City Council Meeting – 4/1/2008

The Council meeting started off on a light note due to April Fool’s Day.  We had planned a joke on the Mayor to have nobody make a motion to go into executed session when he called for it.  It did not go over well as Council Member Prince did not get the memo and let him off the hook.  However, we did get Jim Gandy, Frisco Economic Development Corporation, by singing Happy Birthday to him.  If you were in attendance or plan to watch in on TV, I apologize for our sorry attempt at singing.  This time of year our attendance at these meetings starts to go up as those running for office will start coming.  We discussed a wide range of topics so I will get into it.

 A project I am very excited to announce is the relocation of the Museum of the American Railroad to Frisco.  Their location will be near City Hall, directly south of the Heritage Center and along the train line.  This collection will fit perfectly into the history of Frisco’s train line.  This area was a natural fit with our Heritage Center museum and the upcoming development of the Frisco Junction.  Their museum was established in Fairpark in 1963 and is considered one of the Top 5 train collections in the country.  They have outgrown their current 1.8 acre site.  The will be moving to a 12.3 acre site which will allow them to better display their collection and continue with their plans to build a $20 million museum.  They have 36 pieces of rolling stock that bring in international appeal and will continue along Frisco’s vision of a “destination city.”

A couple of noteworthy pieces include the world’s largest steam engine, “Big Boy”, and the world’s largest diesel locomotive.  Big Boy was recently repainted and required 50 gallons of paint and nearly 3 months to complete the work.  The Museum’s Day out with Thomas the Train is currently hosted in Grapevine each year and draws an additional 35,000 people.  They have other programming with school districts as well as authentic events and dinners in the trains.  We look forward to having these great venues in Frisco.  The museum currently hosts approximately 30,000 visitors per year, with an additional 35,000 associated with their Thomas the Train event in Grapevine.  To learn more about them please visit

Here is a link to the Dallas News article:

In addition, we discussed a steering committee for the Arts and Science Center.  This is a project that was approved by the voters in our last bond election.  The bonds were modeled to be sold next year so we are starting the planning now.  It was discussed that we need to find all of the potential users of this facility to get their input into the design and needs of the facility.  This includes the Frisco Association of the Arts, the School District, as well as local businesses that may have uses for some of the meeting rooms.  You will start hearing more about this capital project later in the year.

If you have lived in Frisco for at least 1 summer, there is a good chance you have visited the “Snowcone Lady” on Main Street.  Mary Mathis, who has become a fixture of the Frisco downtown, has lost her lease on the property her snowcone stand has existed on for a number of years.  City staff has been working with Ms. Mathis to find a suitable site for her to continue operations while a more permanent arrangement can be made in the Frisco Junction area.  City staff found her a location at 8760 John Elliott St (the former Frisco Family Services location) and we executed a lease with Ms. Mathis.  We look forward to visiting her new snowcone location.

I discussed in prior postings about a need to appoint a temporary fill-in for our Planning & Zoning Commission.  Council decided we wanted someone with experience that could quickly step in to fill the vacancy for a few months.  We will then appoint a permanent replacement during our normal appointment process. I nominated Bob Allen and Bob Bennet and Steve Hulsey were also nominated.  How our voting process works is we vote on the nominations in the order they were appointed until one gets 4 votes, then we stop.  So if the first person nominated gets 4 votes, we do not vote on anyone else.  Both Bob’s received 2 votes and then Steve Hulsey received 5 votes.  Mr. Hulsey served on Planning & Zoning from 1999 through 2005 and currently resides on our Community Development Corporation.  We appreciate Mr. Hulsey’s willingness to serve double duty for a few months.

Speaking of appointments, Council unaminously decided to reappoint Gary Downey to fill one of our 2 positions on the Board of the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD).  Lynn Shuyler is our other representative. Mr. Downey was first appointed in 2002 and reappointed in 2004 and 2006. The NTMWD does not have term limitations and prides themselves on board member longevity.

The topic we spent the most time discussing was staff’s recommendations on changes to our Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance. We have had issues with citizens not getting proper building permits before building accessory structures in their back yard.  What this has led to are structures that later have to be torn down.  Part of this problem are home builders that build on the entire allowed building envelope which allows no further space for homeowners to accessorize their yards.  The discussion centered around the best way for us to allow our residents to accesorize their yards while maintaining the health and welfare related to increased fire concerns.  This is a topic I am certainly passionate about.

