Weatherford Democrat

February 17, 2013

Development annexation in Willow Park delayed


Weatherford Democrat

— By CHRISTIN COYNE



WILLOW PARK – After much discussion Tuesday night, the Willow Park City Council declined to take action on a request for annexation submitted by Willow Park Baptist Church that could lead to development of assisted-living facility and nursing facilities off Crown Pointe Boulevard.

Several council members requested more information regarding plans for development of the property and impact on the city while others, who seemed ready to approve the request, withdrew motions after learning of issues with the submitted information.

The council rescheduled the issue for the next city council meeting.

Council member Amy Podany said she felt council needed more information and wants the city to compile a service plan and cost analysis for the 10-acre area, located near ongoing development of a 280-unit apartment complex on the city’s west side.

“There is too much information that we don’t have,” Podany said.

Without a service plan, they don’t know what type of city infrastructure is required, Podany said.

On recent annexations, the developer has paid for its own infrastructure, Mayor Richard Neverdousky noted, though other council members pointed out the city paid for infrastructure outside the property to meet development needs.

“There’s really two conflicting issues,” City Administrator Matt Shaffstall said, adding that, historically, the city has done developers agreements on individual tracts. He said the developer in this case has submitted a draft agreement now under review.

“There is an overall lack of a plan, but to a certain extent, some of that lies on the city council,” Shaffstall said. “That’s our responsibility as a city to say that we have a thoroughfare plan that shows where future roads are going to go. Now it doesn’t necessarily mean the city is going to be the person building that road … and as developers come along it’s typically their responsibility to build that extension of the road piece by piece. That’s how a lot of other cities do it.”

“I typically try to look at it as a three-step process,” Shaffstall said. “Annexation is bringing the dirt into the city. And so the primary question on the city providing the service level is, is it inside the police and fire district? Are they going to be able to respond to it? Next question starts to get into where are they as far as utility locates go.”

Next is platting and looking at where buildings can be built, Shaffstall said, adding he’s been working to redo the city’s platting application with Jason Peninger.

During the platting process, they need to answer questions such can the city service that particular project there, Shaffstall said.

The last part of the process is the site planning, looking at what they actually plan to build on the site, Shaffstall said.

After allowing annexation of area where the apartments are being developed, council felt pressure to approve other steps in the process because the developer had spent money, Podany said.

“I don’t want to get into that again. I want to make sure we do this by the book,” Podany said.

That information is essential for the city but is not part of the annexation itself, Mayor Pro Tem Gene  Martin said, adding that he did not see any reason to delay the annexation.

They have tried to be very forward in submitting information to the city, including submitting an annexation request, a zoning request, a plat request, a site plan request and the developer’s agreement request, said Chuck Stark, an engineer representing the annexation applicant.

Their goal was to achieve annexation Tuesday and hoped to consider zoning at the March planning and zoning commission meeting, he said.

“In my opinion there is no cost to the city,” Stark said, adding that all required infrastructure will be funded by the developer.

“We cannot move on if you don’t go ahead and set the annexation,” Stark said.

Neverdousky said he sees the issue of annexation as a question of whether the city wanted the property to remain in the county where they have no control over development.

Council member Gene Martin initially moved to approve the annexation, saying he didn’t expect it to pass based on prior discussion but believed the council was setting a bad precedent for future developers.

The motion was seconded by council member Brian Thornburg. However, both men removed their motions after being told by city staff that there was an issue with the annexation boundaries and how they would affect the proposed road.

City Attorney Rider Scott told council members that the city could annex what was presented and later pick up the additional 2,000 square feet or go through the process again with an amended annexation application with the correct measurements.