WAXAHACHIE — Growth is inevitable, but a proposed development to add 25 homes on two acres in the city’s core was rejected by the Waxahachie City Council at its Monday meeting. Residents voiced their concern that the project would have an adverse impact on their neighborhood

The proposed development, proposed before the council by builder Chris Acker, would have been located in the 500 block of Royal Street. The second architect on the project Brad Yates was not present at the meeting.

“For two years Brad and I began working on this piece of property to come up with something for this site. We came up with a few ideas to redevelop that area. We went back and fourth with staff 20 or 30 times on this property. This is the only plan that we could find that is economically viable,” Acker said. “Ultimately, Brad and I would like to build homes there. The price would be between $175,000 - $200,000 based on what utility costs are for a 1,000 square foot home. This is not going to be rent houses or tracked homes. This is a high-end development.”

Acker said the former site was used for a commercial purpose and contained greenhouses. The greenhouses have been torn down, and the site is currently a vacant field. Acker added that this location was chosen because it was so intensely used in the past.

West Parks Avenue Resident Robert Robertson said the neighborhood is not opposed to development — only the number of home proposed on such small site.

“My biggest problem with the way that this presented is that you are doing around 25 living units in two acres. It is bad enough when the nursery was here with the big trucks coming in. You could go in and match what the neighborhood looks like and do 10 units or 12 units,” Robertson. “You are going to real traffic problems from what we have now. I just think that it is very ill responsible to cram 25 homes on two acres. Most of us would not have problems with the homes if they are tastily done.”

Fellow Parks Avenue resident Ernest Barker shared Robertson's thoughts about the proposed development. Barker said the development is going to change the fabric of the neighborhood.

“We are proud of our little neighborhood. We go to First United Methodist Church. We enjoy having the school administration building across the way, and it is a beautiful old building. People move to Waxahachie because of the community. People come here because of the neighborhoods, and they love the big trees and the wide streets,” Barker said. “If we approve this plan for 25 homes it will completely change the area. It will never be the same again. You are going to double the amount of people in the same amount of space and it is going to add so much more density to our neighborhood.”

Barker said he is not against development but not this level and feels areas like this need to be protected. He added that there should not be a rush to develop.

Mayor Pro Tem Mark Singleton said this development presents an opportunity for the city to transform an area for the better.

“The reality is this piece of property, and the Tyler Refrigeration piece of property, have been sitting here and have been identified that something needs to be done with these areas. This property has sat here for years. We have these sites all over town, and they are in the middle of our city,” Singleton said. “We set forth back here in 2000 and said we have to do something about this. It takes most of these things 10, 20 or 30 years to have a change take place. This is one of those things that has taken many years to get there.”

Mayor Kevin Strength told the audience the city is working in all neighborhoods to help and does not see how this project would bring neighborhood values down. He added that projects like this would help to revitalize downtown and bring more people to downtown.

Resident Alan Fox shared Strength’s thoughts about the importance of the project.

“We need to invest in the core of Waxahachie. Why not have those open spaces that are just sitting there and use that to have other people enjoy the quality of life within the core of Waxahachie,” Fox asked. “When development moves away from the core it tends to deteriorate. I see this as an opportunity to invest in that.”

The issue was then presented to the council for a vote after Singleton made the motion to approve the development, but did not receive a second. So the item died for the lack of a second.

A second vote was held not to approve the item. Councilmember Chuck Beatty made the motion not to adopt the item, which was seconded by council member Mary Lou Shipley. The vote passed with Singleton and Strength in opposition.

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