If you read the above definition, you did not see the word "construction" anywhere. One of my emerging pet peeves is to hear some of our city dignitaries say the quality of construction is "assured by Form Based Codes." That statement is completely misleading. You can buy the best 2x4's money can buy to put into a building, but if you don't protect that 2x4 from the weather, it will fail. If you put two 2x4's together to double the strength, they will both fail at the same time if not protected from the weather. The best materials available, when assembled by monkeys, will fail very early. Form Based Codes do not control monkeys.......or workmanship.
I first run into the predecessor of Form Based Codes in the mid-80's while working on the development of a subdivision in Scottsdale. It was brand new to me.......and also Scottsdale. Even local authorities were unskilled in their use. Trying to comply drove both sides of the table nuts. I thought it was just another "fad" blown by the wind across the California border. Well, it took root and now it's a real "fad" with growth spurts. Basically, Form Based Codes address density, foot traffic, and close commercial development. It works best when land is at a premium and developable tracts are small.
We finally struck a compromise in Arizona that everyone thought would work. We only had marginal success. There were still too many people that didn't want to live in a townhouse or patio home. Condos were practically devil worship. If a customer came into one of our builder's models from Boston or Philadelphia, everything was loved. If they came in from Flagstaff, they took a shower immediately after leaving. There were more people moving in from rural areas than from urban areas. That was Phoenix in the mid-80's......but I learned.
Now, come forward to Rowlett in 2015. Rowlett "officialdom" seems absolutely drunk with enthusiasm as provided by Form Based Codes. They are touted as the greatest thing since canned beer.
People, I have nothing against Form Based Codes.......when used judiciously. By far, they work best in high density areas. I think they will work fine in Downtown Rowlett, probably on the land east of the Community Center, some areas of the "Healthy Living" area, and the Robertson Park area. These are areas in which the density already exists, or the land parcels are small, or the land is too expensive and density has to be created. However, I do not see where Form Based Codes does much good in a cow pasture. There is a certain percentage of population that is fine with high density and I wish to have those products available for potential citizens. On the other hand, I don't think it's wise to tell someone moving in from Wichita Falls that they have to buy a townhouse to live in Rowlett. In fact, people trying to move here from Phoenix would probably chose other than Rowlett to live if all we had was high density living.
Our previous city manager absolutely took over ownership of Rowlett. She decreed that all land in Rowlett must be high density. In my opinion, she coerced our consultants that were running Rowlett 2020 into giving her what she wanted instead of what was best for Rowlett. This was a serious misstep. I think I was already out of office when the final vote was taken. If not, I need my butt kicked for not throwing a wall eyed fit about "wall to wall" zoning. We have now succeeded in blocking out all large upscale subdivisions. We have very little, if any, chance at providing housing for executives that are part of the 20,000 new jobs being created 20 minutes of nonstop driving to the north. What a boned headed move!!
Now we have the biggest story to hit Rowlett since it's inception. We will soon annex the land that was Robertson Park. It is proclaimed by "officialdom" that it will be a huge success because of Form Based Codes. I would be a little uneasy about crediting FBC as the beacon of light that will assure success of Robertson Park. I do not see where our "Officialdom" has much experience in such things. We are still waiting on our first FBO subdivision, that is running way behind schedule, IMO. This subdivision hasn't even been market tested, yet. It is our "cattle pasture" subdivision with FBO. I wish it well, but I'm not convinced it will be a runaway success. We have two other subdivisions, but they are awkward to get to from the tollway.
So, here we are with Robertson Park. It is just absolutely scary to me that Rowlett's Planning and Development gurus might have too much say so over development. We simply don't have the experience to sit in the captain's chair for such a development. I would much rather trust the developer......you know, the guys that make their living doing such things. In reading past Staff Reports for City Council meetings, often I notice a reference made to "the city's Form Base Code consultant." If memory serves me, it is called Townscape, Inc. Does anybody know who they are? I do, but I think most people don't. They are the "experts" that advise the city on FBC. They are not elected, or appointed. I presume they don't work for free. Don't you think you ought to know more about them and what they cost? Also, I would want to know their involvement in Robertson Park land. Do you think we have a right to know? It's your tax money that's paying them.
I just don't want someone running rough shod over things in which there is limited experience. At least we ought to know who they are.
I very much want Rowlett to succeed. I want the developer in Robertson Park to succeed. However, I want to keep the monkey population to a minimum. .