Forney Mega-meeting about Gateway and Parks

During its special Feb. 26, 2018 meeting, the Forney City Council met for 2 hours - 45 minutes in conjunction with Forney Economic Development Corporation, Forney Parks & Recreation Board, Planning & Zoning Commission and Forney TIF Board:

  • Mr. Medford said the joint council retreat created momentum he wants to continue with this meeting. He recommended having more regular meetings regarding Gateway.

  • Mr. Alan Bain presented a slideshow to the assembled members. He showed a map of the initial 600 acres they bought, and the bridge that spans highway 80 & RR.
       He said during initial talks, it was clear the city wasn't able to fund the project, it would have to be a private/public development, so they entered into an development agreement, and agreed to fund the roads. In return, the city agreed to reimburse them via ad valorem taxes.
       He spoke about the reimbursements they would get due to developer agreement - they get reimbursed from the increase in property value. He said if they get fully reimbursed before the TIF expires, the agreement stops, and if they don't get reimbursed before it expires, they just don't get reimbursed. Therefore, they have great incentive to get value increased. He mentioned a similar arrangement for retail sales tax. They set aside 80 acres for retail development in 2008, then the recession hit; retail remains changed today. The retail developer continued to try and develop it. They were told more rooftops would help.
       When the 500 acres S. of 80 came available, they bought it, as the road was planned to go through it. Later they added another 500 acres, to get 1650 homes in the Gateway Parks.
       Continuing with Gateway Parks project, over 439 completed lots, amenity center being built. They shared the cost of a lift station with the city.
       On the North side, multi-family, first two phases were leased as fast as built, third phase under construction. In the area between MF and 548, sold some land to senior center, gave some for new fire station. Have 9 acres for sale to another senior center, 1.5 for a school, working with FEDC and other commercial development. They have listed most of this land with commercial listing service CBRE.
       They have 50 acres of FEDC property under contract, will add 12 acres to that and convey to city to use for city park.
       Mr. Hunt spoke, saying former Mayor Grooms wanted to have the city tied together, so that's what they did. Re parks - City of Dallas has about $1 billion they want to spend on parks. When Dallas started the Klyde Warren Park, he thought that was crazy; it cost about $25 million / acre. But he was wrong, it is used constantly. He is interested in getting a new park going.
       Raymond Smith asked about the status, the original agreement has expired. Mr. Bain said it has not expired; the retail portion has expired as they didn't get the retail space built in time. Mayor Wilson said the 380 agreement has expired, tonight is about parks. They are required to donate a certain amount for parks.
       Mr. Hatley spoke about the Harris' proposed indoor sports building - it will restrict future development, he's concerned about a land-locked facility. If they add 10 baseball fields, will still be behind. He's concerned about having facilities scattered, and they are limiting the options for the parks.
       Mr. Hatley asked if this proposed park layout is a done deal; Mayor Wilson said it's up for discussion, and asked Mr. Hunt if they would consider zoning land S. of Reeder road for sports use.
       Mr. Hunt said will consider anything that makes economic sense. Articles in Dallas News said every citizen should be no more than 8 minute walk from a park, which goes against having one large facility. Mr. Hatley agreed with that, wondered if they could provide space for a larger sports facility, create a legacy destination as Mr. Hunt mentioned during the ground-breaking.
       Mr. Hunt spoke about the Katy Trail's great popularity.
       Mr. Bain said they are required to dedicate park land; the apartment units requires 6 acres each. They are not planning to donate 6 acres at a time, but offering future dedication all at once. Mr. Hatley asked to consider doing more than just what's required. Mr. Blackburn said it sounds like Hatley considered being restricted, and said the sports center is going to happen regardless of the city doing the park. He said there is plenty of land near the park the city could acquire and make this a 100 acre park. There was a lengthy back-and-forth between the two about possibilities and requirements for the parks.
       Mr. McGee said 10 more fields is not enough in two years.
       Ms. Harris spoke about her journey coming to Forney and her desire to build a combination sports and fitness facility. She coached at the Forney Sports Center, saw they had to turn down many tournaments due to lack of space. They plan 100k sq ft facility with half being fitness, rest being youth sports with 10-12 basketball courts, 16-20 volleyball. Could be ready in 18 months. Mr. Myers asked about a pool - not currently part of the plan. Mr. McGee asked about lock-ins for teams - yes those are planned, and other special event capabilities. Mayor Wilson asked if Hunts be part of financial backing - they have financiers and investors.
       Mr. Carr spoke about the Klyde Warren park - Warren can be walked to. This park isn't where the people are. Mr. Bain said the are building rooftops there, and putting in a trail. Mr. Carr expressed concern about kids being able to get to the park. Mayor Wilson asked about a Reeder Lane and/or 217. They might move Reeder, consistent w/ thoroughfare plan.
       Mr. Ketteman said people thought the sports facility would be on EDC land, this shows it's on petro-Hunt land.

