MIDLOTHAIN — City council members rejected two rezoning applications at Tuesday’s regular meeting.
The first application was for a single family housing development near Longbranch Elementary School and the other was for a modified heavy industrial zoning for the Texas Central Business
(TCB) Line Corporation Transload Center located south of U.S. Highway 67 and west of Midlothian Parkway.
TCB’s application was denied by a unanimous vote after council members indicated they were concerned with uses the permit would force future Midlothian residents to deal with. The application did not fit with the city’s plans for future growth and development, council member Ted Miller said.
“Most Midlothian city councils have tried to approve industrial zoning away from populations,” said council member Jimmie McClure. “Our city and residents have bought into the idea that 67 is a gateway to our community, and across the highway we are supporting the Farmstead and a wedding venue, so this doesn’t make sense to me.”
The center is bordered by the Holcim cement plant and quarry, the BNSF Railway, U.S. Highway 67, the Auto Park and the Union Pacific Railroad. Because of the location of the rail yard inside the center, the city will not be able to change or regulate all business that occurs in the center at any time in the foreseeable future, Lasher told the council members.
“It is industrial and will most likely always be,” he said.
The TCB Transload Center is part of the MidTexas International Center and, though the city cannot govern business specifically related to the railroad because of interstate commerce laws, the user must apply for a city permit if they are conducting business that is not unique nor essential to the rail yard function, city planning director Kevin Lasher told council members. In 2014, TCB applied for and received such a Specific Use Permit (SUP) for U.S. Polyco at Transload Center. Visibility of the Polyco building from U.S. Highway 67 was a concern during the approval process for that application.
The center is currently zoned for light industrial and TCB had applied for a special use permit to be able to have a heavy industrial zoning with certain uses prohibited. TCB officials have indicated they have had several businesses contact them wanting outdoor storage for gravel and dirt to be used in construction projects like the 360 Tollroad project, Lasher said. Bulk outdoor storage is not permitted under standard light industrial zoning, he said.
Activities that would have been prohibited in the SUP included indoor and outdoor archery or firearm shooting ranges, sexually-oriented business, motor vehicle salvage yards, petroleum refinery, sanitary landfill, smelter or refinery, steel mill, brick kiln except for tile manufacturing, fabrication and production, chemical manufacturing and processing, furnace blast including forge plant, boiler works manufacturer, metal foundry plant except metal fabrication and metal smelting, reclamation, or ore reduction.
Activities allowed in heavy industrial zonings include livestock sales/shipping facilities; sales and storage of stone, rock, gravel, sand, or dirt; stoneyard for building stone, cutting, sawing, or storage of stone; rock, cement crushers and stone quarry, cement or hydrated lime manufacture; glass, non-metal mineral product manufacturing; metal manufacturing; motor vehicle manufacturing and accessorizing; brewery, distillery or winery; tobacco manufacturing or tar distillation; rubber stamping, shearing/punching manufacturing; cement products plant, carpet and rug cleaning, assembly of pre-manufactured parts except vehicle, trailers, airplanes, or mobile homes; electroplating, fabricating or manufacturing housing, temporary or office building; manufacture of dies, cores, die-cast molding, and metal casting, metal stamping, dyeing, shearing, or punching; and industrial storage yard.
“My bigger concern is that by approving this, the community could not have a guarantee that the residents will only see rock piles there,” said council member TJ Henley, adding he wanted to restrict use to outdoor storage.
TCB representatives had expressed they were seeking a SUP for heavy industrial use rather than a light industrial SUP to allow them more flexibility to quickly meet future business opportunities without having to apply for a new permit each time, Lasher said.
There was also concern for fire safety and the fire department’s ability to safely set up their equipment inside the center, Lasher said. The city cannot force the center to construct concrete or asphalt roads inside the center, he said.
When the fire department uses the ladder truck, outriggers must be placed on solid surfaces to support the weight of ladder, said fire chief Dale McCaskill.
“I have no way of knowing if an outrigger will stay stable without concrete or asphalt,” McCaskill told the council members. “Without a hard footing, I’m not willing to raise the ladder in those circumstances. And right now, we have a policy we don’t take our million-dollar truck off a hard surface, so we don’t tear it up.”
The ladder truck was donated to the department by the Midlothian Development Authority to allow the department to work more safely and effectively in industrial areas.
The positive side of the application for the city was city staff had been able to negotiate with TCB for a wide buffer zone between the center and Midlothian Parkway. The 50-foot-wide and 6- to 8-foot high berm and landscaping would serve to block the view of the center from the road, Lasher said, making the area fit better with the attractive image the city wishes to create on the northern side. The first two sections of the berm would have been constructed immediately and the remaining sections would have been completed over the next nine years, he said. The applicant had said the berm’s cost required the project to be spread out over that time.
Fire and emergency access also played a role in the denial of the housing development. The 21 lot development is oddly shaped because of existing housing developments, Lasher said, so the development would have only one entrance onto Farm-to-Market Road 1387. The applicant was also proposing narrow home lots to reach the desired number for profitability.
“I think you can do something with this property, but I don’t think this is something I can get behind,” Henley told the developer.
Council members denied the plan but suggested the developer return with a more thorough engineering plan to fix drainage issues and make the street easier for the fire trucks to navigate.
“As it sits, we believe we can get in and get out,” McCaskill said. “You stack to many cars in there and it could be a problem, but we can’t control who has parties or friends over.”
The developer should also look at a design that widens the curb width of the lots in the corners of the development, said council member Wayne Sibley.
“I’m concerned about these 40-foot lots. That is not acceptable to me,” Sibley said.
Contact Bethany Kurtz at 469-517-1450 or email email@example.com. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BethanyKurtzMidloMirror or on Twitter @bethmidlomirror.