- The rights and needs of our residents should come before the desires of development interests. Those values are put at risk with new high-density, incompatible or less than exemplary development. Rapid development approved without studying long-term impacts negatively affects our infrastructure (roads, police and fire) and unique character.
- As a Software Engineer I have had the pleasure of working collaboratively with other engineers for all my 29 years since graduating college. So when a problem arises, we work together to solve it as a group. Each member of the team contributes, playing to their strengths. I use this strategy for all aspects of my life, and that will carry over in my time as Mayor. I will look forward to collaborating with residents, town staff, and Council, boards and commissions, and other community groups.
- All of us lead very busy lives. Keeping informed about important Town decisions is very difficult. The Newsletter that we get in our water bill, tells us about activities like parades and concerts, and touts accomplishments. That is not enough. Without a concerted effort, neighborhoods are not given the opportunity in time to work together before public meetings and hearings. I would like to explore some ideas that might better alert the residents affected. I believe these suggestions will require minimal additional effort, and result in more efficient meetings as well as more equitable resolutions.
Agenda posting. I would suggest that all meeting agendas and supporting documents of the Town Council or Town Boards could be posted 10 days before the meeting. Currently, an agenda is posted on the Friday before a Town Council on the next Monday. That length of time is too short. As a result, the Council, Commissions and Boards miss valuable citizen input, and the residents are denied the equal opportunity to speak about the proposal being considered.
Master Plan changes. The Town currently posts a sign on the property in question and notifies by mail all residents within 200’ of the change. To be fair, that distance should be extended to 1,000 feet and the nearest neighborhood contact listed with the Town (and include the nearest HOA or non-HOA). If the agenda item is continued on another day, that same list of people should be notified about each scheduling change.
ECC Tree Removal Requests and Site Plans Reviews: To be fair, that distance should be extended to 1,000 feet (and include the nearest HOA or non-HOA contact). If the agenda item is continued on another day, that same list of people should be notified about each scheduling change.
The terms “quality development” and “responsible development” are often-used catch phrases that seem to mean different things to everyone. When I use those terms, I mean:
- High quality development that contributes to our community with aesthetically-pleasing designs, high-end materials, and adheres to our town’s standards for landscaping and tree preservation.
- Responsible development does not unduly stress our infrastructure. Roads, water, and sewer/septic should be completed prior to occupancy and should not cause adverse effects for our residents. SMARTGrowth should be used to ensure that fire service, police coverage, school capacities, roads and utilities can accommodate the change. Continuing to exempt or rewrite SMARTGrowth disadvantages our community.
- I believe that the natural beauty of our community was one of the reasons you chose Flower Mound over neighboring towns in the Lewisville Independent School District (LISD). We have rolling scenic vistas, creeks, sensitive ecological areas, large hills and slopes, plus large old-growth trees and forests that keep this area 2 degrees cooler in the summer. The natural slopes associated with the creeks that run through our town must be preserved in their natural state to preserve the ecology as well as control flooding. The unique and beautiful topography of our town should be protected. While Flower Mound was a farming community for many years, large groves and forests of trees had remained standing for hundreds of years, until very recently. Flower Mound has ancient post oaks, pecans, and other long-lived trees that have been living since before our country was founded! It is a travesty that these trees are so carelessly “replaced” with tiny sticks that will not provide shade or character in my lifetime. Developers complain that building on or near a slope and around large trees is difficult and expensive. They would prefer to clear, flatten, and grade all developable areas. I do not believe this is negotiable. Our slopes must remain. Our few remaining ancient trees must remain as a part of the unique beauty in Flower Mound.
- We live in the Cross Timbers region. At one time, the trees were so dense in this region that the settlers could not cross the forests on their way west. They referred to it as the “cast iron forest”, which is the title of a book by Richard V. Francaviglia, a speaker at one of the early open space symposiums in Flower Mound. We are fortunate to have post oaks in our town that are older than the United States. Unfortunately, they have been carelessly removed in alarming numbers over the last 20 years. When one of these giants is cut down to make room for a development, we cannot simply replant a post oak in its place. Nurseries do not sell Post Oak saplings. They are simply irreplaceable. They grow 1 inch every 7 years, and while they are one the sturdiest trees, they are sensitive to surface disruption and man made impacts. We have been very poor stewards of our precious native Post Oaks, cedar elms, and other specimen trees. It makes me sad to see the loss of our heritage, when much of that loss was not necessary to accommodate growth. Anyone who knows me knows that I have been fighting to save every aged tree possible in this town. I would like to work with the caring people in our town to preserve the remains of our Cross Timbers namesake, which is of monetary and intrinsic value.
