On Tuesday night the Forney City Council appointed former Council Member Andy Parker to the Architectural Review Board (ARB), where he joined former Council Member James Hatley who was appointed to the ARB at the City Council’s February 19, 2019 meeting.
The appointment of these two former council members to the ARB was designed as a last minute attempt to help former mayor Darrell Grooms obtain a denial on restoration plans being presented by new McKellar house owners, Danny and Shellie Sellers.
Countless Forney residents are excited to see the historic McKellar home finally undergoing restoration, and many have expressed anger at hearing how the Sellers have for the past three months received the “run-around” by city administrators.
On Wednesday night a whirlwind of bad feelings came to a boiling point when brand new ARB member’s James Hatley and Andy Parker tried to again steer the Sellers back to the Texas Historical Commission for structural design guidance.
The majority of the disagreement centers on the fact that new owner Danny Sellers wants to enlarge the front and back porches by three feet, and former homeowner Darrell Grooms is adamantly against the porch enlargements.
This is the Sellers third time addressing the AR Board so tempers quickly began unraveling when ARB Member James Hatley asked the applicant; “Do we have something that the State requires us to go by?”
To which Danny Sellers responded, “I don’t know, you guys have all the requirements. You should have something that shows what all the requirements are. You’re the Historical Board.”
Responding Hatley said “I’m not talking about our requirements. I’m talking about the state. Does the State supersede us from a policy stand point?”
Explaining what the State of Texas Historical Commission had informed the family, Stacey Sellers-Stephens stated “From my understanding the development of this board, the reason that you have this committee, is because that is your purpose, in this instance. Your purpose is to approve plans.”
A very heated forty-five minute discussion ensued while the AR Board considered the third set of architectural drawings to be submitted by the Sellers.
Clearly angry and defensive, addressing the AR Board Darrell Grooms stated “My biggest concern is keeping the porches the way they are. What I would ask this board to do. Whatever decision is made tonight, that you’re very specific on what is and is not allowed. And that you leave nothing up to ownership judgment.”
Grooms said “I’d ask this board to keep the front porches the size they are. Yes, they need to be rebuilt. They can be rebuilt the size they are. Everything can be added like it was. But I would ask that you be very specific about the changes being made and leave nothing, including the materials used, up to the owner.”
Reacting to the Board’s obvious favor for Grooms, pointing at Grooms, Danny Sellers said “Ok, you’re going to win again. I’ll just put the house up for sale tomorrow. I’ll just sell it to the first person who wants to buy it, for commercial or whatever. I’ll have to get all those drawings done again; more thousands of dollars that I will have to spend to get an approval on some porches.”
Danny Sellers said “The thing that is important to me is that I spent $325,000 and I’m not getting to do anything except what Darrell Grooms wants. I wish he would have just kept the house. I have no clue why he sold it. He is the one person in this town that is not going to let me do what I want to do, so I wish he’d have just kept the house. We took our life savings to move here, and here I am begging one person for approval. If he’d walked in here tonight and said he liked it, you all would have said ‘go for it’. I guaranteed you would have.”
Too upset to continue conversing Danny Sellers temporarily left the room.
Speaking passionately to the AR Board about why her parents bought the McKellar house, Stacey Sellers-Stephens said “We didn’t want them to move here. But they said this was their dream. They were going to move to Forney. They came down here and they fell in love. They went and ate at this Mama’s Daughter’s and they talked to people and they were in love with Forney.”
Stacey Sellers-Stephens said “The run-around goes on and on and each drawing cost thousands of dollars. I feel like there is not going to be a yes, or no, today. So it’s still going to be, now go to the state and see if its approved and then come back for the next meeting in another month.”
Finally sympathizing with the plight of this family, Architectural Review Board Members James Hatley and Andy Parker conceded and put forth a motion to approve the restoration plans, with the enlarged porches included, as long as the enlarged porches were not disallowed by the state historical commission.
Written by: Denise Bell