A major 2,800-acre development west of Interstate 35E took a huge step forward Monday night as the Waxahachie City Council unanimously approved a zoning change and development agreement, as well as the creation of a public improvement district.
Emory Lakes will be built in phases and when completed will contain nearly 9,000 total units. The area is roughly bounded to the north by Business U.S. 287 and FM 875, to the east by I-35E, to the south by FM 1446 and to the west by Lone Elm Road.
“It’s a small city within a city,” councilmember Doug Barnes said. “We’re always ready for growth, but we want good growth.”
Mayor David Hill said the development has been in the works since about 2005 and a number of former councilmembers kept the project moving ahead.
“It was a heavy lift, and I think it was an excellent package that was put together,” Hill said. “There’s still plenty of time to work out green zones and entrances … and everything else that comes along with it. This is just the zoning part and it’s the beginning.”
The public improvement district, or PID, will allow developers to put in the infrastructure up front and be reimbursed through the sale of bonds, at no cost to the city. Property owners within the PID would pay for retirement of these bonds through their property tax bills.
The zoning change to a planned development for the area covered by the PID was approved as well. City planning director Shon Brooks said a landscape buffering area between the development and properties along Brookside Lane has been added, and that the development will not connect with Brookside.
Several adjacent residents along Brookside Lane and Lone Elm Road objected to the presence of a huge development next to their properties, as well as the possibility of higher property tax bills due to the increased value of land in the area.
“You hate to see the country go away, but on the other hand, it’s going to happen,” Mayor Pro Tem Mary Lou Shipley said. “I think we’re doing the best we can for it.”
The bulk of the development will be single-family residential, with some multi-family, commercial and mixed uses as well as a minimum of 400 acres of dedicated open space and 25 miles of hiking and biking trails. Brooks said space will be available for up to five elementary schools and one middle school.
Edward Fleming, representing developer Walton Global Holdings, thanked city staff for their assistance in the process. Fleming said Emory Lakes will be a “full-service community” for all ages with a large number of parks and other amenities.
Aaron Duncan, also speaking on behalf of Walton, said most of the new houses will have either alley entry, J-swing or side-entry garages to keep the view of garage doors to a minimum from the street. Duncan said there will be a 5-acre park for every 1,000 houses to keep the parks within walking distance.
In another PID within the city, the council approved a plan to assess property and levy those assessments within Area No. 2 of the North Grove PID. Councilmembers also approved a reimbursement agreement, a construction and funding agreement and a landowner agreement in relation to the North Grove PID.
All councilmembers were present.
• The items approved in the consent agenda included previous minutes; event applications for Pyrotechnico Training on April 24, the Classic Truck Nationals on June 12, the Crape Myrtle Fireworks Display on July 3 and C10s in the Park on Sept. 18; a budget amendment for general items; funding for Wags-a-Hachie Dog Park redevelopment; and the Waxahachie 4B board finance report for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
A rezoning of a property at 865 Cantrell Street was continued to the May 3 meeting.
• A planned development at 1014 Ferris Avenue, Suite 106 was amended to allow for a storage unit for a 2-year period, after which the property owner would have to renew with the council. A zoning change from Future Development and Light Indistrial-1 to a planned development was approved at 4743 North I-35E as well.
• The abandonment of a drainage and utility easement associated with the College Street drainage improvement contract was approved. A bid for construction of the same project was awarded to Reliable Paving, Inc. in the amount of $2,450,000, plus a contingency fee.
• Following an executive session, the council took no public action.