Salado Planning & Zoning Commissioners will recommend against three proposed zoning changes, two affecting private parks and the third affecting the Mill Creek Golf Course.
The recommendations, following Jan. 22 public hearings on the matters, will be presented to aldermen at their 6:30 p.m. Feb 7 meeting. The board of aldermen will conduct public hearings and vote on the recommendations. Village administrator Don Ferguson will bring the recommendation of the P&Z Commission, along with his own, to the Feb. 7 meeting.
If history is any indication, the recommendation of the P&Z will carry little water with the aldermen, who voted unanimously in December to create the Private Recreation zoning district designations over their recommendation against doing so by P&Z.
Almost a dozen people spoke on the proposal to change the zoning of the Mill Creek Golf Course within the village limits from Single Family Residential to the newly-created Private Recreation zoning district.
Jody Lander spoke against the rezoning proposal, saying “hindsight is 20/20, future vision is somewhat fuzzy. If the golf course cannot be maintained, they could then put in other uses allowed by the Private Recreation, including antennas, fitness clubs and sports groups.” The rezoning could “cause the value of the property to go down for the current owners. It could be detrimental to the value for the owners. Usually zoning is done to make values go up.”
Ron Gravette shared a Wall Street Journal article about the closing of golf courses around the country.
He said that the rezoning hamstrings the owners and investors in the golf course from trying to make the property profitable and keep it open.
Jim Ervi said that the golf course has had tremendous tax breaks over the years and should be rezoned as private recreation.
Paul Cox said that the purpose of restricting land use was to be for the betterment of the entire community. He was in favor of rezoning the property to keep it as a golf course. Doing otherwise, he said, “would be disastrous for the values of properties that surround the course.”
One resident said she was concerned about the Private Recreation designation because of the other land uses allowed in it that are not allowed in Single Family Residential, including animal boarding and boat repair.
Reynolds spoke against the rezoning because “rezoning against the will of the property owner” could be a form of taking the land.
Linda Blevins said that she opposed the rezoning because if the course closed and could not be developed for other uses, “it’s not going to be a view you want to look at out of your back windows.”
Amber Dankert said that the Board of Aldermen, in creating the new zoning “acted against the P&Z” and “not in the interests of businesses.”
Bryan Fritch said that the property should be rezoned as Private Recreation. “If it has to be redeveloped, the owners can come back and ask for it to be rezoned residential then.”
Billy Helm, a principal owner of the golf course, said that if the course cannot make it and has to close because it cannot be rezoned, “it will be tumbleweeds and rats.”
P&Z voted 4-1 against the rezoning on a motion by Ronnie Tynes and second by Susan Terry. K.D. Hill and Tom McMahan voted against the rezoning, while Larry Roberson was in favor of the rezoning.
The P&Z considered two proposed zoning changes to rezone property that is currently owned or managed by the Village as park property from Historic District to the newly-created Public Facilities zoning designation. One is Pace Park and the other is the property now known as Sirena Park (called the Village Green for decades before).
Four people spoke during the public hearing on Pace Park, all against the change in zoning: Lander, Linda Reynolds, Darlene Walsh and Judy Fields.
Three spoke against the rezoning of Sirena Park: Reynolds, Walsh and John Cole.
Parks are an allowed Land Use within the Historic District.
Each expressed concern that the change in zoning would begin to whittle away at the Historic District protections.
On both votes concerning the park designation, Commissioners KD Hill, Tom McMahon, Susan Terry and Ronnie Tynes voted against the rezoning, while P&Z Chair Larry Roberson voted in favor.
Subdivision Concept Plan
P&Z Commissioners also approved the Concept Plan of a 54-lot residential subdivision at the northeast corner of Royal St. and Smith Branch Rd., including a waiver of the half-acre lot requirement of the Subdivision Ordinance. The development asked for a variance to the ordinance to allow for lot sizes of at least a quarter-acre. The property will request annexation into the Village of Salado and will request extension of the sewer line to serve the property.
Commissioner Hill asked about the public park space requirement of the Subdivision Ordinance. Ferguson said that the developer will pay a fee in lieu of dedicating park space.
“So we could end up with money and no parks?” Commissioner Tynes asked.
Ferguson said that the payments in lieu of dedication would be kept in a separate fund to allow the Village to improve current park space or purchase land for future park space to serve the additional residents. Since the adoption of the Subdivision Ordinance, no additional park space has been purchase by the Village.
P&Z Commissioners were unanimous in approving the Concept Plan and variance on a motion by Tynes and a second by McMahan.