The Midlothian City Council voted unanimously to approve rezoning for the Autumn Run addition after hearing residents speak for and against the planned development at Tuesday's council meeting.
The majority of residents at the public hearing spoke out against Autumn Run, citing two main issues. Many expressed concern for the additional traffic along the already congested Farm-to-Market Road 663, and others opposed the smaller lot sizes adjacent to their own, whether they lived along Starwashed Road or off Reindeer Drive.
“This addition will back up to my lot and we don't need any more lots along 663,” Local resident Pam Shelly said. “It just can't handle that load. Also, I don't believe the bridge will solve the problem. There's no one that is against growth in Midlothian, but we need to do it right because it can't be undone.”
In response to several similar comments, City Manager Don Hastings noted that the city has reached out to a regional consultant to conduct a corridor study of FM 663.
Resident Dean Thomas was one of three speakers in favor of the council approving Autumn Run. He said he is impressed with the concessions the developer, Don Dykstra with Bloomfield Homes, has made to please neighboring residents and the city.
“I'm impressed with what this developer has done,” Thomas said. “The Byrds' (who sold the property to Bloomfield Homes) private property rights are being eroded by those of you protesting this development.”
Jamie Wickliffe, a former Midlothian City Council member, spoke on behalf of the Byrd family to express their side of the issue.
“The Byrds have lived at that site since 1953 and have been nice, quiet neighbors – the kind of family that is the backbone of our community,” Wickliffe said. “Now they want to sell their property to provide for the matriarch of this family. Don't make the property they have lived off for decades a burden on them.”
The council also discussed the need for a second access point at FM 663for the second and third phases of Autumn Run to provide better access to emergency responders. Dykstra said he would have to discuss the second access with the Byrd family, because it will cut across property they still own.
Planning Manager Alberto Mares clarified that the city's ordinances would require a second access point when the development adds more than 40 lots.
In the motion to rezone approximately 68 acres for Autumn Run, the council included conditions suggested by Mares to require an eight-foot fence along the northwest and west borders, maintain the existing tree line and plant additional trees as needed, and require a second access point to FM 663 before initiation of the second and third phases.
In other business, the council scheduled a workshop and indefinitely extended its public hearing to discuss amending seven roadways and reclassifying one road in its Master Thoroughfare Plan. Former mayor Boyce Whatley urged the council to take a second look at reclassifying Ledgestone Lane.
“This will be a well-used road and you don't want a future council to look back and say they wished you'd had the foresight to make the right decision,” Whatley said, noting that FM 663 is an example of transportation problems outside the city's control, as it is a state road controlled by TxDOT. “You have control over this road and can avoid these issues in the future.”
Mayor Bill Houston, Mayor Pro Tem Joe Frizzell and Jimmie McClure expressed their agreement with Whatley's advice to hire a consultant to study Ledgestone Lane.
In other action, the council:
• approved rezoning approximately 3.4 acres from agricultural to commercial, and in a separate motion approved a specific use permit for additional storage units at 3851 FM 663
• voted 5-1 to approve a specific use permit to allow used car sales east of Gifco Road at U.S. Highway 67. McClure cast the sole nay vote.
• postponed a petition for disannexation until the next council meeting on Oct. 8 at the request of the property owner
• nominated Phillip Lynch for the Ellis County Appraisal District Board of Directors
• approved an agreement between the city, 4A and 4B tax boards with Garner Economics LLC to develop a strategic plan for economic development in Midlothian