Weatherford Democrat

April 29, 2014

Fort Worth Plan Commission OKs Morningstar plat


Weatherford Democrat

— By JUDY SHERIDAN

A decision by the Fort Worth Plan Commission to approve a preliminary plat for a development that would add about 2,100 homes to the Aledo ISD ran counter to the wishes of a group of school administrators, major land holders and citizens who traveled to Fort Worth Wednesday to oppose it.

“The district is disappointed they didn’t table consideration of the plat,” Aledo ISD Superintendent Derek Citty, who made the request, said. “We will continue to seek clarification of the items of concern to the Aledo ISD.

“We are hopeful that this development and its owners will work with the district to ensure that the development will meet the needs of the students of our school district.”

Citty was one of about 15 members of the Aledo community who attended a public hearing to speak against the 738-acre mixed-use Morningstar development proposed for the northeast corner of the intersection of Old Weatherford Road and Farmer Road. The development is in Parker County as well as the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the City of Fort Worth.

The development is slated to contain 2,117 single-family detached lots — ranging from 6,000 square feet to 9,000 square feet, according to a member of the plan commission — five commercial lots, one public school lot, six gas wells, 39 open space lots and one amenity center lot.

“The state is very prescriptive of what the plan commission can or cannot do,” Commission Chairman Charles Rand said before the controversial vote, which also sanctioned variances from the city’s subdivision ordinance to allow longer blocks.

“Growth is very difficult.”

The commission voted according to the recommendations of the city’s Development Review Committee, which determines if a plat conforms with the subdivision ordinance.

Attorney Jim Schell, representing Kim Gill and Tim Fleet, of Lackland Holdings, said his clients have the property under contract and “have spent a lot of time and money coming up with this particular layout.”

He said it was the third time the tract — located in two municipal utility districts — has come before the commission, which approved one preliminary plat for The Ranch at Mary’s Creek in 2006 and another for Morningstar Ranch in 2010, he said. Both plats expired before developers proceeded.

Charles Moncrief, co-trustee of the George Beggs Trust, which owns acreage west of the Morningstar property, asked that the plat be denied.

“I can speak somewhat for the other landowners and property owners in the area and it doesn’t fit with our vision of what Walsh is doing and what Dean and Boswell and the others plan,” he said.

Ed Farmer Beggs, the owner of land across the street from the development, said approval of the plat would be “an unmitigated disaster” in terms of the amount of traffic.

Dee Finley, an attorney representing the Dean Ranch properties, noted the plat application was missing the developer’s agreement between the current owner — whose name was never divulged — and the city. He asked whether the city council was required to approve such an agreement.

A plan commission member confirmed that the 2008 developer’s agreement had been revised and would require approval by the city council. She said it had not been circulated to the public.

“It seems to us that it’s critical that the revised developer’s agreement be available, so we can see exactly what’s going to be required of that developer,” Finley said, “and whoever the owner is of the property at this time should have joined the application.”

Also objecting were David Denman, trustee candidate Debra Rogers and Citty, who asked that the plat be tabled until the district could negotiate school sites, review the developer’s agreement and secure a plan for fire and police protection.

Schell said the current owner would sign the new developer’s agreement at the closing, then assign his interest in it to his clients.

“My clients can’t sign the agreement when they don’t own the land,” he said.

“The issues I heard are really zoning issues,” he continued. “This is all in the ETJ; you don’t have any zoning. This whole thing before you today is to look at this preliminary plat and see if it meets all the rules and regulations of the City of Fort Worth.

“You’ve got ranchers up here that have big beautiful ranches. The bottom line is they don’t want any change.”

Rogers, who helped organize the opposition, said she found the plan commission patronizing.

“That guy said the state requires us to do a certain thing,” she said. “When you’re put in a position of power you need to own up to the vote and not try to hide it.”

The next step would be to go before the Fort Worth City Council, she said.