  • Gateway parks / Northside Parks Concept - Mr. Curry had a presentation about plans for the park in the proposed area; to make it a community park, would need parking trails, playgrounds, family rec. facilities, space for umpires and staff. Mr. McGee said this would solve current needs, is concerned about parking. Ms. Penn said there is nothing for adult soft, discball, there's a lot more that should be there.
       Mr. Curry said this opens up what would be phase 2 of community park. Mr. Myers asked about the skate park - Mr. Curry would like to develop it all at once. Mr. Moon asked about space for a restaurant - Mr. Curry hadn't considered it, can look at it but depends on the venues primary purpose.
       Mr. McBeth asked who would use the football fields - the Forney Youth Football League, a group that they inherited from FISD in 2006, has 6 * 4 teams. These are 50 yard fields, might be used for flag games.
       Mr. Ketteman asked where a good place to put a park like this. Mr. Curry said have a master plan, if followed it would be easy to answer, but haven't so it's not. City is not in business of buying land for parks. Mr. McGee said major parks in DFW are all in industrial or commercial area, suggested Pinson farm would be good for dog park and discball, and asked if there would be additional parkland for Gateway. Mr. Curry said that depends on whether Hunts convert some retail to residential.
       Mayor Wilson returned to access - current park only has one entrance, it's key to have access up front. Number of parking spaces? about 1100. The Harris facility will take about 8 acres. There was discussion about street access. Will this be enough for two tournaments? Mr. Curry said with proper timing. But family rec. center could bring in 5k / day. Mr. Medford said this is preliminary, phase 2 would be going out for design. Ms. Browning asked about the property being sold to Hunts, does it include the Harris piece - no.
  • #1 EDC - Mr. Ketteman said park land dedication requires not less than 2 acres / 100 dwelling units, for Gateway = 55.78 acres. They are showing about 62 now. Re: the EDC land being sold - there is an Atmos line that should be relocated. Option 2 is $230k, 3 would be 348k, direct costs only, so it will be higher.
        Who would pay? EDC, as it is on EDC property. Mr. Carr asked why couldn't run it up 548 - buildings are in the way. Mr. Carr suggested Atmos has easements on Gateway & 548. Mr. Carr asked if could be run with new sewer lines - Mr. Dormier said there is a CIP project to antique row, it's not funded. Mayor Wilson spoke about the issues relocating Redbud Atmos line. Mr. Medford said need to do more research about other utilities in the area. Mayor Wilson asked what action was needed. Mr. Ketteman said whether this location is viable for the park is the main question. Mayor Wilson said if spend all the money from the sale on relocating gas line, rather defeats the purpose. Mr. Thatcher said looking to facilitate purchase agreement for the property sale, if there is more information council needs, they will get it ASAP.
       There was some discussion about future park plans based on Hunts' donating the land. Mayor Wilson asked if Mr. Bain would work with them on easements - sure. Mayor Wilson asked the Harris group if they needed anything to help move forward - no.
        The consensus was to wait for information.
  • #2, infrastructure to Gateway: Mr. Dormier spoke about the sewer lines, some of which is oversized anticipating future land inclusions. He stated the needs to service Steve Silver & Smurfit. Had one inquiry that would need 2.8gbd, which is more than have. Mr. Carr asked why we are just now talking about requirements for the sewer development. Mr. Dormier said the main question is who's going to pay for it, and it has been talked about since 2013. The solution is to look at what current requirements are. Mayor Wilson said need updated concept plan from Hunts; Mr. Dormier said things are a lot different now than were 10 years ago. Mr. Carr asked when they would know; Mr. Bain said they don't know, have a possible 80-acre client that will use as much as 10 homes. Until they do know what will go there, it's impossible for Mr. Dormier to make plans. Mr. Carr asked about the mixed-use Southlake-like plans; Mr. Bain said the recession killed the retail, mixed-use works in a few places. Mayor Wilson asked what rights-of-way would be needed; Mr. Dormier showed several options on the map, said if they could get right-of-way from Mr. Bain that would help.
  • held a recess.
  • #3 - Mr. Morgan said they had discussion w/ Mr. Bain about the Planned Development (PD) language, who may want to amend the language. The base zoning is MF-15.

