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Zoning Controversy

Zoning Controversy
Public Service Information
Many Homeowners Oppose the "Montgomery Farm  Urban Tree Farm Zoning Proposal" and are Concerned about Establishing a Commercial and Entertainment District, Loss of Open Space, and Loss of Community Center Focus, and Property Values.
New Hearing Date:  March 17, 2015       7:00 PM  at Allen City Hall.
Email Your Comments to the City of Allen Planning and Zoning Commission c/o Shelly George, City of Allen Secretary at: sgeorge@cityofallen.org.
Also Email and Call the City Council (See Below).
The proposal would rezone a 10 acre tract south and east of the southeast corner of Bethany and Alma, and If approved, would be a drastic change from the Montgomery Farm Master Plan and Vision. The proposal has created a high degree of controversy with Montgomery Farm homeowners and in nearby communities.  
From 2007 to 2009, the Montgomery Farm Master Plan depicted a screened Community Center with a small parking lot behind, Community Gardens, a new pond, with a back drop of several tree groves East of Alma and South of Bethany. However, the plan has evolved from a community center and garden focus to a proposed full blown business, commercial, and entertainment  zone with very undesirable features for a residential area.
Links to the 2007, 2009, and the 2014, issues of the Montgomery Farm Master Community Development Plan, and the 2015 zoning change proposal, are below. 
The proposed Montgomery Farm Urban Tree Farm re-zoning includes "Use Permits" and accommodations for office buildings, various types of retail stores, discount stores, barns, restaurants, bars, alcohol sales, heavy equipment sales, an egg farm, a hatchery, building materials sales, supermarkets, residences, selling wood and coal, landscape nursery sales, a helicopter landing pad, amusements, as well as holding events such as cattle auctions and rodeos. 
While it is not anticipated that all of the proposed uses would be implemented or actually developed, but many area residents are concerned that the developer is requesting such a broad scope of permitted uses that almost anything could result.  The proposal is for a flexible concept plan that likely can be molded or flexed to fit almost any business operation regardless of the impact on the community.  
A 250 space brightly illuminated parking lot with lighting illumination exemptions (see below) along Alma is planned on land that people thought was part of a Nature Preserve and its easement. In addition, the 10 acre tract would be lost as a natural habitat and buffer zone to the the Connemara Conservatory Nature Preserve.  
If this 10 acre gets developed, will there be another 10 acres, and another...?
Today's view from a home in Hamilton Hills across Alma,  
and the site of the Planned Parking Lot.  
View from Home of the Proposed Parking Lot
Follow the links from 2007 to 2017 to see how the Master Development Plan evolved from a Community Center and Garden and natural focus to the planned Business, Commercial, and Entertainment Zone. 
2007 Master Plan            Community Center screened by landscaping, and trees from Alma
2009 Master Plan            Community Center with new parking lot between Community Center and Alma
                                          Note: In 2009 land transferred from Connemara Gardens to a new Tree Farm) 
2014 Master Plan Pg 1    Community Center changed to Urban Tree Farm HQ Building. 
                                          Community Gardens renamed Montgomery Urban Tree Farm (See Pg 2).
2015 Proposed Parking   The 250 car parking area on Alma replaces the Community Gardens and spoils                                                  the view from Alma and Hamilton Hills homes (the photo above).  
2015 Proposal Pgs 9 tru13  Illustrates scop of parking areas and development.  
Opponents are advocating that the Planning and Zoning Commission should not recommend approval of the plan.  
The City of Allen's Planning Department has recommended approving the plan. Mr. Williams, CEO and President of Emerson Partners, the developer,  has now twice postponed the hearing where he will present his proposal to the Planning and Zoning Commission.  The next step is for the Planning and Zoning Commission to hold a Public Hearing on March 17th.  From there the proposal can go to The City Council, who will ultimately make the decision and approve the plan with or without the Planning and Zoning Commission's recommendation. So, both bodies need to hear comments from area residents.  
Some of the homeowner and citizen concerns expressed include: 
  • loss of view and open space
  • traffic increase
  • light pollution
  • loss of wetland and animal habitat
  • loss of property values 
  • not what we were sold
  • will lower property values
Many have concerns:
Bright commercial light pollution,  excess traffic, noise, loss of open space and habitat, helicopters approaching over area rooftops, heavy equipment, a chicken farm, amusements, bars, restaurants, fairgrounds, coal, coke, and wood yards, rodeos, livestock auctions, department or discount stores, nurseries, and office buildings, and all the associated trash dumpsters do not belong so close to single family residential communities, especially when those homes were sold with a much different vision.  
