For several months now Forney Council Member Mary Penn has been spearheading the idea of building a connector roadway from Longhorn Street to the westbound US Highway 80 service road.
Constructed entirely of rental properties the taxpayers of Forney receive no residential tax revenue from the residents leasing homes within Brooklyn Village.
And because the City Council of 2008 approved the Brooklyn Village development without requiring the developer to build a connector road from his property to the Highway 80 service road, the taxpayers of Forney will now pay the price for another costly developer agreement error.
Proposing to spend between $1.3 and $2.3 million dollars to construct this connector roadway, during the March 6, 2018 council meeting Gary Hendricks with Birkhoff-Hendricks and Carter Consulting Engineers provided the council with two options for building the “baggage road”.
Detailing the project cost along with several right-of-way issues, Hendricks said “For example right-of-way acquisitions costs are one of our unknowns. Utility re-locations are another unknown. So I wanted to make sure you understood that the cost comparisons we gave you are more comparative in nature than final numbers.”
Two weeks later during the March 21, 2018 council meeting, political activist John Carr addressed the council on the subject and publicly assured the community that he had spoken with the affected business owners, as well as the developer of Brooklyn Village, about acquiring the necessary right of way property.
John Carr said “I went to Wendle and I went to my council member Penn and to the business owners and to Mr. Zedah, who owns the development, to see if it would be possible to put a route through these two lot’s that were undeveloped at the time. And I asked him if he thought it would be beneficial to them if we put an access road through there. And he said he thought it would be.”
Without any legal authority to negotiate on behalf of the City of Forney, John Carr said “So he (Mr. Zedah) has reserved two lots for the city, even though they could have built houses on them almost a year ago, for this project. And they are very much in favor of it. There were conversations with Rio Lerma and the cleaners and they are also in favor of it because it makes them community accessible.”
Questioning Carr, Mayor Rick Wilson said “You’re making representation for property owners that are not here, so I’m a little concerned about that. So are you representing the property owners?”
To which Carr replied “I spoke with them and this is what they told me. I want to be clear. I spoke with them and this is what they told me. Not only did they tell me, but Zedeh put his money where his mouth is and took those lots out of development so that the city could have them.”
Now at last week’s meeting of the Forney Council, Assistant City Manager Wendle Medford provided an update on exactly how these business owners really feel about selling their parking lot to the City of Forney to be used as a thoroughfare roadway for the residents of Brooklyn Village.
Assistant City Manager Medford said “Staff was looking into two different options for an access connection from the westbound frontage road of U S Highway through the back of the Brooklyn Village development, and then the Council added the Longhorn Extension to the city Thoroughfare Plan.”
Explaining Medford said “Shortly thereafter we met with Council Member Penn and she asked us to revisit this option of connecting the street extension to the frontage road from the back of Brooklyn Village. So we met with the property owner, Mr. Deshaun several times about the thoroughfare issue and showed him the concept plans, and he is not in support of the connector street or extension because he has plans to develop in the future and he would lose some valuable parking spots. So that’s where we’re now at.”
Medford said “And just as a reminder we now have two lots that the Brooklyn Village developer is holding out until we sort this out so we’ll need to get to a discussion on that so that the developer can move forward with the development of those lots. If we were to move forward with the extension then obtaining those lots would be required.”
Council Member David Johnson said “well it looks like we’re going to the limited because we have a uncooperative property owner. So we do have some other options, points of ingress and egress, I think we need to pursue those and move on with the planning.”
Written by: Denise Bell