On Thursday evening the Forney Planning & Zoning Commission again discussed and debated a zoning change submitted by Petro-Hunt developers which would allow an increase the density of apartments built north of Highway 80.
Clearly aware that countless Forney residents do not want more apartments being built, Petro-Hunt Vice-president of Real Estate Development Alan Bain was not present at either Tuesday nights City Council meeting or Thursday nights Planning & Zoning meeting to speak on behalf of their proposed plans.
Director of Development Peter Morgan explained “This is on the north side of Highway 80. This is where at one time they discussed the retail and office area and going over to FM 548 where you currently have the multi-family currently existing.”
Morgan stated “One part of it is saying that they are willing to commit to a cap of 3,200 multi-family units and 5,000 would still be the number for overall residential units. But they are also requesting to remove that cap so that they can ‘cluster’ as they so choose. They’d still have to meet the overall requirements but in the smaller areas they could exceed that number.”
P&Z Commissioner Roger Wilkins stated “I cannot conceive anyway that they will build units that have garages underneath. Because where I see them going in right now, in Dallas and in other areas that I work, those apartments are $2,000 - $3,000 per month. And in order for them to build that garage on the inside, that’s what they need to basically make it feasible. I don’t see that happening in Forney.”
Commissioner Wilkins said “If they came back with plans I could see, or the specific plans they’re intending on using, then I’d believe them. Then I’d approve it. I’d be happy to support it. But we’re not going to have parking garages. We’re not going to have everything in the center, because it’s just not happening. If the developer came to us and said ‘here’s our plan, will you approve it’. But I feel like we’re approving something based on something that’s not ever going to happen.”
While discussing the zoning change, Commissioner Ann Lemons said “My concern is that there are so many people that are speaking out that don’t want apartments. They were promised retail, and I’ve heard all about why they can’t get retail. So we’re going to end up with apartments and houses, no retail and it’s a problem for our schools and our traffic, over and over again. So I can’t in good conscious vote for this.”
Next to express his frustration with Gateway developers, Commissioner Steven Cunningham said “Mr. Morgan the Gateway organization has come before us numerous times. So many in fact that I’ve lost count on how many times they’ve come out here. And they have always needed something for us to change in an ordinance. They’ve always needed to change this, or ask can we do this. On countless times they’ve come back for lack of a better term with their hand held out.”
Cunningham said “Wanting to change an ordinance; wanting us to allow one thing or another. Or we know this is what we originally said, but now we want to back up and go with this, or something of that nature. And I believe the words came out earlier about the trust factor.”
He said “What we do not have is a complete picture of what their idea is. What we do not have is the scope of what they have planned. All we see is what they want to give us. And with this proposed change in the amendment to allow this, well I’ll say it; this all comes down to a money deal. This is about money, pure and simple.”
Only one member of the P&Z Commission was in favor of further consideration of the zoning request.
Clearly lobbying for ongoing negotiations with Gateway developers, Commissioner Jon Carr said “Do we need to have Alan Bain and them come here to the P&Z and go through this very specifically and show us what they want?”
Carr said “They are going to be part of our lives, like it or not. We can’t get rid of them so we have to work with them somehow. Because it looks like the problem is a changing view, because I’ll admit I was not happy or pleased when we found out that the concept is a completely different vision. It’s changed several times.”
Finally agreeing, the Planning & Zoning Commission voted unanimously to table the item so that city attorney Jon Thatcher could check on the legal verbiage within the ordinance.
And to give Development Director Peter Morgan time to contact Petro-Hunt representatives to specifically request their presence at the next June 7,2018 meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission.
Written by: Denise Bell