The proposed Use Permits have alarmed homeowners and appear to broadly permit far too many activities that should not be considered in the midst of a residential area.  
Developer is asking for exemptions from Dark Sky Allen Lighting Code.
Regarding light pollution, the Proposal includes an exception from certain Dark Sky Lighting requirements. In addition to lighting allowed pursuant to ALDC Section 7.03.4 “Outdoor Lighting,” LED lighting, the plan includes: 
  • Unshielded Class I Lighting Permitted
  • Unshielded Class II Lighting Permitted
An old song says:         "The stars at night are big and bright
                                     Deep in the heart of Texas
                                     The prairie sky is wide and high
                                     Deep in the heart of Texas..." 
Montgomery Farm's Vision suggested an environment fitting of the song's lyrics. Let's keep it that way.
Outdoor displays will not have to comply with Screening Requirements.
Outdoor display for the sale of plants and trees shall not be required to comply with ALDC Section 7.07.4.e.v. provided such outdoor displays occur only with one or more locations on the Property identified on a Site Plan approved in accordance with the ALDC.
Many thought the 10 acre tract was conservation land because it was titled to The Gardens of Connemara, and then transferred to the Tree Farm in 2009.
Some are asking questions about the 1% Private Transfer Fees that some neighborhoods have to pay when a house is sold. Were these fees supposed to fund Conservation land?  
Many were sold on Montgomery Farm because they thought they could live close to nature, have access to open space, and a land preserve. They read the Montgomery Farm literature, the vision, and the Master Community Development Plan, and believed it. Now the developer is proposing what sounds like a brightly illuminated commercialized business, industrial, and entertainment district and calling it an "Urban Tree Farm" on the very land that many thought of as Conservation land that their Private Transfer Fees supported.   
The Montgomery Farm Vision Statement:
"Since the time of Thoreau, the image of the farm has been one of a poetic, almost magical place where generations co-exist with nature. It is a diverse, natural world with a sense of peace, a sense of place, and a connection to time."

Montgomery Farm is such a place. For decades it has been a haven for those who owned it – a place to be one with nature. Now, it is time to share this refuge with others and do so in a manner that will be environmentally responsible while preserving the inherent natural beauty of the land.
Homeowners are curious to know why a proposal that seems to be so contrary to the noble and principled Montgomery Farm Vision Statement can be so contradictory.  
We have not heard a single individual, other than those that will financially benefit, speak in favor of the zoning change and related development. Please send comments to admin@montgomeryfarmpark.com.
Related Links: 
Montgomery Farm Developer's Website
Preserve Montgomery Farm Open Space Face Book Page
Montgomery Farm Allen Developer's (the Applicant for Zoning Change) Facebook Page
Please email the Planning and Zoning Commission, and City Council as indicated below, and let them know how you feel. Also, please attend the meeting on March 17, 2015 at 7 PM, at the Allen City Hall, 305 Century Parkway, Allen, TX 75013, and fill out a blue card and speak your opinion.   
**** Email Planning and Zoning Commission  and City Council ****
To: Shelly George. Secretary City of Allen 
Subject: Montgomery Farm Urban Tree Farm Zoning   
Email: sgeorge@cityofallen.org
Request forwarding your email to Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council 
Bo Bass Director of Planning: bbass@cityofallen.org
To Email and Call City Council Individual Members of the Council
City Council Member                        Email                                    Phone
Stephen Terrell    (Mayor)            sterrell@cityofallen.org              214-509-4120    
Kurt Kizer                                    kkizer@cityofallen.org               214-509-4121    
Ross Obermeyer                          robermeyer@cityofallen.org       214-509-4122  
Jey Herald                                   jherald@cityofallen.org              214-509-4123     
Robin Sedlacek                            rsedlacek@cityofallen.org           214-509-4124     
Gary Caplinger                            gcaplinger@cityofallen.org          214-509-4125     
Blaine Brooks                              bbrooks@cityofallen.org             214-509-4126       
The information reported on this page is based public information,  on comments by impacted residents and other interested parties in the proposed Montgomery Farm Urban Tree Farm zoning change. If you find any incorrect statements or errors, please send your comments to admin@montgomeryfarmpark.com .