Last month I shared with you the date for the Our Village, Our Vision Open House and I am happy to say we had an excellent response from the community with many of you attending and asking some really great questions.
The information we shared at the Open House is available on SpeakUpHV.com for those who were unable to attend. The rough draft plans were made available to the public in early October. We received comments from residents, Council, Planning & Zoning and staff. We shared those comments with McAdams staff who made changes to the Opportunity Area Plans, which are the remaining vacant tracts of land in Highland Village.
Some of you have asked why we are looking at different options for these opportunity areas. Put simply, how we develop these last tracts of land matter as we need to make sure every decision is considered in terms of economic viability and enhanced quality of life for our residents.
As we look at the cost of service for new development, consider that for every $1 of revenue received for a residential development, it costs the city $1.40 in service, and commercial development costs the city $.40. Additionally, residential development provides only property tax revenue while commercial development provides property tax, personal property tax and sales tax revenue, maximizing the fiscal value of the same tract of land.
As we move toward buildout city revenue will flatten and, like any business, expenses will continue to increase. These plans help the city provide development options in line with community and fiscal value.
Recently I was reminded of the history of our city. Highland Village has always been a bedroom community, which means we rely mostly on property tax to fund our city services. In the early 2000’s our leaders, the Council and Mayor made economic development a priority with the goal to increase the sales tax revenue received by the city in order to diversify so we did not rely totally on property tax revenue. The FM 407 corridor and specifically the intersections at FM 407 and FM 2499 were our opportunities and plans were developed to ensure a cohesive development with maximum potential.
In the mid 2000’s the city worked with developers to bring the multiple property owners together on each corner of FM 407 and FM 2499 to build what we see now as The Shops at Highland Village and The Marketplace. Walmart came to the table with interest in building at The Marketplace.
Some of you likely remember the outcry from our residents against the building of a Walmart in Highland Village. The thinking was the big box Walmart with their gray brick buildings and auto centers was not representative of Highland Village. The community spoke and city leaders and Walmart listened. What was developed was a Walmart in line with the values and style of Highland Village. Walmart built their first “upscale” store in Highland Village. The gray building was replaced with stone and brick in colors that match Highland Village. The auto center was not included and instead a bike shop adjacent to the trail connection was part of the store. Walmart saved the large pecan tree and built trails to connect to the city trail system. Today residents still call our Walmart the “fancy Walmart.” I share this story with you because it demonstrates the track record of our city and our leaders.
I was not on Council at the time these developments came, but I can tell you every Council since then has had the same goal and mindset – develop Highland Village in a manner that is representative of our community and our values and maximize our revenue potential in order to ease the property tax burden on our residents. This continues to be our goal. I know our residents continue to express their desire to keep Highland Village the quality lakeside community we know and love. When I brought my family back to Highland Village it was because I wanted them to experience the same city and benefit from the same community values that I had as a child growing up here. Despite all the growth and change our city has gone through over the years, it warmed my heart that Highland Village was still the same family-friendly, quaint lakeside community that I grew up in. Together we will plan for and build our city in a way worthy of the ideas shared by our residents and the work done by our past leaders.
I am appreciative of the work done in the Our Village, Our Vision planning process and the involvement of our residents. Council will discuss and consider the final plans at an upcoming meeting and we will have a public hearing when the plan is up for a vote as well. If you have not signed up yet, I encourage you to sign up for meeting notifications on the city website at highlandvillage.org/staynotified. If you have not registered on SpeakUpHV.com, that is the site used for everything related to the Our Village, Our Vision plans.
Our local business owners are gearing up for the holiday season. This is the busiest time for our retailers and restaurants and it is the perfect time for you to see what we have to offer in Highland Village. I hope you will make your plans to experience Highland Village as you prepare for holiday gatherings and gift giving. Keeping our sales tax dollars at home not only benefits the business owners who have chosen to set up shop in Highland Village, it also benefits our local economy.
We always receive questions about trash pickup during the holidays and this year Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on non-service days so there will be no disruption to the trash pickup schedule.
Finally, I have been very pleased with the turnout at the monthly Coffee with the Mayor at Sip-Stir Coffee House. I plan to continue to make myself available on the first Monday of every month from 8:30–9:30 a.m. at Sip-Stir. If you have questions or wish to share information with me, please stop by. This month I will be there on Monday, Dec. 5 and looking ahead to January, we will move to the second Monday of the month, which is Jan. 9.
I hope you and your family have a safe and wonderful Christmas and New Year!