During his first year on the Denton City Council, Chris was appointed by the Mayor to the Council Committee on Property Maintenance. Chris was elected as chairperson and immediately created a citizen’s committee to resolve the highly charged proposal regarding property maintenance codes and rental properties. Chris wanted the solution to be citizen-driven not council-driven.
Collaboration between various stakeholder groups maximized the interests of each group to produce the optimal outcome. Chris believes in the benefit of citizen input. Toward that end, each meeting included time for public comment.
After two years of deliberation and more than 50 meetings of the Council committee and the citizens’ committee, a draft ordinance was forwarded to the full Council. The ordinance passed unanimously, with the understanding that the Code would be revisited to address unintended consequences and ongoing citizen feedback. It is time for such a review.
In Chris’ first year on Council, a structure fire damaged a house in Robson Ranch, and residents complained that the response time for arrival of fire equipment was too long. The mayor, fire chief, and Chris met with residents shortly after the fire to discuss the issue. During the meeting, Chris facilitated formation of a joint committee comprised of the Robson Ranch Safety Committee and members of the Denton Fire Department. The joint committee worked together to improve coordination between the residents and the fire department during emergency situations.
The city faced a significant budget deficit during the most recent recession. Chris proposed an initiative to reimburse the General Fund $950,000 from the Airport Gas Well Fund, pursuant to FAA regulations. The regulations allowed reimbursement of any subsidies from the municipal general fund that were expended for airport expenses in the last five years from time of approval. The reimbursement was declining with each passing year. The proposed initiative was approved by Council.
Citizens have long expressed a desire to better balance multi-family and single-family developments. During a Council meeting, Chris negotiated with the Rayzor Ranch South developer for a reduction in the number of apartments in the development.
The Planning and Zoning Commission had recommended that multifamily development at Rayzor Ranch South be allowed to begin when only the foundation of a small retail building of only 20,000 sq. ft. had been built. To ensure that more retail was constructed first, Chris negotiated an agreement in which the developer had to complete 150,000 square feet of retail concrete foundation prior to any multifamily development.
A developer sought a change of zoning at Oak St. and Bonnie Brae that would allow medical offices to be built at the site. The West Oak Area Historic District was not opposed to his stated plans, but was concerned that straight zoning would allow other uses incompatible with the area. During the Council meeting at which the the rezoning request was considered, the developer would not agree to restrict zoning to medical office use only, and Chris successfully led the Council to deny the zoning request.
Chris has coached the American Bar Association Student Law School Division negotiation teams for Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, now Texas A&M School of Law, for more than 10 years. During his tenure as coach, student teams have advanced to the national competition seven times and won two national championships, in 2011 and 2013.
Chris has been an invited guest lecturer and trainer in negotiation theory and techniques for mediation training classes and real estate offices for nearly 10 years.
During a public hearing to approve the Inspiration Master Plan Community adjacent to Robson Ranch, Chris discovered that the Council could not approve the ordinance because the developer had not provided required information about infrastructure development and financing. Planning and Zoning had approved the ordinance without the required information. Chris moved to postpone the vote until such time as all information necessary for approval had been obtained.
Chris negotiated with Robson Ranch Development to increase setbacks on specific oil and gas wells in the Robson Ranch community.
Chris joined in the proposal for an increase in the over-65 ad valorem tax exemption, which brought Denton more in line with exemption levels of surrounding communities. The proposal was approved by Council.
Chris assisted the Denia neighborhood and Denton Police Department in addressing traffic and parking issues during home football games at Apogee stadium. During the past several years, the neighborhood and Police Department have been able to improve the process and procedures to minimize traffic congestion and parking issues during home games.
Texas Municipal Power Agency
Denton, Bryan, Garland and Greenville, member cities of the Texas Municipal Power Agency (TMPA), collectively own a power production facility in Grimes County, together with electric transmission assets. In 2009, the Denton City Council appointed Chris to represent the City on the TMPA board; he was reappointed in 2011 and 2013.
Soon after being appointed to the TMPA board, Chris guided the agency to a $1.5 million savings on a coal contract by recommending a counter proposal to the staff-recommended contract price. The coal company accepted the counter offer.
While serving as Vice President and President of TMPA, Chris participated in hiring a new general manager and reducing costs for FY2014 by $20.3 million. These include a mediated $4.0 million reduction obtained from Burlington Northern Railroad on fuel transportation costs. Reduced costs are passed on to each member city’s utility operations to promote and maintain lower utility rates.