Colleyville residents angrily booed defiant city officials during Tuesday night’s council meeting that lasted until after midnight. The scorn came after the mayor abruptly ended council debate and rushed a final vote on new, controversial higher-density development plan known as “Destination Colleyville,” which passed 5-2.
Hundreds of citizens attended the five-hour meeting, with over 175 submitting written opposition; only ten registered support. Opposing testimony was detailed, specific, and compelling. Citizens referred to council as “deceitful,” “bullies,” a “micro-tyranny,” and one that’s created a “crisis of confidence” with residents.
Another citizen compared their process to Nancy Pelosi’s famous admission, “you have to pass it [first] to find out what’s in it.” The audience immediately erupted in applause.
“This [development] plan is just a suggestion,” Mayor David Kelly insisted. “It wouldn’t change anything…it would not result in any immediate changes to existing zoning restrictions” or agricultural designations, he claimed. He repeatedly petitioned staff to agree with his rhetoric.
Each time, members of the audience would clamor, “…then what’s the rush to pass it,” or “…then why are we even here?”
Kelly was only technically correct; the plan itself is not an adoption of a specific zoning change, but rather a plan to express the intent regarding future zoning decisions, detailing extremely specific development specifications. His statement was, at best, a half-truth aimed as misleading attendees.
Skeptical audience members were justified. First, since the current development plan doesn’t expire until 2020, there is no practical rush to adopt a new one. Secondly, if the new 2035 plan does not indicate development intent, then passing it would serve no practical policy purpose whatsoever.
Councilmembers Chris Putnam and Carol Wollin voted against the majority. During debate, they proposed delaying a decision on the 190-page proposal and gave further validity to citizen concerns. Putnam was most effective in persuading colleagues, noting Kelly’s outright denial of the plan’s tangible policy implications.
“This is why it’s imperative that this council – not staff – agree on a density standard,” Putnam said. “This is a policy document, it will impact policy, and by arbitrarily changing the [density] numbers to make them cosmetically more appealing, we are promoting confusion and obfuscation [to citizens].” Wollin agreed with Putnam, stating that “transition areas” for new development should be specified on the plan’s map.
A city staffer summoned by Kelly’s ally, Chuck Mogged, actually agreed with Putnam. He begrudgingly stated approving the plan would “make it easier” for the city to implement the recommended development and roadway changes.
It quickly became evident that further discussion spearheaded by Putnam on proposed amendments would quickly dissipate Kelly’s ability to bring the issue to a final vote. Citizens were stunned when Kelly interrupted the process to stop council members from capitulating, and rushed to a final vote. The crowd responded with audible indignation.
Opposition from the crowd was so overwhelming palpable, that prior to voting, Wollin stated, “…I have to vote my conscience, so I’ll say ‘nay’.”
Citizens immediately rushed towards the dais pointing at Kelly, shouting, “shame on you,” “unbelievable,” with several making commitments to challenge incumbents during their May re-election effort. A few members shouted, “you don’t represent the citizens, “only two of you represent Colleyville,” before angrily storming out of the chamber.