April 24, 2014
Factual information can communicate many different things, depending on the depth of facts one chooses to explore. Let’s dig a little deeper into a “fact” as stated by the Chair of Planning & Zoning.
It has been stated that 33.2% of “the neighborhood” opposed the proposed new DATCU corporate headquarters on Teasley Lane.
When an application is filed to rezone a property, the city is required by state law to send out a Notice of Public Hearing to property owners within 200 ft. of the subject property. Each property owner may reply to the notice indicating support, opposition, or neutrality.
If 20% of the LAND area within 200 feet opposes the rezoning request, then approval by a super-majority (6 votes out of 7, not just a majority) of Council is required for passage. Let us be clear; this is not 20% of individual property owners, but is owners of 20% of the LAND area within the 200-ft. notice area.
The backup information provided to Planning & Zoning contained 8 notices of opposition and 3 notices of support for the re-zoning request. Based upon the notices, 32% of the land area opposed the rezoning, as indicated by the 8 notices of opposition.
Would it be a material fact if you knew that just one property owner was responsible for more than half of the opposed land area? Well, that is the case. Without that opposition, the super-majority requirement would not have been required. Seems this critical fact has been lost in the discussion.
DATCU was planning to purchase the entire 10-acre tract, but utilize only 2 acres for its new corporate headquarters/parking. DATCU would provide a 150 to 200 ft. buffer to the adjacent property owners; this is 4 to 5 times the depth of buffer required by city code.
Protection and enhancement of neighborhood.
DATCU was not proposing to build an 83,000 sq. ft. building initially. The building was to be two stories, only about 50,000 sq. ft., with the ability to expand to 83,000 sq. ft., if needed someday; DATCU was viewing this site as its “forever” home of up to 100 years. There was no guarantee the building would ever be expanded. DATCU would utilize no more than 2 acres, or 20% of the tract, leaving the remaining 80% as a buffer area and treed greenspace.
Enhancement and neighborhood preservation.
DATCU was willing to pay for a right-turn deceleration lane from Teasley into the site (traffic mitigation infrastructure). To improve mobility for the neighborhood, DATCU also was willing to install – at its expense – a right-turn lane from Pennsylvania to Teasley and would work with the church that owns the land needed for this lane.
Protection and enhancement of the neighborhood
In a separate vote, Planning & Zoning denied DATCU’s request to install the right-turn deceleration lane – at its own expense – on Teasley Lane, even though the lane was not prohibited by city code.
DATCU would have employed about 80 people at the corporate headquarters at opening.
The project would have raised additional revenue for the city in excess of $100,000 annually and for Denton Independent School District in excess of $200,000 annually.
DATCU would have reduced current traffic to the site (now a church) and surrounding neighborhood, because no DATCU operations are conducted after 5 p.m. on weekdays or on Saturday or Sunday.
Protection and enhancement of the neighborhood
Neighborhood Residential Mixed Use (NRMU) is the zoning classification DATCU sought in its application for rezoning. Just a few months before the DATCU hearing, Planning & Zoning recommended approval to City Council of an amendment to the NRMU zoning classification. The amendment applied to all land in the city zoned NRMU, not just the Teasley site sought by DATCU. The amendment allowed a permitted use of office and professional buildings more than 25,000 sq. ft. on land within the NRMU classification with the addition of a special use permit (SUP).
DATCU did not request any tax incentives from the city.
Some want to create distractions from the facts by blaming DATCU and circulating misinformation that DATCU never intended to stay in Denton. However, DATCU spent thousands of dollars and countless hours on architectural plans, tree surveys, soil analyses of the Teasley site, etc., as required by the city.
I do not believe the tremendous growth DATCU is experiencing today is a result of irrational business decisions, such as comprehensive development of plans specific to the Teasley site with no intent to build a new corporate headquarters at that location.
We had an 80-year-old native Denton company ranked the No. 7 credit union in the nation seeking to:
• Build a new corporate headquarters on 10 acres while only using 2 acres
• Provide 80+ jobs
• Provide additional tax revenue to the city of $100,000 annually
• Provide additional revenue to the Denton Independent School District of $200,000 annually
• Build the project without requesting any tax incentives
The project would have:
• Improved traffic mobility
• Reduced traffic to the site; no operations after 5:00 p.m. on weekdays, and no operations on Saturday or Sunday
The head of P&Z, one of my opponents, said “No.”
Great leaders learn from mistakes. But, instead of trying to learn how to avoid this type of situation again, some are now kicking a long-standing Denton company in the back side as it’s walking out the door.
No wonder Denton has such a powerful anti-business reputation.