After a lengthy public hearing, the Waxahachie City Council decided to postpone consideration of the 2007 Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan until its June 18 meeting.

The move came after three local developers spoke during the hearing, requesting that the city put off the plan’s approval until after they and a group of other brokers, builders and developers could meet with city staff at a meeting to take place June 6.

The speakers expressed concerns with some of the plan’s recommendations, particularly the proposed buffer zone around the 100-year flood plain, which could be up to 500 feet in some places.

Council members Chuck Beatty and Joe Gallo asserted the plan would serve as a guideline and any changes to the city’s ordinances resulting from the plan’s recommendations would have be approved by the council at a later date.

Beatty and Gallo’s statements came after councilman Ron Wilkinson raised questions about whether or not the plan’s recommendations would be binding on the council, with queries specifically focusing on the buffer zone.

“It (the buffer) just smacks to me of being unreasonable,” Wilkinson said, noting that another item on the meeting’s agenda would have violated the recommendations put forth by the plan. After some clarification, Wilkinson added that he thinks “the citizens need to know this is not a zoning ordinance,” adding, “it’s a good document, but it’s an imperfect one.”

Gary Giles, a local developer, was the first resident to address the council during the hearing, expressing his concern that while the council was considering adopting the plan as a guideline, “(the Planning and Zoning Commission) and the city staff tend to take this guidelines as gospel.”

Kevin and James Strength also spoke in favor of postponing the plan’s adoption, expressing their concerns that with the buffer zones, land south of town near creeks and other waterways - land which they asserted typically draws higher-end homes - could not be developed.

Kevin Strength also inquired how the new plan and its buffer zones would affect the value of his property located along South Prong Creek.

Speaking for the plan, director of parks and recreation John Smith told the council that if the city intends to apply for certain grants, it would need to have the plan adopted by the end of May.

After the close of the hearing, City Manager Paul Stevens said that while postponing the adoption would delay grant applications, it was important to discuss the plan with the group, adding that he didn’t foresee the meeting necessarily involving a debate of the plan’s underlying ideas. Instead, the meeting would probably be more “pointed towards policy,” Stevens said.

In other business, the council approved funds for improvements at the Ellis County Woman’s Building, including a new men’s restroom, remodeling the women’s restroom and installing storage cabinetry beneath the stage.

“Over the years, the use of the building has changed,” Glinda Felty told the council. “And in 2007, we have once again reached the time when we need to update the building.”

According to information given to the council, the building averages 23.25 events per month, based upon the time from October 2006-May 2007.

Based upon estimates completed by John Jarvis, the cost for the improvements will be between $31,273 and $29,881, Sylvia Smith showed the council, explaining that the variance is due to different flooring options for the bathrooms.

Proponents of the improvements also presented a proposal for an asphalt parking lot, which would cost about $55,000.

As both the city and Ellis County have interests in the building, Wilkinson amended Beatty’s motion to approve the use of unused bond funds for the projects by adding that the city manager will approach the county about aiding in improving the structure, and if the county declines, Stevens should then work to have the county deed over its interest in the building to Waxahachie.

The council also approved the appointment of residents to various city boards and commissions.

In development news, the council approved the zoning change request of Diane Johnson Collard for a proposed gated community named Belle Meadows, a 39.852 acre section of land located on Cantrell Street (Farm-to-Market 1446). The location would include 22 acres of open space/flood management areas, and the remaining 17 acres would be split into 72 lots with residences of at least 2,000 square feet.

Those homes would fall under single family-2 and -3 zoning regulations, Collard said, adding some would be zero-lot line homes.

Two of the street’s residents spoke out against the development, citing the change to the neighborhood’s character and the negative effects on traffic that adding 150 cars per day to the street would have.

The council also:

Approved a specific use permit for a private club within an Olive Garden restaurant, to be located on U.S. Highway 77 north of the U.S. Highway 287 Bypass Approved a specific use permit with a 90-day term for a temporary concrete batch plant located north and west of Mustang Creek Phase I, and northwest of the intersection of U.S. Highway 287 and Farm-to-Market Road 813. Approved the preliminary plat of Aday Estates, a 46.237 acre proposed subdivision located in the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction on Farm-to-Market Road 66 across from Scarborough Faire and consisting of 37 lots of single family residences Approved the final plat of Black Champ Estates, a proposed 15.824 acre subdivision on the west side of Black Champ Road, north of U.S. Highway 287 consisting of 14 residential lots. Approved a budget amendment for supplies for the Waxahachie Fire Department Received a report from Smith about the new playground equipment the council approved purchasing earlier in the year. The equipment has been installed at Getzendaner Memorial Park.

The council will next meet at a community forum for the Waxahachie chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at 7 p.m. May 22 at Graham Street Church of Christ, located at 304 Graham St. in Waxahachie.