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P&Z rejects 113-acre development

Members of the Pilot Point Planning & Zoning Commission reviewed the development plan with Jay Childs of Dietz Engineering at City Hall Monday night

The Pilot Point Planning and Zoning Commission shot down a zoning request for a proposed housing development at its meeting Monday, but the Pilot Point City Council will now have its chance to look at the development in a hearing at its meeting Monday. The council meets at 6:30 p.m.

During a lengthy discussion Monday, three P&Z commissioners expressed reservations with the housing development, which sits on 113 acres located 1,200 feet north of Washington Street and the U.S. 377 intersection, on the west of side of 377.

The development would span three counties – Denton, Grayson and Cooke – and would feature 575 homes at total buildout, over a 10-year period. The first phase would have 120 homes and take a couple of years, said City Manager Alan Guard. A stoplight could be placed at the entry to the development if the Texas Department of Transportation sees that it is warranted.

“In 10 years, they’re probably going to widen 377 to six lanes from 380 all the way to the county line, so by that time – that’s not going to be the only light that’s going to go in – there are going to be a few lights,” he said. “They’re going to go in there and slow the speed down to 45.”

Traffic was but one issue that surfaced. Commissioners Dallas Slay, Paul Dennis and Rebecca Millikin were the most vocal critics of the development. Among their concerns: density, street size, lack of open space, emergency responders’ mobility and entry and exit spaces. The P&Z voted 5-1 against the zoning change, with Steven Keith opposed to the motion made against the development’s zoning. Some commissioners also had reservations about the amount of time commissioners had to scrutinize the development – just a few days.

Paul McCracken, representing engineering and planning consulting firm Kimley Horn in Frisco, spoke to the commission about the development on behalf of developer Griffin, Brantley & Thomas LLC in Frisco. McCracken said his company would not be open to making revisions and modifications on the property and that, because of deadlines, it needed to hear from the commission Monday on where it stands on the development’s zoning. The developer does not own the property, but the landowner would love to sell it, McCracken said.

A price has already been negotiated and the developer has placed earnest money, Guard said.

“The sale would go through if the developer’s planned development is approved,” Guard said Tuesday. “Otherwise, if it is like most deals, in the event the planned development is not approved, the developer would walk away and the owner would keep the earnest money.”

The P&Z had a public hearing on the matter in which commissioners examined a zoning change request from commercial/single residential to planned development, single family residential.

Barbie Mays, a real estate agent, advised the commission to remember that Pilot Point is not Frisco or McKinney and should not aspire to be like those cities in how they handled their housing booms.

Chance Kirby, a member of the Pilot Point Economic Development Corporation board who spoke during the hearing as a citizen, sympathized with the tough decision commissioners had to make and wondered what kind of impact the development would have on the community years from now.

“Is this direction you want the community to go?” he said.

Millikin wondered about exit streets in the northwest portion - the development ends in a cul-de-sac neighborhood – the “sea of rooftops” that would be created, and how fires would be handled. Slay grilled McCracken on how residents would maneuver around fire trucks during an emergency.

“These are the same width streets that you’ll find [in Frisco],” McCracken said, adding he has lived there for 25 years and that that city has 31-foot streets.

Millikin also had a concern about the big picture and how the development would fit in here.

“We want to grow in a way that we do have community,” Millikin said.

Dennis echoed that standpoint in several comments, saying, for example that he wanted to see more open space. He repeatedly said Pilot Point needed to offer more soccer fields.

“This is not what we want,” Dennis said at one point, summing up his thoughts about the development.

The lot sizes for the Pilot Point development would be a minimum size of 5,500 square feet, McCracken said.

The average lot size would be 5,622 square feet and an overall density of 5.1 lots per acre, said Kelly Carpenter, director of development services for the city. The development would be done in multiple phases.

The developer approached the city around two months ago or so, Carpenter said in an interview with The Post-Signal.

“They’ve been through our development and due process twice with our development review committee, and they’re moving quickly,” she said.

A planned development allows developers to write their rules for their own projects, on such elements as lot and building size, setbacks, landscaping and street widths, and then the P&Z and council will give their feedback and negotiations occur, Carpenter said.

“You end up with your own little mini code,” she said. “And everything that you don’t talk about still applies. You’re only supposed to tell us what things are going to be different from what’s in the code and then everything else would still apply as it’s written in the code.”

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