Flower Mound Leader > News
P&Z recommends removing school criteria from SMARTGrowth
One of the criteria developers must meet when bringing a residential development to Flower Mound may soon be removed.
Monday, the Flower Mound Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-2 to recommend deleting the “public schools” component of the town’s SMARTGrowth program.
SMARTGrowth is a set of guidelines developers must adhere to when bringing a project to town to ensure certain infrastructure needs are met to handle future growth.
The schools component states that no residential project can be approved without a written certification from the school district that the impacted schools have not exceeded, or are expected to exceed, 110 percent of their respective programmed student capacity.
As part of the motion, commissioners recommended adding a formal structure in which the town communicates with area school districts on future projects that could affect student enrollment so the districts can better prepare.
Commissioners Mike McCall, Claudio Forest, Mike Walker and Andre Zwilling voted in favor of the motion, while commissioners Eddie White and Crystal Levonius voted against it.
Town officials said there have not been any residential projects denied because it didn't meet the criteria for schools.
But Chas Fitzgerald, a developer with Wilbow Corporation in Dallas, said he has a project he is trying to submit to the town and that it is a prime example of why the policy needs to be changed.
He said his proposed project would bring in 38 residential lots. But he said once the project was run through SMARTGrowth, it was determined that McKamy Middle School, the middle school that would be impacted by the development, is already at 110 percent over capacity.
“We would generate seven children, but because of this provision, we can’t move forward with this project,” Fitzgerald said. “So it strikes me as strange that the town is making business decisions that Lewisville ISD is not making for itself.”
Those who favored removing the schools criteria said it creates a hardship on developers, often over just a few students.
“To hold a development hostage until a school district decides to move its boundaries around is unfair,” Walker said. “I would like a creation of a formal process to where anytime there is an increase in population, the school district is notified, and they can plan accordingly. That way, we’ve informed the district that we have changed something.”
Others, including Councilman Bryan Webb, who serves as the liaison for the commission, said the schools component can overstep its boundaries.
“The town can’t dictate to school districts what they can and can’t do,” Webb said. “But that’s kind of what we’re doing by holding developers to a higher standard than what the state holds school districts to.”
Others were concerned about removing the schools component because of future growth.
“There’s no reason to stop [a development] today if in three years their analysis shows the school will be down to 105 percent,” White said. “But I can’t risk a deletion. There could be a 200-, 300- or 400-unit project down the line that could take McKamy up to 125 percent.”
White added that historically there hasn’t been communication between the town and LISD on steps the district is taking to address overcrowding.
“Until we get a regular routine from LISD keeping us abreast of what they’re doing and the actions that they’re taking, I am concerned about deleting this,” White said.
Levonius agreed that developers are held to a higher standard but said they should be.
“Perhaps we hold off development until schools can take in more students,” she said.
The town council is expected to vote on the item Monday.
In other business, the commission unanimously recommended a replat for a non-residential subdivision and a site plan for a retail shopping center known as Highlands Plaza at the southeast corner of Chinn Chapel Road and Justin Road. The 11,600-square-foot building would serve multiple tenants.
The commission also recommended a site plan for the 72,076-square-foot Academy Sports & Outdoors building at the same site.
The commission also recommended a replat and a site plan for an expansion of Valley Creek Church, located at 5800 Long Prairie Road.
The project is expected to expand the church’s existing sanctuary by about 28,000 square feet. Additional parking and the construction of a right-turn lane on the southern end of the property is also part of the project.