City Council Meeting – 1/2/2008

The first City Council meeting of 2008 certainly started the year out with a bang!  After a few months of relatively tame agendas, this Tuesday’s meeting was in front of a packed house.  We finally finished up before 11pm after a few controversial issues.  Please read this week’s entry to find out things happening in Frisco.

 The most controversial discussion was the request from the Datta Yoga Center for a specific use permit (“SUP”) to build their Church Noth of Eldorado on the East side of Independence.  This request was complicated by the protest from the property owner to the North.  If the City Council receives protests from more than 20% of the surrounding landowners, we require a super majority vote of approval rather than a simple majority. Since the parcel to the North was owned by a single landowner, this requirement was met. As a result of the protest, 5 out of 6 votes were required to approve the SUP. 

We received a letter of protest from the northern property owner siting traffic as the concern of their protest.  However, our staff was not concerned with traffic as it would be typical of anything build on that land.  In addition, the Church will be building 2 additional turning lanes on Independence as well as sharing parking capabilities with another neighboring Church.  The protesting property owner spoke at the Council meeting that he was not against the Church being built.  However, he had additional concerns that the Church would not be harmonious with surrounding developments, which would impact his property value.  He stated that he would only remove his protest if there was an 8 foot masonry wall built along his property line and the Church architecture was “toned down.”  Council explained that we could not guarantee his tastes could be accomodated since it is a matter of opinion.  After discussion, he agreed to waive that requirement but he did want the wall built.  The Church members, with over 100 in attendance, preferred to build a living screen of trees rather than a masonry wall.  However, they indicated they would do whatever Council decided as they just wanted a place to worship.  The living screen alone was more than the City requires.

Basically, our dilemma was voting on the SUP as written with a living screen or amending it to require the 8 foot masonry wall.  If we voted on it as is, we would require 5 votes to allow the Church to be built.  If we required the wall, the protest would have been lifted and we would have only required a simple majority to allow the Church. 

Council was unified on our decision to allow the Church to be built as we have been consistant on our desire for all of our citizens to have ample opportunities to worship.  However, we certainly were divided on the wall requirement.  My position was the wall was not necessary.  We do not normally require them in this circumstance and I felt the Church went above and beyond to be willing to plant a living screen. I did not feel it was the Church’s responsibility to build the wall for the property owner to the North.  The property owner to the North, if concerned of a decreasing property value, could have exercise his right to build the wall themself.  However, by requiring the Church to do it, we were restricting their rights as property owners and we were closing them off to the public.  I much preferred the open design with trees planted in lieu of a wall.

After discussion, it was clear that more than 2 Council members preferred further compromise by requiring the wall.  Therefore, it would have been risky to make a motion to accept the SUP as is as it may have been denied and the applicant would have been denied their opportunity to build their Church.  Council Member Jim Joyner made a motion to accept the SUP subject to the wall being built.  The vote carried 4-2, with myself and David Prince voting against the requirement of the wall.  Although, the applicant did not want to build the wall, they were happy they have the opportunity to build their place of worship in Frisco and the owner to the North was satisified with the outcome.

The next major issue was whether we would allow for a Major Nursery to be built on Preston Road.  Callaway’s Nursery was making the application.  Currently, we have development standards for what is called the Preston Overlay District.  Since Preston is a major artery in Frisco, these special design standards are so we can dictate the look and commercial layout of Preston Road as it is developed.  Major Nurseries were prohibited on Preston when this was written.  The reason was Council, at that time, did not want the eyesoar of open plants sitting along Preston Road. This happened at a time where the City had difficulty with a nursery on Preston that later shutdown. The current applicant was proposing that they be allowed to operate on Preston Road as long as all of their plants were behind a masonry screen. 

Although staff and Planning & Zoning had recommended the change, some Council members were opposed to changing the requirements of the overlay district as they felt it would open a pandora’s box.  However, staff had made the recommendation that they only be allowed within infill properties.  These are odd-shaped properties caused by development around them.  I felt this was a good use for some of these plats along Preston as long as the nursery was using our development standards and placed their product behind a masonry screen.  Council voted 3-3 on this issue and the Mayor voted in favor of the change to break the tie (the Mayor only votes in the event of a tie).

A few other items of note:

  • Council voted to approve a change to the downtown zoning requirements called our “OTC Standards.”  Currently, a restaurant cannot serve alcohol if it is located within 300 ft of a Church or school.  You may remember the issue we had last year with a Church going in on Main Street.  They waived this requirement as the vision for downtown Frisco is to have some lively restaurants that may want to serve alchohol.  This change was to not make this an issue any longer as any restaurant in this district would be allowed by right to serve alcohol regardless of the proximity of a Church.  This was approved 6-0 by Council.
  • We approved 2 road projects of note.  The first was the approval of a bid to build the final 2 lanes of Lebanon going east from 423.  This will help the residents living in the 423 area.  We also approved the extension of Frisco Street to Main Street.  This will help with development and traffic in Frisco Square and also help with the connection of the new downtown to the old downtown.
  • Finally, after being tabled for several weeks, we finally approved our red light camera committee.  Congratulations to those selected.
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