quickly. Landowners work with staff, residents and other stakeholders for months designing their proposed projects. When reviewing amendments, I look at several factors including:

  • Have Master Plan amendments been approved for adjacent land that negatively impacts the landowner’s ability to implement the Town’s original plan?
  • What amenities will the landowner provide for Town residents? This could be parks, tree or environment preservation, road improvements, or like in the case of Lakeside DFW new restaurants and entertainment options like the movie theater.
  • Is the Town’s original plan still viable? A good example of this are large Corporate Campuses. These types of developments are rarely built now, instead large employers are demanding to be part of real mixed-use developments.
  • Will the proposed development provide something that is not readily available but needed in Flower Mound?
  • Will the Town’s original plan negatively impact nearby neighbors? In the last ten years master plan amendments have been approved that provided better transitions from existing neighborhoods to planned commercial developments.
  • Will the proposed development provide better tax revenue generation for the Town?
  • How will existing residents be affected? Will it be a net positive?
  • Does the town’s existing infrastructure (like roads and sewers) have the needed capacity or are upgrades needed? (This answer is provided by the required SMARTGrowth studies).

Answering these questions can take a lot of time and effort by Town staff, Council, boards and commissions, landowners and residents. Answering, let alone agreeing to these questions can be contentious at times.

Landowner requested Master Plan amendments are exhaustively vetted and it’s often not possible for all of the decision makers and stakeholders to agree on every request. However, Master Plan amendments have always been part of the process of changing Flower Mound so it meets the needs of our current and future residents for the best that Flower Mound is and will remain.

If you have any questions, please contact me at: www.facebook.com/claudioforestflowermound

Claudio Forest for Flower Mound
Place 5, Town Council

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