Thanksgiving is a few weeks away. I wish you the blessings of family and friends as we celebrate the most American of holidays. I am thankful for the efforts of the elected leaders and the professional staff of our wonderful Town.
This column is the first of a series that unpacks the policy of the Town of Argyle that is captured in the Town’s Strategic Plan. Many new citizens have moved in recently, with more on the way. New citizens and longtime residents may have questions about the Town’s direction of travel and policy positions, which I will seek to address over the next few months.
Vision Statement and Strategic Plan
Let’s begin at the beginning. The Town of Argyle Vision Statement, adopted in 2018, is the foundation of the Strategic Plan that was developed by a committee led by Councilmember Dr. Cynthia Hermann in 2020.
It reads: The Town of Argyle is committed to preserving our small-town character and natural beauty through thoughtful growth, stewardship of resources, and a citizen-focused government.
Small-town character and natural beauty are difficult things to foster or preserve in one of the fastest-growing regions of the country. The leadership of Argyle is committed to these elements of our vision, however, and we are following concrete steps laid out in the Strategic Plan that we firmly believe will help us to achieve them for present and future citizens.
The Strategic Plan committee developed several objectives that are based on the vision statement. The objectives that appear in the document are linked and reinforce each other, but in this column, we will focus on Preserve Natural Beauty. Two specific activities in the Strategic Plan were developed by Councilmember Hermann’s committee that aim to support achieving the natural beauty objective.
(1.) Coordinate economic development incentive policies and land development regulations to reward the preservation of trees, viewsheds, creeks, and other natural features and (2.) Develop programs that focus on nature conservancy and stewardship of natural areas.
Fortunately, the Town has a head start when it comes to policies and programs that fit into these two activities. But let’s begin by considering why Argyle has natural beauty worth preservation.
The Town sits at the western edge of a narrow belt (10 to 30 miles wide) of post oak, blackjack oak, cedar elm and other tree species that extends from central Oklahoma to the northern edge of the Texas Hill Country, designated by naturalists as the Eastern Cross Timbers. Argyle’s share of the Cross Timbers is made up of trees that live on poor sandy or clay soils and rocky uplands and do not gain the height to have commercial value as timber.
The same soil conditions limited the value of the tree-covered belt for agriculture, so there was not much reason to disturb the trees and the understory that thrived below once settlers arrived in North Texas in significant numbers after the Civil War. The result – some of the trees in Argyle are remnants of an old growth forest, including post oaks that are 200 to 400 years old. The natural treescape of the Town has tremendous value as a unique part of our heritage – it is a gift from the past to the people who make their home in the Cross Timbers region.
National Arbor Day
As I write, we are a few days away from marking National Arbor Day, a celebration of the Cross Timbers. Argyle’s tree canopy covers approximately 30% of the Town’s land area. This is the third year that we have participated in the national event, and one part of our commitment to be recognized under the Tree City USA program. National Arbor Day activities include a tree giveaway and the dedication of trees in Argyle’s Unity Park by the Town and Argyle ISD.
National Arbor Day and Tree City USA are more than a symbolic gesture – they are an annual affirmation of the value that Argyle citizens place on the treescape that makes the Town unique and a concrete step toward achieving the goals of the Strategic Plan.
Argyle’s tree ordinance has been in place since 2017. The ordinance plays an important role in realizing the goals of the Strategic Plan. While the tree ordinance in its present form empowers Town leaders and professional staff to protect our tree canopy, a group of citizen volunteers led by Councilmember Rick Bradford and Planning & Zoning Commissioner Paul Kula are working toward improvements to the ordinance, targeted for adoption in January of 2022.
The tree ordinance has several specific purposes, including: Prohibit the indiscriminate clearing of property; Protect and increase the value of residential and commercial properties within the Town; Maintain and enhance a positive image for the attraction of new businesses and residents to the Town; Protect healthy mature trees and promote the natural ecological, environmental and aesthetic qualities of the Town; Preserve the rural forested character of the Town; That trees be protected as part of the subdivision and the platting process.
The ordinance designates protected trees and requires a permit to remove protected species. If the Town grants a permit for tree removal, mitigation is required to replace the tree with a tree or combination of trees that total the same caliper or diameter.
Building on the Town’s existing policy foundation, Argyle is committed to realizing the Strategic Plan objective of preserving natural beauty with new initiatives in the months ahead.
Argyle Seniors Update
Submitted by Stella McDaniel
The Seniors November luncheon will be on Friday, November 19 at Town Hall, 308 Denton Street. All seniors are invited. Everyone is asked to either bring a dish to feed 10 people or donate $5. If you plan to come, call or text Stella at 940-391-6686.
Some of the senior ladies enjoyed a Witch Party at Gale Schautteet’s home. Thanks Gale for such a lovely dinner. We are still trying to set a date for our Christmas luncheon and will let you know when ASAP. Yvonne Gamble has volunteered to do decorations and she will need help. We are still looking for help to do different things.
If you are interested please contact one of the Board members: Stella McDaniel, President, 940-391-6686; Karen Kiel, Vice President, 940-206-4563; Jody Bellinghausen, Secretary, 940-390-0765; or Gale Schautteet, Publicity, 817-905-7716.
Hope to see you at our Thanksgiving luncheon!