The proposal called for smaller build lines in SF4 and 5 lots which would lead to larger rear yards and therefore, greater space to build accessory structures.  It also extended the distance you can add an arbor from your build line to 10 ft from the rear property line. I like the proposed arbor solution but very much opposed the changes in the rear setbacks.  It is my position that homeowners should have more choices on how they design their homes, not less.  A homeowner can currently choose to build a home with a larger rear setback with our current ordinance.  However, we were taking away the right for homeowners who did not intend to add additional accessory structures.  My personal home is actually a perfect example.  We wanted the majority of our square footage on the first floor since we have young children.  We have one room upstairs that we use as a playroom.  Because of our large downstairs our home has a large “footprint.”  However, it is a C-shaped design with a covered patio in between our mater bedroom and our kitchen breakfast nook.  This is a very common and popular layout for homes and is seen in all sizes of homes being built.  Since my covered patio is within my building envelope, I have no need to further accessorize my home’s exterior.  However, in the proposed rules, I would not have been able to build this home as my plan would have encroached in the larger rear setback.  This is a significant issue that would have effected many potential homeowners.

Council decided to table this item so we can have further discussions with staff to ensure we are making the proper decision for our residents.  It will be on the agenda for our first meeting in May if this issue is important to you as well.

Did you know that Frisco is underlain by 2 distinct soil formations on the east and the west side of the city?  The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks generally defines the boundary between the two soil types. The west side is underlain by the Eagle Ford Formation. In 2004, the City of Frisco hired an engineer to determine the cause of pavement failues on existing streets and to recommend soil stabilization methods for pavements within the Eagle Ford Formation.  As a result of this investigation, the City adopted the current Subgrade Design Requirements for pavements within the Eagle Ford Formation.

The East side is underlain by the Austin Chalk Limestone Formation. Although there are few pavement failures on pavements underlain by this formation, no study has ever been done.  In an effort to construct more durable pavements, we hired an engineer to do a similar study on the east side of town.

A couple of other items:

  • We executed a contract for a Saes Tax Compliance Analysis and Audit to ensure te City, Frisco EDC, and Frisco CDC are receiving all sales tax recaipts entitled under Texas law.  The vendor receives payments based on a % of any collections based on the findings of their audit.
  • We are still a few hundred people short of reaching an estimated 100,000 in population.  It should be any day now!
  • We changed our ordinance on gas pumps.  Over the last 2 years, some exceptions have been made to the ordinance to allow mid block gas pumps for those attached to big box retailers as well as a place like Rudy’s Bar-B-Q.  The amendment to the ordinance was to make this a permanent change.
  • We hired a consultant to perform a traffic engineering study for Pizza Hut Park.  Now that the tollway is open, we want to ensure we have the best plans available to service the community when we host big events such as soccer tournaments or concerts.  This study will provide us with a comprehensive set of rules and regulations for handling the traffic patterns for any type of event. 

 The Mayor and Council races are starting to heat up and I hope all citizens are keeping informed on the available candidates.  We started a new forum on that focuses only on City related issues.  You can read what others are saying at the following link:

The first debate will be held Thursday, April 3, from 6-9 PM at Centennial High School.  We will be hosting a meet the candidates night at Manuel’s Uptown Restaurant (located on Preston just North of 121 in the old Tres Meridas location) on April 16, from 5:30 to 7:30.  This will be a casual event where you can walk around to all of the candidates to ask them questions important to you.

I hope everyone can try and make one of the events over the next month to better learn the candidates.  Of course, please make sure you vote!


2 Responses to “City Council Meeting – 4/1/2008”

  1. 1 Obe Wan Kenobi April 3, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    Nice synopsis of the council meeting. I do find it interesting that the council hired an engineer to study the pavement problems on the east side when you stated there have been very few. Were the failures investigated after they happened to determine cause?

  2. 2 jeffcheney April 4, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Here is the information from our staff:

    While not as bad as the west side soil issues, the east side does have expansive clays. While we have not had massive failures, we do have issues with various roads.

    So, I believe the study will provide valuable information for tweaking what we require for sub-grade preparation and pavement requirements.

    With the hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in both thoroughfares and neighborhood streets, this study may literally save millions by merely extending the life cycle of our roadways by a few years.

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