Last week the Forney Planning and Zoning Commission was both unapologetic and unconcerned when several residents objected to the newest Petro-Hunt development, covertly known as “Project Fireball”.
To be specific, when City Council Member’s Shaun Myers and Mary Penn could not persuade P&Z Commissioner’s Ann Lemons, Justin Bowen and John Carr to stop supporting the residents who do not want anymore apartments built within the Gateway Project; they simply removed these appointed individuals from the P&Z Commission and replaced them with pro-developer commissioners Mike Thomas, Misty Holler and Anthony Shimkus.
Having attended hundreds of P&Z meetings over the years, it’s painful to watch this very important commission turn into a full blown dog and pony show whose sole purpose seems to be to satisfy Hunt representatives Alan Bain and John Blackburn.
Similar to cringing while watching a bad B movie, it’s hard to sit through these meetings because they are being conducted with little or no concern for the opinions of city taxpayers.
Consistently and unprofessionally wearing a t-shirt and ball cap, P&Z Commission meetings are now led by local barbecue restaurant owner Mike Thomas, who demonstrates an obvious lack of understanding for the rules which govern Public Hearings.
Alternating between interrupting citizens like John Carr whom he didn’t agree with and condescendingly appeasing others with his politically approved talking points; Thomas’ actions at this meeting were being quietly monitored by Council Member Shaun Myers and city attorney Jon Thatcher, both of whom were seated near Hunt legal representatives within the audience.
P&Z Commissioner's Mike Thomas and Misty Holler along with Council Member’s Mary Penn and Robbie Powers will again try to convince the public that because they’ve lived here for most of their lives, they have some degree of superior knowledge about what is best for the future development of this community.
It’s disturbing to recognize that as community leaders these individuals seem totally oblivious to the fact that hundreds of families have bought very expensive homes in Forney within the past decade. These new residents want to be part of the Forney community and many of them bought homes here because they believed the retail development rhetoric that was being publicly spouted by the City Council and Petro-Hunt developers.
It’s offensive to hear appointed officials, such as Mike Thomas and Misty Holler speak as if the new residents of Forney have a lessor voice, opinion or right to question the development currently being thrust upon them by this developer.
The taxpayers of Forney have a right to question this deal and about a half-dozen residents, a few of which live in Gateway Parks, stepped forward to ask several questions about this distribution center and the manner in which it will impact their property values.
For years Hunt representatives repeatedly promoted retail development within the Gateway Project and now that they can’t deliver it they’ve decided to build a 24 hour, 1.2 million square foot trucking distribution center that will service approximately 150 trucks per day.
Apparently now that many Forney taxpayers are screaming on several social media outlets about the Hunt's "broken promises", Hunt representatives Alan Bain and John Blackburn will not even appear before the P&Z Commission to promote their latest project plans.
Instead this developer has hired a new law firm to speak for them, and decided to use a project code name and a confidentiality agreement to keep the project moving forward without telling the citizens of this community exactly what will be "distributed" through this location.
Hunt attorney Shannon Field Quine from the Dallas law firm Jackson Walker LLP explained that her client was applying to rezone the property located at Highway 80 and CR 212 from Agricultural to Light Industrial/Multi-family Use.
A lengthy conversation ensued with the citizens at this meeting in which Hunt representatives absolutely refused to reveal the name of the distribution company that will operate from the property, or explain what will be stored and transported from the mega-size warehouse.
Only newly appointed P&Z Commissioner Cecil Chambers voted against approving the requested zoning change, which gave the ordinance a 4-1 P&Z Commission approval.
The Forney City Council will now consider final approval of this latest Petro-Hunt requested zoning change at their next meeting on Tuesday night.
Written by: Denise Bell