Residents expressed growing concerns over the new Garden Valley Apartments that currently under construction during the Monday night session of the Waxahachie City Council.
Issues discussed by the homeowners ranged from emergency response to traffic congestion.
The 213-apartment complex broke ground May 10. Construction on the site will take place over the next 16 months.
Resident Jerry Pace told the council the complex would compound issues that already exist in the area. He noted complex is across the street from Felty Elementary School, further adding to the difficulties.
“On any given day when there are school activities, and non-school activities after school closes, the street both on sides is occupied by parents whose children go to Felty,” Pace said. Any day for pickup, the front of my house is blocked. With the added increase of the forthcoming apartment complex my area is going to be a cesspool for an accident waiting to happen.”
Pace asked the council to look at options to manage the additional traffic on the streets.
Resident Betty Roberts told the council the neighborhood is crowded enough already, and the apartment complex will worsen it. Roberts protested the development at the groundbreaking.
“We are very angry. This is a safety concern of gargantuan proportion for more than just our students. I find it alarming that you don’t see eye to eye on this,” Roberts said. “You are trying to put this any right next to an elementary school, a daycare, and the sports complex.”
Roberts added there had been very little communication with residents about the development from the city.
Resident Tim McFarland shared his fellow residents' concerns that the placement of the development and thought it could have been thought out a little more carefully.
“I don’t know anyone more than me that is pro-growth, but I don’t want to live in Plano. Plano lost control. Folks saw an opportunity to cash in, and this looks like one,” McFarland said. “My question to you is would we do it differently if we had another shot? I see a lot of other options.”
Concerns were also voiced about safety for children living in the area with the increased traffic and the ability for first responders to access an emergency scene.
Mayor Pro Tem David Hill stated he is unsure of what the council could do at this point, and noted it would take more conversations than just one single meeting.
“I don’t know what the council can do. It has gone through planning and zoning and public hearings, and now they are doing dirt work. We have people that come in and complain, and I understand that, but it is about eight weeks too late.”
He added development on the project has been going on for four years.
Council member Mary Lou Shipley shared Hill’s thoughts about the action the council can take.
“The time for the public to come forward was when the original planning was done, and I think that it is a little too late,” Shipley said. “We put out signs, and there were notices that were published.”
Shipley stated there are qualifications in the statute and the city complies with them very carefully.
Council member Chuck Beatty stated the council does its best to work residents when potential developments come into the city.
“I appreciate their concerns, and we try to do everything that we can to address those issues and elevate those concerns,” Beatty said. “We know that people do pay a lot of money to live in those neighborhoods and we don’t want to burden them with a lot of unnecessary apartments.”
Beatty added the concerns voiced by residents are going to be looked at to see where the city can help.
Council member Melissa Olson stated she understands the concerns of residents about the impact of the project.
“I completely understand where they are coming from,” Olson said. “I would like to see what we can do going forward to address their concerns.”