Thursday, November 17, 2011
Plano residents find mega development thoroughfare “disconcerting”
Some of those living in Kings Ridge say The Colony did not give them adequate notice or explanation.
Already concerned about the ramifications of a $1.5 billion development in their backyards, residents from Kings Ridge and neighboring Plano subdivisions learned on Tuesday that The Colony also has plans to extend a four-lane, divided highway closer to them than expected.
In a joint meeting among The Colony's city council, planning and zoning commission, community development and economic development corporations and the tax reinvestment zone board, the city unanimously passed a laundry list of ordinances and amendments paving the way for alterations to the city's Master Thoroughfare Plan designed specifically for the upcoming $1.5 billion retail development. The plan would essentially extend Headquarters Drive over the Burlington Northern Railroad through the development south of State Highway 121 to Plano Parkway.
Kings Ridge residents grew frustrated during the meeting, however, when maps provided by Director of Development Services Mike Joyce made it difficult to tell exactly how far the road would be from their backyards, leading many to question their vagueness.
"I hold the council responsible for the remission of information," Kings Ridge resident Vivian Patridge told the council. "I can't believe you don't know where the roads are going to land or where the next step is. I just think that perhaps all of this has been shadowed and you have not been forthright in sharing this information. Maybe you feel you don't have to but I feel like this is very wrong."
Patridge and other residents from Kings Ridge, Kings Gate and neighboring communities made full use of the public hearings to express how the city's partnership with Berkshire Hathaway to build a Nebraska Furniture Mart outlet on the site will impact residents along its border. The Nebraska Furniture Mart will feature two stories and a footprint of approximately 1 million square feet with 2 million square feet of structure. In addition to the mega store, the development will also attract a sprawl of retail, hotel, and entertainment uses still to be determined.
Kings Ridge resident Andrea Mills said she was disheartened by the way she felt neighboring subdivisions have been left out of the decision-making process, claiming the city did not provide them with enough notice regarding details surrounding the new thoroughfare. Councilman Jeff Connelly reiterated the fact that the city's 825-page agenda packet for Tuesday's meeting, as well as the correct meeting time, were posted to the city's website last week, giving area residents ample time to review.
"My biggest concern obviously is that this is going to get passed, and the way things have gone this evening, everything is going to get passed," Mills said. "We have not been given any opportunity to give our input and we're just now looking at these slides. Our homes are being impacted and we are getting fuzzy maps and no reference points."
City staff met with Kings Ridge residents after the meeting to further the dialogue regarding the road and promised to provide them with copies of a more readable map as soon as possible.
In a regular meeting of the Denton County Commissioners Court on Tuesday, the court unanimously approved The Colony's development agreement with Berkshire Hathaway. Commissioner Ron Marchant said the court will be voting at its next meeting Nov. 22 to determine who will fill the county's two seats on the TIRZ board.
Marchant said his recommendation to the court will be to appoint a resident from the Plano neighborhoods bordering the development, but that the ultimate decision will rest with the court.
Kings Ridge Homeowner Association President Bill Kula said that was encouraging and he hopes the neighborhood receives similar commitments from the other parties involved. Kula said he has been in contact with representatives from Nebraska Furniture Mart, who also agreed to participate in meetings with neighboring residents as the project matures, stating it wants "to be part of something that is beautiful and not an eyesore."
"I'm pro economic development and job growth and welcome this opportunity for North Texas but it's tempered with my desire to preserve and protect the financial value of nearby residential communities that border or are located near the proposed development," Kula said. "Good corporations and well-run cities and counties work closely with citizens. That's what neighbors are seeking from the city of The Colony staff, Denton County officials, the developer and Nebraska Furniture Mart staff."
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