It is told to me that some of the "Facebookers" that are against apartment development in Rowlett don't really exist. I am told they are fictitious and names are created solely for the defeat of apartments. Folks, I guess that's kinda smart, but really, really, sad. It suggests that there is a conscious effort to organize and plan citywide to defeat all future apartment development.
Apartments are not bad. They serve a very special need that any major community might have. Even very small towns have some need for rental units. Can apartment projects be bad for a neighborhood? Of course they can. It all depends on the management and the code enforcement of the individual projects. Overwhelmingly, most owners want their property well maintained and filled with good tenants. Good managers want good performance out of their apartments because they will get fired by the above owners if good management is absent. Finally, good tenants want to live in good apartment projects. None of the above are exaggerations. They are simple concepts that any intelligent observer should be able to recognize.
Are there exceptions? Of course, but usually the exceptions are located in very bad neighborhoods. Most are old projects that deteriorated right along with the neighborhoods they were in. They did not cause the deterioration. Economics did. The same economic forces that worked on the neighborhood worked against the apartment project at the same time. We live in a MSMA (Major Statistical Metropolitan Area) of several million people. In the entire Dallas/Ft. Worth area, I would love to see any evidence whereby an apartment project caused the deterioration of any neighborhood. ANY EVIDENCE. Apartments are structures. They are inanimate objects. They don't cause any problems. Management of those apartments and other economic forces CAN.
So, why does any community need apartments? Because single family detached houses do not provide appropriate housing for everyone.
When I was in college, I lived in a fraternity house. That was appropriate for the time. Right after college, I neither wanted, nor could I afford to buy a house. I had no idea where my new career was going to take me. I was excited. I actually had positive cash flow. I had interned with a real estate appraisal company during my senior year and was offered a permanent job after school. I was extraordinarily happy. In order to save on living expences, a fraternity brother and I shared an apartment in Indianapolis. We were proud of our apartment and the project in which we lived. It was in an upscale area of Indianapolis, and many new young families and fresh new faces gathered there. Under no circumstances did I consider myself apartment trash. But.....I was an apartment dweller. A happy apartment dweller.
After my dad passed on, my mom stayed in the house for a few years. The house was becoming too much for her to maintain. She lived in a town of 15,000 people. There was an apartment project of about 150 units in town. It was for seniors of 55 years of age, or older. Mom sold the house for not much by today's standards, but it gave her a little nest egg and she moved into the apartments. She absolutely loved it!! Many of her friends of her age already lived there. They had a large community room where many gathered each day for games and conversation. They had a great place to invite other friends that lived in their town. Much of her loneliness disappeared. The apartments were very good for mom. She subsequently moved here to be close to the grandkids and lived 15 years in the Chiesa Road project that is now causing so much scorn because it will be bad for the community. Mom died at age 93. I really miss her and her sense of good humor.
In both stories above, apartments played a part. Apartments served a good purpose in both stories. The apartment living for both myself and my mom provided very needed accommodations.
Yet, the stupidity of some citizens provides the basis of their complaints that ALL APARTMENTS ARE BAD. They say that all apartments cause nothing but problems. That is blatantly untrue. I don't know why they do this. Partly its ignorance, but partly its something else. I believe it is motivated by fear of change. In the case of the Chiesa Road proposal, the naysayers know about the mobile home park and have accepted it "as is." They have learned to cope. However, if apartments are built there, everything changes. They don't know if they can cope with the change, so they just deny it by protesting. They know well managed apartments don't cause problems. But it doesn't stop there. They want ALL additional apartments banned from the city. That is incredibly stupid. Rowlett is not near overbuilt with apartments. Even with the current number of units being considered, Rowlett will only be about half of the national average of apartments vs. houses.
I have been told, and it has been insinuated by others, that I am totally "pro-apartment." That's not true, either. I am application specific. Some projects work on certain locations with certain financial plans. Some don't. I have been involved in two apartment projects that I was against in the best interest of Rowlett. One was a 225 unit project near the corner of Rowlett Road and Lakeshore Parkway. I spoke against it because of the proposed involvement of the Dallas Housing Authority in the financing package. It failed. Very recently, I wrote City Council email about another 88 unit project on Rowlett Road near the funeral home. The developer was a good developer, but there was much better suited land for the financing program presented to Council. However, only one project could survive the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs scoring system. I only asked for a delay of the motion until the second site could be reviewed. Council went further and just plain denied it.
Folks, were at a critical point in a critical path for Rowlett. The road splits here. We can take the road down sensible development savvy using our brain. We can consider providing housing for the very well to do, the young families just starting their lives together, and providing comfortable and cordial housing for our Seniors. They are all part of Rowlett. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people need the housing.
Or, we can take the path of ignorance. If you believe the naysayers and Bastille Stormers, we will deny any further apartment development because "they are bad." If a loud enough voice is heard, there is a real possibility that 58% of our City Council will vote with the naysayers. Why? Because they are running for office. Four of the seven voters on City Council are running for office. They might throw the needs of hundreds of Rowlett citizens under the bus for a few votes. This path is a real possibility.
So, what do you want for Rowlett? I can't knock on every door in Rowlett. If you believe my side of the story, you gotta help me out. Write the Planning and Zoning Commision and the City Council and tell them what you think. Right now, Council might think the naysayers are the smart ones. One thing I promise you. I will follow the votes of P&Z and City Council and tell you exactly how each one voted and why. You need to know which ones "serving Rowlett" have IQs of over 80.
It's in your hands.