    The PD allows density exception provided the overall (project) density is not greater than 15 / acre. It also limits number of dwelling units to 5,000. The MF-15 zoning minimum 2,000 sq. ft. requirement limits density to 21.78 / acre. Mr. Bain felt they thought the language didn't apply, 3 have already been approved, they're not asking for any change, just to have it clarified.
        Mayor Wilson asked if they were going to bring another concept plan; Mr. Bain said it should be amended to agree they aren't limited to 21 units/acre; they aren't trying to build anything different. Mr. Blackburn said they want to build structured parking, which would result in 32 / acre, so they would have to add 3 acres around, defeating the purpose.
       Mr. Morgan said the second phase had to include land to meet the 2,000 sq. ft. limit. Mr. Blackburn said younger population wants urban feel, rather than having a sea of parking around the units, they want landscaping along the buildings and sidewalk and having the parking on the interior and adding amenities. Mayor Wilson said the P&Z could look at these options.
       Mr. Johnson said when discussing other apartments, that not everyone wants a home; some cities have banned garden-style apartments, which is what Gateway apartments are. Cities are moving to higher urban-style compact, which is what Hunts' going to, city needs to look at that. Mayor Wilson agreed and said need to have public input.
       Mr. McGee said this is a mutual partnership, they want higher density, city wants more park space, would they be willing to donate 15-25 more acres than what's been presented.
       Mr. Bain said they want city to clarify what the original language was, if stays the way it is (15 units / acre), will be no apartments here. They thought this was clear. They built 2 projects, started 3 (which was approved). A lender looking at buying the second phase became concerned about the language. Mr. McGee reiterated if increasing density, need more park land. Ms. Penn said need to clarify the language. Mayor Wilson said now the developer is saying want higher density. Mr. Bain said they don't know if will be higher density - third phase construction is underway, in order to meet requirements, which they didn't have to meet when turned in the plans, they may have to add acreage. They would have to tear out a road or use some of the land they were going to convey for the park, now that the rules have been changed. Mayor Wilson said the rules haven't changed, might have been misinterpreted. Mr. Bain said they were approved to build it, and now being told may have to add acreage - that's difficult. Mayor Wilson expressed concern about higher density impact on the community.
       Mr. Blackburn said the city already approved 5k units, doesn't change traffic or schools. Mr. Carr said the cap on 5,000 unit is not negotiable, likes having the parking this way, thinks the P&Z could come up with a better definition. Mr. Myers asked if they should take action; Mr. Morgan said this would be a zoning amendment, requiring a public hearing.

  • #4 Mr. Morgan said already above 300 home starts for 4 months, set a record for monthly permits. Commercial starts at 10, typical. Updating projects on website, along with all PD ordinances. They are updating the development packet, including site plans & plats in one document, adding MyGOV permitting online. Mayor Wilson said this is great, have had complaints about difficult process.
  • Mayor Wilson thanks all the board members for their time
  • Ms. Penn calls for point of order, going back to item #1, moves to approve directing staff to assure Hunt properties that the city will accept the 50 EDC acres as parkland. Approved w/ 1 nay Mayor Wilson, who said he thought they were working through that issue.
  • Mr. Medford said will be working behind the scenes for another meeting.
  • Mayor Wilson thanks the Hunts for coming to the meeting.
  • Adjourned at 2016.
Monday, 2018, February 26