- I believe that changes to the Flower Mound Master Plan should be very infrequent in cases where the change would allow more intense, incompatible uses. For example: changing office to retail; changing single family homes to office or apartments; changing large lots to small lots.
- A friend did everything right when she looked at a home in Flower Mound to purchase. She and her husband knew that Flower Mound had a Master Plan that detailed the best uses for properties within the Town. They checked the Master Plan to see what was planned for the large forested field across the street from their dream house. They discovered that a housing development with lots about the same size as their potential home was master planned for the area. They knew then that this would ensure that their big investment in this new home would be protected, so they bought the house. Now fast forward a few years and a developer came along and proposed much smaller residential lots than the Master Plan specified. The Town Council approved the Master Plan change though most neighbors asked them to stick to the Master Plan, and now the neighborhood is faced with an incompatible development project.
- Bad things happen when council members start thinking that they are smarter than the Master Planners, to whom we have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for their planning expertise over the decades, and which was supported by prior councils and still supported by the majority in our community. When these council members start amending the Master Plan to benefit a particular development interest, it jeopardizes the whole balance of the plan. There is a ripple effect that affects the integrity of the Master Plan. The playing field is no longer level for all participants.
- Unfortunately, Master Plan changes are made by the Town Council frequently with a super majority vote. I believe that developers need to conform their plans to match the Master Plan not the other way around. And they will do so if they value our community and if the Town Council expects it. Our Master Plan was written to be fair to everyone, including the community. Courts have maintained the rights of communities to have, as well as enforce Master Plans.
Value the intent of the original, Flower Mound SMARTGrowth concept. SMARTGrowth is a term used differently by different communities, depending on their location and other condition unique to them.
- I would honor SMARTGrowth’s intent and stop the practice of giving waivers to developments that cannot meet the expectation of SMARTGrowth. SMARTGrowth is the guiding principle that ensures we do not stress our infrastructure when considering changes to our town. To quote the document, it was designed to “Mitigate the ill effects of rapid and intense urbanization.” This document is a recognition that Flower Mound is in a geographic stranglehold. The Town is blocked on much of its southern border by Grapeviine Lake. This wonderful amenity reduces our options to get into and out of the Town. We are also not located near any major thoroughfare.
- I would work to find a way to reinstate the school component of SMARTGrowth. Though the Town cannot control what the school district does, the same taxpayers support both the Town and the school district. Surely, for the benefit of all concerned, we can work together to avoid an over-capacity problem.
The school component of SMARTGrowth was removed by the Town Council in late 2012, followed in 2013 by Town wide changes to our Master Plan. Their reason for removing this important planning piece was prompted by several developments failing SMARTGrowth. The failure occurred because the calculations determine that the developments would cause the feeder schools to go over their capacity. That flawed reasoning for failing to follow SMARTGrowth is a little like removing a car’s speedometer, because one is getting too many speeding tickets.
- Every time we bring in a large chain and give them incentives to move to Flower Mound, we kill another competing small business while propping up big business. I would like to see more programs to help and encourage our small businesses not kill them.
- Big business can bring more jobs to our town, but incentives were created to bring in high-paying jobs. As a fiscal conservative, I have to consider the effect of these incentives on our residents. Giving away our current and future tax dollars for a promise of local, high-paying jobs must be weighed against the amenities or even life-saving upgrades that we could provide to all residents with that same money.
- I would like to see our tax dollars used for amenities that can be enjoyed by all of the residents. Parks give us more open space for visual enjoyment as well as exercise, exploration and play. The Town has been taking money from developers in lieu of park dedications. Using that park dedication money to buy property from an owner who wishes to sell for larger parks creates destinations. However, the Town should also consider the needs of families in residential developments for close, public gathering places. Real efforts should be made to include in development plans a set of smaller parks that their Homeowner Association maintains.
- A gloriously large, new Town Hall has been the subject of recent discussions. I have seen plans. I see no reason for the Town to go into debt to build a monument to government. I would rather spend the hard earned money where it really makes a difference. For example, our response times for first responders has been inching up. Correcting that will save lives and reduce homeowners’ insurance rates. We need to get our priorities right.
