Development doldrums? Uncertainty surrounds Driskell tract plan

After talks that the city could potentially be sued over the denial of a development on Opal Lane, Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell met with Planning and Zoning commissioners to set his expectations on the commission’s role in developments.

During a Nov. 28 Kyle Planning and Zoning Commission workshop, Mitchell said that, due to the nature of negotiations with developers on agreements, P&Z is the second stop in the approval for a preliminary plan and receiving a yes vote was essential from the commission.

This conversation was brought up due to a vote that did not go as planned by the mayor and city staff at the commission’s Nov. 14 meeting.

Commissioners initially voted 4-2 to disapprove of the Driskell Subdivision preliminary plan.

The item in the consent section of the agenda was for 540 single family lots, as well as one multi-family and one commercial lot located south of Opal Lane and north of Roland Lane.

Commissioners Pete Oppel, Travis Robinson, Timothy Kay and Jo Fenety voted no during the first vote for approval of the preliminary plan.

Robinson said in a Dec. 4 phone interview that he voted no because the preliminary plan had zero parkland and did not follow the language in the development agreement which stated that the developer would make the best effort to develop parkland.

Instead of dedicating parkland, the developer paid a fee as an alternative to creating a park in the development, he said.

“That’s not your best effort to develop parklands,” Robinson said.

After this vote, Commissioner Leslie Denise Blok said that it was her understanding that “if we deny anything, then they (developers) are going to be open to sue the city because they have a developer’s agreement.”

Howard Koontz, Kyle community development director, agreed with Blok’s conclusion and said, “that’s not incorrect.”

Another vote was called and the preliminary plans were approved by a 5-2 vote. Chairman Dex Ellision, Blok, Kay, Fenety, and Commissioner, Seat 6, Rick Koch voted to approve the plan.

“If the city obligates themselves with the developer in a procedural manner that they can’t fulfill, that’s not my problem,” Robinson said. “My role as planning and zoning commissioner is to make sure that development happens in accordance to current code.”

He said he understands the perspective of a developer who may find more profit in developing housing than reserving land for parks.

But in the long term, Robinson said having parkland increases the value in a neighborhood and creates a stronger community feel. 

For children in single family and multi-family units, having open spaces and parks for them to play in is very beneficial, Oppel said at the Nov. 28 meeting.

“I’m all about quality of life and it’s what I’m going to be fighting for,” Oppel said.

There will be more development agreements the commission will interact with in the future, Fenety said in a Dec. 4 phone interview.

“We (the commission) want development agreements to be negotiated more carefully with thought on quality of life,” Fenety said.

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