Council to consider controversial townhomes zone change, potentially deny TNMP rate increase at tonight’s meeting

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The Lewisville City Council is expected to deny Texas-New Mexico Power’s application to increase the rates it charges within the city and make a decision on proposed townhomes in the heart of an Old Town neighborhood, one that could be pivotal for the future of the downtown area.

Council will consider a zone change for two properties located at 411 and 419 Milton St. in Old Town that would see the houses on these properties demolished and have 16 attached townhomes built in their stead. No specific design has been submitted yet for these townhomes.

According to the background material, city policy sends conflicting messages on this proposed zone change. While the area is planned to be rezoned to “Old Town Mixed Use 1” in the long term under the Old Town Master Plan, a zoning which would allow townhomes to be built on the property, the plan also encourages stability and preserving the existing neighborhood.

Staff has given no recommendation to City Council about this item, with background material saying instead that it has taken a neutral stance and is seeking direction from the governing body. Background material designates this as potentially a pivotal vote for the future of Old Town, as Council will directly weigh the merits of preserving the existing neighborhood and progress toward the master plan for the area. If Council approves the zoning change, it would mean radical change for the neighborhood, and if they deny it, it will set a precedent for what properties need to be preserved and possibly lead staff to amend city policy.

Two residents from the surrounding area expressed concern about having such townhomes built in the middle of a neighborhood at the planning and zoning meeting, and city staff has received two letters in opposition to passing the zoning change.

In a similar item, Council will also consider a zone change request to approve the proposed Mill Street Lofts, a five-story development with restaurants on the ground floor and condos above. The proposal also includes a second condo building to the west in between the proposed development and the existing neighborhood. The property for this proposed development is on the west side of Mill Street running the entire block between College and Stuart streets. This development would also require six variances in city code, and its design would have to meet several specific requirements to move forward after its approval.

Staff has recommended that Council should pass this proposed zone change. The background material does not note any opposition that has been expressed on this issue.

Also during public hearings, Council will hear two separate items concerning a 2.026 acre rhomboid property on the corner of Business 121 and Vista Ridge Mall Drive, on the east side of the intersection where Edmonds Lane becomes Vista Ridge. RaceTrac Petroleum wants to build a gas station on the land. This would require both a zoning change, which the planning and zoning commission has recommended that Council approve, and a special use permit, which the same commission unanimously recommended that Council not approve.

According to background material, the Lewisville 2025 plan designates that plot of land as an employment center. This means that RaceTrac’s desired zoning, light industrial, matches the 2025 plan, but its desired use as a gas station does not. The planning and zoning commission would prefer a small office building on this site.

Because the commission unanimously recommended denying the special use permit, at least four of the five council members must vote to approve it in order for it to be pushed through. Staff has recommended council approve the zoning change, but deny the special use permit request.

On the consent agenda, Council is expected to deny electrical utility company Texas-New Mexico Power’s application to raise its rates within Lewisville. This rate increase, which would see the average customer’s monthly rates increase by $12.21, had previously been suspended in June to allow the city time to research the proposal.

According to background material, Lewisville is part of a coalition of cities that negotiates rates with TNMP. The coalition is called TNMP Cities. The coalition’s attorneys reviewed TNMP’s filing and found “numerous unreasonable expenses” which increased the utility company’s costs. As such, the coalition’s attorneys recommended that all members adopt resolutions denying the rate increases. There is a pending settlement between TNMP and TNMP Cities that includes a significantly reduced proposal from the utility company.

The consent agenda also includes a $453,285 economic agreement with Teague Nall and Perkins to design the Holford’s Prairie Road Project, a variance to allow the Edmonds Lane Bible CHapel to add four classrooms and an item authorizing the city to make agreements with Community Development Block Grant recipients. The city is expecting $699,808 in CDBG funds this year, which will be used for city improvement.

At a 6:30 workshop session, Council will hear a presentation on TNMP’s system reliability and an update on the Lewisville community resources expo.

Lewisville City Council meets at 7 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of the month at City Hall, 151 W. Church St. in Lewisville, usually with a workshop session around 6:30 p.m. at which a majority of discussion takes place. These meetings are open to the public.

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