John Garfield grew up in a small town with parades in the summer, football in the fall and on a street where he knew everybody and everybody knew him.
As the city’s new Planning Director, Garfield wants a growing Midlothian to embrace that small-town charm and mix in a few modern amenities to make life here the best in the Metroplex.
“I grew up in western New York state and have those small-town memories that I cherish so much,” Garfield told the Midlothian Rotary Club last week. “I love parades and remember those where we all walked down the street with our flags. We were a community to be proud of and we were proud to show it.”
Garfield would leave his hometown to go to college at Utah State. He would further his education at the University of Texas-Austin with a degree in Public Administration. Garfield spent the last 20 years of his career with the Fort Worth Planning Department before being hired as Midlothian’s Planning Director in June.
“I see a lot of potential in Midlothian,” said Garfield. “The community is on the cusp of a lot of great things and the quality of development and control of development is critical.”
Garfield said he had lengthy discussion with city officials before hiring on to determine what Midlothian wants.
“I was told repeatedly that we don’t want exponential growth like we are seeing in many towns around the Metroplex,” said Garfield. “I also have seen a desire to enhance the heritage of the community.”
Garfield pointed out there is a plan for growth in Midlothian and he handed out the latest future land-use map. The map is a by-product of a comprehensive plan put together by city and community leaders in a series of public meetings spanning 18 months.
“This is the road map of how the city should grow in the next 20 years,” said Garfield. “It show the best land uses for parcels of property and how all those parcels work together to better the community.”
Garfield said, while there is development west of town, it is the land east of Midlothian that will define the community. Much of the property west of Midlothian is in the Grand Prairie city limits or extra territorial jurisdiction. Property north of Midlothian is dominated by cement plant quarries, so it is property south and east of town that Midlothian can control through ordinances and zoning.
“Property east of town has a much different development pattern (from property west of town) and it will continue to grow much like Midlothian has in the past,” said Garfield. “That will be with pods of development and what we call the new urbanism.”
Garfield said he doesn’t have a crystal ball in his office but he has made a couple of observations and was willing to make a couple of predictions.
“The west will develop in a more urban and more dense fashion,” said Garfield. “The east side of town will be more rural and open.”
Garfield said he is also intrigued with ideas for downtown and historic Midlothian.
“How we preserve Old Town and those grand homes will say a lot about Midlothian to future generations,” said Garfield. “What we do to protect the integrity and uniqueness of downtown will also say a lot about Midlothian.”
The city is urging developers to adopt the architecture of the area.
“Businesses will desert downtown if you don’t preserve the heritage and work specifically to direct the redevelopment of downtown property when a business leaves,” said Garfield. “I think we are going to see a lot more mixed use where we combine residential and commercial property. In the heart of downtown that could mean loft apartments over retail businesses or professional offices.”
Drawing people downtown is as simple as having festivals and regular activities and make people want to spend time in the area.
Garfield also talked of walking trails that wind across the community and parks that draw neighborhoods together.
“This is a great place to live and you will have development pressure,” said Garfield. “The key is sustainable growth and a plan to become a place we all want to live in 20-, 30-, or even 40-years down the road.”