City of Colleyville
100 Main St.
Colleyville, TX 76034
Re: Letter of Opposition – Zoning Case ZC22-036, Request to Rezone 2417 Wilkes Drive From AG & RE to PUD-R
Dear Madam or Sir:
I am writing to express my opposition to the request to rezone the 13.89-acre parcel located at 2417 Wilkes Drive, Colleyville, Texas 76034 and 6900 Pool Road, Colleyville, Texas 76034 from Agricultural (AG) & Residential Estate (RE) to residential for the following reasons:
1. On November 14, 2022, the city of Colleyville’s Planning and Zoning Commission denied Case ZC22-036 by a vote of 5-0. The Commission cited many of the reasons itemized below. I believe the reasons the P&Z commission denied this application are correct and compelling. However, the developer has chosen to appeal their rezoning case to Colleyville’s City council. Unfortunately, the developer’s revised proposal still seeks rezoning and development that would result in unacceptable outcomes.
2. The revised proposed rezoning and development of this land conflicts with Colleyville’s Land Development Code (LDC). The unique and defining characteristics of this land clearly fall within the purpose and intent of Ag zoning. Therefore, this property is presently zoned correctly. It should remain AG.
a. LDC Section 3.8 AG –Agricultural District explicitly states its purpose and intent for AG zoning to include: “open space for the protection and enhancement of scenic areas, vistas…” This land features the second-highest elevation in Colleyville, making the tops of its towering trees visible from great distances around the city. In addition, this forest sits exactly at the Pool Road “Gateway” into Colleyville greeting residents and visitors with a scenic area that exemplifies the “Country Charm”, green spaces & mature trees described in the city’s master plan as Colleyville’s defining characteristics and which distinguish it from neighboring communities.
b. LDC Section 3.8 AG –Agricultural District also explicitly states its purpose and intent for AG zoning to include: “where unusual or problematic soils, topographic conditions, or sensitive ecological features are present that would normally not be conducive or appropriate to more intensive forms and patterns of urbanization.
c. The North slope of this land grades down quickly from a peak of 620 to a low of 580 feet at the Big Bear Creek flood plain. This grade change occurs over a distance of fewer than 200 feet. (Slope estimate (40/200)*100= 20%) A 20% slope qualifies as a severe slope for home construction which creates the need for additional foundation work, use of fill, cutting, and adding retainer walls. The drainage, erosion & sewage challenges created by such slopes are significant and would be detrimental to trees designated for preservation, compound drainage issues, and result in run-off, contaminated by urbanization, directly into the Big Bear Creek. Today the forest absorbs, slows, and filters runoff, and its root systems and understory keeps the surface of the slope in place.
d. The soil in this area has a high clay content which does not drain or bear loads well. Clay also expands potentially damaging foundations.
e. The problematic soils and topographic conditions demand proper attention to drainage for both surface and subsurface water. The taking of trees from this slope, either from intentional clearing or from the inevitable collateral decline and loss from development activities will rob the slopes of the trees and root systems making for problematic erosion and the occurrence of mudslides much more likely.
f. These problematic topographic conditions, the nature of the soil, and the development activities are all detrimental to the trees planned for preservation. Unfortunately, Post Oaks, the dominant tree in this forest, are very sensitive ecological features to this type of urban development.
g. Section 5.1 of Colleyville’s LDCs clearly states the Urban Forestry Chapter’s purpose as “to promote, conserve, and enhance the City’s Urban Forest by: Recognizing the historical and cultural importance of the Eastern Cross Timbers and its impact on Colleyville.” 972 trees currently exist on this land. These trees make up an Eastern Cross Timbers forest.
h. The historical and cultural importance of these Cross Timbers is significant. On this land lives 549 Oaks of which 28 of the largest Post Oaks are estimated to be well over 200 years old. These trees go back over six generations and were standing on this land many years before Colleyville was incorporated, prior to Texas’s statehood, and even predating the Alamo.
i. 806 of these trees are “protected” species of trees, including pine, post oak, blackjack oak, elm, and cedar. A “protected” tree is defined as having a diameter of 6 inches or more and a height of at least 15 feet.
j. 199 trees on the property are “Heritage” trees. A heritage tree is a tree of the earlier residents of Colleyville or a tree that pre-dates the city’s establishment. All post oaks and blackjack oaks of at least 15 inches in diameter, and all protected trees of at least 25 inches in diameter are “Heritage” trees.
k. This forest serves many important environmental functions such as filtering water and preventing water runoff and erosion. It dampens noise, captures carbon, and emits oxygen.
l. This forest also provides habitat and food for a native North Texas ecosystem that includes plants, bugs, reptiles, birds, and mammals.
m. Development of this property to build homes, as the developer has proposed, will result in a loss of a majority of these trees and therefore the entire loss of this Eastern Cross Timbers forest.
3. On November 14, 2022, in his comments to the P&Z Commission, the developer’s representative, Curtis Young of Sage Consulting, stated, “Yes, we can be romantic about the trees that have been here a long time, but I think it frankly a tad bit unfair to say okay we’re going to develop 98% of the city and then the last few that kept their land in primarily in open space for all this time have to take the brunt of it and are not able to develop their land. To me, that seems a little bit unfair.”
Mr. Young made valid points, however, he implied the developer has kept the land open “for all this time...” The fact is the developer purchased this property in December 2021. He did correctly assert that Colleyville is nearly fully developed. Very little open green space and native Eastern Cross Timbers forests remain. I believe Colleyville has reached a tipping point in the trade-off between “business as usual” development and preserving native natural spaces such as this land. What is “not fair” is robbing our community of native space that honors our community’s heritage, improves our quality of life in the present, and preserves a legacy for future generations.
4. Denying the developer’s request to rezone does not prevent the enjoyment or use of the land. The Eastern Cross Timbers Forest stood on this land; as did the aforementioned LDC code references, long before the developer purchased this land. The developer had the opportunity to do due diligence on the land and the LDC before deciding to purchase this land and pursue an application to rezone. The City’s process is fair and its first obligation is to do what is best for the community and its citizens.
5. Colleyville needs to preserve this land more than it needs incremental property tax revenue from development. The city carries a AAA bond rating and recently easily raised $10 mil. in a competitive bid process for the purchase of land and facilities for a recreation center. The recent community surveys reveal citizens strongly desire more parks, nature, and green space. This land represents an opportunity for the city to preserve this cultural treasure (which cannot be replicated within the lifetime of any current living person on the earth) for our community.
For each of the reasons stated above, I oppose the rezoning of 2417 Wilkes Drive and 6900 Pool Road from AG and RE to PUD-R. The Colleyville City Council should vote no to the rezoning of this land.