Concern posed some legitimate questions that would occur to any homeowner that was unsure about what the real estate around them was about to become. Concern used declarative sentences, but I saw them more as questions.......valid questions. I am disappointed that staff or P&Z didn't take time to explain some of the issues a little better. They didn't say a word. Of course, they and the consultants were predisposed to recommend against approval, anyway. However, City Council is a different matter. That is the place where the academic discussion is shared with the citizens and taxpayers of Rowlett, pros and cons.
There was virtually no debate. The presentation from staff was just awful. The mayor suggested some of the info presented might be a little misleading. He then emphasized that he only wanted facts during the discussions. He cleared up some of the staff representations.mmHowever, Chris Kilgore, with his excellent presentation whether you agree with him or not, gave his reasons for voting for the zoning request. Chris' opinion was borne out by the facts as he saw them. . Todd then announced he was voting for the request. Carl Pankrantz said something I didn't understand. He just rambled on and on, and voted against the zoning request. Carl even called his own witness from the peanut gallery (Jim Grabenhorst, Economic Development). I have never seen that before. Debbie Bobbit and Michael Gallups didn't say anything and voted for the request, and Doug Phillips and Tammy Dana-Bashion said nothing and voted against the request to rezone.
Below is a link to the discussion. Go to about 15 minutes into 8-B part 2 of 2 to pick up Chris and Carl's comments. Go to about 18:30 of 8-B part 1 of 2 to see Todd's comments. It is worth your review. They made the only commentary.
Here's what I find extremely interesting. The rezoning proposal was to be a $80 million development when completed in about 5-6 years. It would begin immediately to place value on the tax base. It would average putting $12 million to $14 million a year, plus bring in the disposable income that the upper income families would have bought to the city. Yet, in the discussion period held for the benefit of the citizens, only three people had something to say. Four did not. Where in the world was any discussion?!! Didn't anybody talk about this thing before a vote was taken? Didn't they think the citizens had a right to know their reasons?!! Four councilpersons did not say a word....not a peep......but two voted for the proposal and two voted against the proposal. Where in the world did they decide on the pros and cons about an $80 million deal?
I have an idea. Ann Richter, one of the consultants, was at the November 19 City Council meeting. However, she did not appear in the public hearing nor the Work Session. I think she was invited into the Executive Session which is blocked from public view. Ms. Richter wasn't there that night just for a stroll thru the halls of city hall. The Executive Session is to allow City Attorney and City Council to discuss legal issues........not pros and cons of zoning issues that the public is entitled to observe. I think inviting Ann Richter, who is clearly hostile to anything other than Office/Warehouse development in the area, constituted an illegal meeting. I think that's where the discussion was held about the subject rezoning issue. The public was entitled to hear that discussion. The agenda said the meeting with city attorney on the subject property was for "legal advice of fiscal remodeling and zoning."
Case against rezoning per staff:
1. The residential would encroach upon commercial development. (When? What commercial development?)
2. "Area is waiting on commercial development." (When? 10 years? 20 years? 40 years? As stated elsewhere in other pages of this blog, Where's the facts?)
3. This is a good one. "excessive proliferation of use of residential development." And all this time you thought we didn't have smart people on staff. Who decided that? However, still opinion.......no facts.
Below is my analysis.
McEntee Ranch analysis:
Site and plan: Stipulated. (52 acre and 16 acre sites, totaling 68 acres).
Current use: Pasture
Surrounding area: Large lot residential, average price in area estimated at $275-300K. Some units estimated at $500K. Surrounded on three sides by $250K+ houses. Pasture to north, new landscaped boulevard between proposed subdivision and pasture. Proposed housing is, on the average, more expensive than existing housing in neighborhood.
Market analysis: The land is poorly located for retail or office. The traffic would have to be circular in nature because only residential areas are available in which to dump “pass thru” traffic. Areas with drainage issues would be too expensive for industrial development. A more suitable commercial development would be apartments, however, considerable opposition could be expected. The land is more suitable for mid-density single family detached, ranging in price from $280K to $500K. There would be exclusive entry and 14% park land. Avg. sales price….$360K+. Market would be Tollway orientated.
