Colleyville officials continue to face a barrage of citizen-backlash after their attempt to ram through a high-density development plan was exposed. On Tuesday night, the council will decide whether or not to side with their own citizens.
The “higher-density” issue has inspired citizen-engagement in other Metroplex cities such as Plano, where a citizen-led petition drive collected over 4,000 signatures from registered voters opposing the council’s recent 6-2 vote in favor of “higher-density and urbanization.”
Colleyville officials led by Mayor David Kelly and council member Mike Taylor first tried to quell concerns by claiming their development plan didn’t call for higher-density development, and that citizens were simply misinformed.
But council member Chris Putnam exposed this deceit by simply pointing out sections of the written plan. City staff responded by rushing to scrub all high-density buzzwords from the plan and republishing the document to cover their tracks, although their clever wording manipulations have only served to further anger concerned residents.
Putnam then brought a printed version of the two plans to the council, with sticky notes marking each page the city scrubbed. Citizens were outraged. He says over the past week he’s received hundreds of emails from citizens opposing the plan.
On Sunday, December 13th, he participated in a town hall meeting to explain its negative implications on property owners, and hear from residents.
Putnam detailed many of those concerns in a recent letter to residents, and asked that citizens opposed to the plan sign an online petition and attend the December 15th council meeting:
“I am under ferocious attack by [special interests] and their surrogates for challenging this plan,” Putnam wrote. “[It] effectively promotes a complete re-making of Colleyville by increasing the number of zero lot developments, townhomes, condos and other urban residential projects across town… We have one chance to stop this plan or in another ten years our community will be unrecognizable and indistinguishable from every other crowded suburb.”
Putnam outlined one of the many tax consequences for local property owners:
“Part of this plan actually eliminates agricultural zoning designations which creates serious tax consequences for large property owners…This push towards higher density has actually been occurring for years now and incumbents who either have ties to the developer community or are in that community themselves now want to double down. I could use your support. …Not all growth is good or represents progress.”
Officials have largely met concerned residents with disdain. After a 78-year old man received a standing ovation for respectfully pleading the council to consider citizen-concerns, councilman Taylor arrogantly asked the crowd to “follow the rules” and remain silent.
Another homeowner expressed disgust over the higher-density push stating it appears to favor “developers, vested interests, and government” over local property owners. He cited that, although he moved to Texas to escape “big-government,” he’s disappointed to find that Colleyville “has a little slice of D.C.”
Putnam is viewed by many in Colleyville as the only dissenting voice amongst politicians with a history of exacerbating controversy, dismissing citizen concerns, and forwarding projects aimed at memorializing the legacy of themselves, rather than serving the best interests of residents.
Residents fear that a majority of the council will defiantly approve the controversial plan at tonight’s public meeting. Fortunately, voters in May 2016 will have another opportunity to decide which incumbents to send packing.