Sunday, September 26, 2021

Argyle residents worry about Furst Ranch’s impact on school district

Furst Ranch concept plan.

Residents in the Argyle school district are petitioning the town of Flower Mound in opposition to the proposed Furst Ranch development because they’re worried about the impact it would have on Argyle ISD and the area’s infrastructure.

Furst Ranch is a 2,000-acre piece of land at the intersection of FM 1171 and Hwy 377. The longtime ranchland owner, Jack Furst, envisions an enormous mixed-use development on the land with an estimated 2,832 single-family homes, 520 townhomes, 760 condos, 4,000 apartments, 2 million square feet of business parks, 1.6 million square feet of office and nearly 1 million square feet of retail. While it’s mostly in the town of Flower Mound, it’s entirely in the Argyle ISD boundaries.

Argyle ISD, a 4A district with a current enrollment of about 3,800, is already struggling to keep up with growth. It just opened a new elementary school in Harvest last school year, and another is expected to open next year. The Furst Ranch development, as presented, could mean an additional 3,000 students over a 10-year period, starting as soon as 2024. School sites for Argyle ISD are included in the Furst Ranch plan.

A resident started a change.org petition to “Stop Furst Ranch Development in AISD,” and got 500 signatures in 18 hours. It’s currently near 1,500 signatures and a group has mobilized to oppose the development. The group’s spokesperson, Ashlee Rivers, said she knows that it is unlikely that the property could be de-annexed from Argyle ISD. The legal process for de-annexation is complicated, but, among other things, it would need Jack Furst’s support, which it does not have.

“I don’t want the residents of Furst Ranch to be a part of any school district other than Argyle ISD,” Furst said. “We’re working hard to accommodate Argyle ISD’s needs, and we have been doing so for two years.”

So, Rivers said, the group is hopeful that Furst Ranch will reduce its housing density and the number of people it will have living there, because Argyle ISD is in debt, and she worries that Furst Ranch could make the debt worse, to the point that the district may have to be absorbed by a larger school district.

“If we keep going down the path we’re going down and adding debt, in 10 years, Argyle ISD won’t be around,” Rivers said.

The Flower Mound Town Council and Planning & Zoning Commission are holding a joint work session Thursday night for presentations and discussion regarding Furst Ranch. Multiple Argyle Town Council members are expected to attend the meeting and address the Flower Mound town officials.

“The Argyle Town Council is very concerned about the negative impacts a development of this magnitude would have on the quality of life of our citizens including the adverse impact of traffic, regional sewage capacity and on the Argyle Independent School District,” the town said in a news release this week.

TxDOT is planning to expand Hwy 377 from two lanes to a four-lane divided highway through southern Denton County. An overpass will be built for Hwy 377 to cross over FM 1171. There will be access roads on both sides of Hwy 377 to connect to FM 1171.

Many Flower Mound residents and mayoral candidates are also opposed to the density — specifically the number of apartments — of Furst Ranch. Some of them are also expected to address the Town Council and P&Z Commission on Thursday. The joint session — during which neither council nor P&Z will take any action — is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at Flower Mound Town Hall. Click here to live stream the meeting.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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