Current resident questions/objections: Crime, Traffic, Real estate values, small houses and small lots, and small misc. was the basis for opposition. P& Z should have addressed these questions. They did not. Therefore, Council has no feedback from P&Z.
Crime: Potential purchasers will be as concerned about buying into a community with high crime rate as existing residents worry about the bringing in of crime…….perhaps more so. Potential buyers, spending $350K+ will drive the existing neighborhood looking for evidence of crime. They don’t want to move into a high crime area. Both sides have exactly the same question.
Crime is not considered an issue.
Traffic: Only very minor traffic will enter Toler Road and only to access the subdivision utilizing Berryman Road. This very modest traffic (if any) will accommodate traffic for a handful of lots located near the intersection of Berryman Road and the nearest street of the proposed subdivision. This traffic would only come from motorists traveling east on Hickox and wishing to take minor shortcut to new lots near Berryman. This traffic would be very modest…..perhhaps non-existant. It is suggested that anyone driving on Toler Road to access the new subdivision (other than the modest Berryman traffic) is not smart enough to purchase a $350K house. Toler Road does not go to the new subdivision. It circumvents it. The only access to the new subdivision from Toler Road is Berryman.
There is practically no anticipation of any increased use of Larkin Road First, Larkin is a terrible road. It is in great need of repair. Any new residents to the proposed subdivision will most certainly use the new, landscaped, boulevard exiting to the south. In fact, any existing residents suggesting the closure and fencing of Larkin Road at its current terminus will have successfully blocked off current Larkin Road residents from using the new landscaped shortcut to the tollway. This would not be my recommendation. It is my suggestion that southwest Larkin Road residents would welcome the new boulevard. It’s a shortcut to the tollway, and a heck of a lot smoother to drive on.
Traffic should not be considered to be a major concern to existing residents. There is just no reason to use Toler Road or Larkin Road, except for the modest Berryman
traffic, if any.
Real Estate Values: Most of the concerns about falling property values seemed to center on the small dwelling size and small lot size on some portion of the development. Actually, these sizes were imposed by the City of Rowlett, not the developer. This writer happens to know that the smallest house the developer had in his portfolio at the time of application was 2,005 square feet. New product was going to have to be developed to comply with the city’s 1500 square foot requirement. It is the developer’s intention to design these smaller units for the much needed Senior Housing. This is also a need identified as sorely needed in Rowlett. These are not entry level tract houses, but very upscale, very well appointed smaller homes for Seniors that do not want to mow one acre of grass when it’s 100 degrees, or maintain 3,000 square feet of house when they only live in 1,500 square feet. This area could be gated, separately landscaped with its own HOA, and in my opinion, should have a golf cart recharge station.
These units would be very luxurious and be the lowest priced units in the subdivision. Prices would escalate upward from there.
It is estimated that in general, the average price of the proposed subdivision would exceed the average price of existing and surrounding homes by approximately $75K. Therefore, this writer’s nearly 50 years of experience is of the opinion that the proposed subdivision will enhance the values of surrounding homes by $20-$30K. These values might be further enhanced by improved access to the Tollway.
Real Estate values should improve with the development of the proposed subdivision.
Small Houses and small lots: It is felt the 1,500 square foot house ignited fears of entry level housing and lower price levels. As set out above, this size of housing is to satisfy a need for Senior housing in Rowlett. The requirement is specified by the City of Rowlett and fits the needs as identified by two research firms. This housing is not for basic needs housing. The units are expensive. Everything that is nice is installed. Seniors will buy down, but will not sacrifice comfort. Clearly, this project is for the more affluent Senior. Per square foot pricing may be the highest in Rowlett.
It is felt these smaller houses and lots will have no adverse effect on existing real estate values.
Benefits to the City of Rowlett:
1. $75-$80 million contributed to tax base from new housing.