- As a resident of Flower Mound for nearly all of my life, I am very pro- local business. I have always welcomed and happily visited the new, unique, family-owned restaurants that came to town in the early days. My riding students and I ate at Memories (both locations) EVERY Saturday for lunch after riding lessons until the day they closed. We still talk about those special memories and mourn the loss of that place. When Bari’s was just a little store-front café on 1171, their calzones were my go-to take out meal (and still are!). I still remember the wedding shower that we had at Salernos and the first time my friends tried their sautéed broccoli. It was our place for the dress up dates and special occasions and casual pizza nights. Friday nights, were and still are often spent at Christina’s; even back when it was called Angelina’s. Their flan was always the reward when my son brought home straight A’s. When we were on a tight budget, my kids and I would often dine at China Palace (now Asahi) for their wonderful buffet. My kids could eat their weight in sushi. My family and I still frequent businesses in town first before going anywhere else. While my husband and I don’t eat out that often, our kids can tell you that if we aren’t home on the weekend, we are probably at one of the two home improvement stores in town.
- The unique establishments can and do distinguish us from other large, growing towns that surround us. Every time we bring in a large chain and give them incentives to come, we kill another competing small business while propping up big business. I would like to see more programs to help and encourage our small businesses, not kill competition.
- Eminent Domain should be used very infrequently and never to take or threaten to take private property for the use or benefit of a private third party. I would oversee a Charter change to ensure this does not happen again. (In reviewing our charter and talking to many residents lately, I believe residents could benefit from several changes to our charter to strengthen protections for residents.)
- Eminent domain is meant to take property for public use only. Texas state law forbids the taking of a landowner’s property for private use. However, on February 2, 2015 our Town moved forward to do just that to me. The Town wanted to connect two private parking lots.
This is the way eminent domain works: The Council can vote to take the land and to get it back I must sue the Town. The Town can use my taxpayer dollars to defend the illegal taking and I must pay my lawyer big bucks to handle the court case. I would be sure to win, but the Town could then continue to use taxpayer dollars to appeal. All of this is sure to bankrupt me or any average person.
The Town must have rules that forbid 1) the taking of private property for private third-party use, and 2) forbid threatening to take property for private third-party use in order to get the property owner to give the Town what it wants.
- You must be thinking: what happened in my case?
With the Press and their cameras viewing the Town Council meeting on February 2, 2015, the Council voted to move this item to a future meeting and give me time to negotiate with the Town. Thus, with the continuing threat of taking my property, I negotiated with the Mayor and Town Manager. I agreed to allow the Town to have an easement across my property, giving me continued title to the property. Their intent was still to close my direct access to FM 2499 and route me and other property owners on Bob White through private parking lots. As part of the negotiation, they agreed that Bob White would continue to FM 2499 and to update the Master Plan to enforce that part of the agreement. The mayor offered $100,000 for the easement and I accepted his offer. I still had one major concern and that was the two specimen trees in the way of the connector the Town wanted built between 2 private parking lots. There was lip service paid to “trying to save the trees, if possible.” That wasn’t really strong enough, but I could get nothing more. The contract was signed, the Council voted to accept the negotiated agreement on April 20, 2015 and no longer considered taking my property through eminent domain. The Master Plan update was a future item.
After the May, 2015 election, three new councilmen who were angered by the Town’s improper use of eminent domain, voted to return to the negotiation table to save my 2 large, beautiful specimen trees that were in the way of the connector. After further negotiation, a plan was drawn up that routed the connector around the specimen trees. I would lose some smaller trees, but these two aged giants would survive. At this point, the contract has been signed by the Mayor, and a Master Plan change has been made to keep the direct access to FM 2499 for the Bob White residents. I do not want any other resident to have to pay huge attorney fees and experience emotional distress that the improper threat or fact of eminent domain can cause. I will work to make that a thing of the past.
- My step-son is a recently disabled veteran from his time serving in Iraq. I joined a local Texas Veterans group last year when Paul Perez (a Flower Mound veteran) started the group because I wanted to stay in the loop with veteran issues. I was surprised at the number of local veterans and their challenges. I’m happy to report that my young man has the love and support of our huge family and is a true success story. I realize that many veterans do not have that support.
- In talking to Paul Perez and others, they had tried many times to suggest a “Veterans Board” similar to the ECC, Arts Commission, Parks board, etc. in Flower Mound. This is an important local issue that needs our attention.
- I think that a Veterans Board is a good idea because it involves residents that have a passion to serve the veterans. If you have ideas, please let me know. I would love to see our veterans served as they served us.