2. $600-$750K in increased home values in adjacent homes. (Tax Base)
3. Substantially enhance value of vacant land adjacent and northeast of new proposed boulevard. Amount not known, but value in millions of dollars. (Tax Base)
4. Pasture land with improved access in (3) above will attract additional commercial development. (Tax Base)
5. Commercial Development follows rooftops………not vice versa. Therefore, in general, new homeowners in proposed development will have household income of $150K and up…….nearly double Rowlett’s average income. This additional disposable income will demand additional commercial development to service their needs and wants. The needed commercial development and sales tax generated by this new source of revenue is nearly impossible to calculate with accuracy…….but it’s a whole bunch.
A word about the developer: History Maker Homes is one of the top 10 developers in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex. The metroplex has some of the best developers in the world. It is thought History Maker ranks No. 8 in annual gross sales at the present time. The company has been in existence for many years and has survived several real estate downturns. The company is a survivor.
A word about Northshore and Rowlett 2020: A tollway is not a freeway. Clearly, the tolls make a difference on the development criteria. For example, an executive making $200K a year will pay $7-$10 a day to have a convenient commute to work. He can afford it and altho a toll is paid, the time savings and avoidance of stop and go traffic is worth the cost. On the other hand, if this same executive is a member of a corporate search team looking for a new location of their office to house 50 employees, he will not select a site close to where he lives unless his employees can get there for little or no toll expense. The resistance to tollways will increase if there are service vehicles or rolling stock entering or leaving the facility each day. The exception would be a location at a major intersenction, such as Renner Road, US 75, or Custer Road. Employees can get to work without tolls. Northshore has only Merritt Road and Liberty Grove as crossroads. These two intersections fall far short of the traffic handled by, say, Lakeshore. Merritt and Liberty Grove Roads just don’t link up with much beyond local traffic.
However, all is not lost. Rowlett can utilize commercial development, as best we can, the intersections and service roads where they exist. That still leaves a large portion of land. That land can be used to house the high income executives that work in employment centers near the high speed freeways and tollways in the metroplex. Acres and acres of high rise office and manufacturing costing over $10 million per facility is probably not in the picture. Executive housing can be further encouraged with lake development and lifestyle improvements.
The proposed subdivision does exactly that.
Rowlett 2020 is a good exercise with good intentions. I still recommend the study, however I think the original concept was diverted or corrupted. It needs to get back on track and advise and offer answers to questions of the City Council. They should not do the management or administration of Council duties.. The City Council was elected to make decisions, not subcontract it out to consultants. There was never any intention to create a “no growth” policy, but it seemed to have happened. As a citizen experienced in real estate, it was extremely painful to watch Rockwall, Sachse, Wylie, Murphy, and the Fire Wheel area suck all the economic development air right out of Rowlett over the past two years. Don’t take my word for it. Go look. However, it is still my opinion that Rowlett can benefit from a re-evaluation of Northshore and other more difficult areas to maximize use while maintaining an excellent lifestyle. Causing to shut down the obvious is nuts. Valuable time is being wasted. There are other areas in Northshore that are also residential in nature because of infrastructure, development difficulties, and market acceptance.
Clearly, the status quo is being disrupted for the current homeowners in the area. They have legitimate questions that deserve answers, but to stop development and preserve adjacent land, there is only one way: Form an HOA, buy the land, and deed restrict it. The other objections, when turned into questions, can be answered satisfactorily. In fact, the proposed subdivision will raise the property values of the current residents. The four answers to the existing homeowners, plus five other benefits the subdivision brings to Rowlett, plus other intangible benefits accrued to Rowlett by the proposed development seemingly has one opposing position. The opposition from Staff and P&Z seems to be, “We don’t know what it is until Rowlett 2020 tells us.” It is not thought we have to wait for Rowlett 2020. The evidence is lopsidedly on the side of granting zoning for development of the subject property.
Sorry for the long post. I didn’t have time to make it short.