Engage D2: Notes On The April 4 City Council Agenda & Other Updates

Your Denton City Council will meet on Tuesday, April 4 for a Work Session (open to public, beginning at 1:00PM, in the Council Work Session Room at City Hall) followed by a Regular Council Meeting (open to the public, beginning at 6:30PM, in the City Council Chambers at City Hall).   The agenda for both of these meetings has been published at this link:  CITY COUNCIL AGENDA APRIL 4, 2017

Agenda Items of Note:

Tree Preservation – I am excited that we are entering new discussions related to tree preservation within Denton.  The idea on the table is using our tree fund (which now sits at roughly $2.5M) to start preserving existing forests and tree canopy considered essential parts of our local ecosystem and habitat.  This is an idea I have been pushing to evaluate and I look forward to evaluating the details with fellow council and staff.   You can see the presentation and backup materials we will discuss with staff here:  Use of Tree Fund for Tree Preservation Work Session Presentation

Rayzor Ranch Town Center – There is an existing 380 grant in place for RED Development at the Rayzor Ranch Town Center.  The Town Center is the part of the Rayzor development located to the south of University Drive between I-35 and Bonnie Brae.  To qualify for this 380 grant, RED Development needs to have 300,000 square feet of retail either under construction or with a certificate of occupancy by January 1, 2018. Right now, RED Development has over 227,000 square feet with an additional 81,000 square feet of retail deals done and in the development process with the City (design approval, permitting, and platting is underway).  Our P&Z approved these deals in January of 2017. RED Development should be able to have construction begun by January 1, 2018 but is requesting an extension, well in advance, just to make sure they are covered should there be any disruption in the construction schedule.  To be clear, the dollars and square footage metrics tied to the existing 380 grant are not being changed.  We are being asked to consider extending the deadline.

RED Development has used a similar grant to bring the Rayzor Marketplace (north of University Drive) into existence.  That development alone is bringing our City an additional $1,000,000+ in annual sales tax revenue as well as additional property tax revenue benefiting the City, County, and School District.  In total, the Rayzor Marketplace has generated over $11,000,000 in sales and property tax revenue for our City to date.

I am confident that RED Development, with their track record of success, can meet the January 1, 2018 deadline in their current 380 grant agreement with the City for the Rayzor Town Center. If we are closer to the current deadline and it looks as though extenuating circumstances could jeopardize RED Development’s ability to meet their deadline criteria I would be willing to consider negotiating a deadline extension.  As it stands now, RED Development has over 270 days to get construction underway on the deals that are in their pipeline. I feel that it is important that we hold to the negotiated terms of our agreements, whether those terms are performance levels or time.  We do have to be flexible as good partners in these deals, but terms of deals are negotiated and agreed upon for a reason. Backup materials for this agenda item can be accessed here: http://denton-tx.legistar.com/gateway.aspx?m=l&id=/matter.aspx?key=5950

On a separate, but related note, I will be calling for a report and council discussion regarding our development incentive strategy, policy, and criteria.

Single Room Occupancy Development Near Scripture/UNT Neighborhood – P&Z voted to deny the rezoning required to accommodate this development (5-2 vote)  The development now comes before council and will require a super majority of council (at least 6 council members) to overrule P&Z denial for this zoning change request.  I agree with our P&Z on this.  While we need dense infill housing, that housing needs to integrate properly with the surrounding neighborhood.  The scale of this proposed development would fail to properly integrate with the surrounding neighborhood.  Backup materials for this agenda item are here: http://denton-tx.legistar.com/gateway.aspx?m=l&id=/matter.aspx?key=6045
It is critical that all council members know where citizens stand on this issue prior to Tuesday’s meeting or by showing up at Tuesday’s meeting to voice opposition or support for the items.  Contact City Council: https://www.cityofdenton.com/government/city-officials/city-council

Other Updates:

City of Denton Annual Citizen Update – The 2016-17 City of Denton Annual Citizen Update is now available online.  Learn more about City projects and initiatives from the last year – and, most importantly, about ways you get involved to make a difference in our community.

University Drive (US380) Construction Schedule Update – Staff has been working with TxDOT and the project manager for US380 project to get an updated construction timeline for the project. The contractor has indicated that, barring unforeseen circumstances, substantial completion of the project will be June 2017. At that time, traffic would be in the final configuration, and the contractor would be completing punch list items and landscaping.

Oak Street Bike Path – Staff has been working on bike accommodations for Oak Street to complete that bicycle route per the adopted Bike Plan. The section from Carroll Blvd to Avenue C/Jagoe Street was discussed at several Mobility Committee meetings, with a final design approved by staff given at the March 14 meeting. The design for the bicycle accommodation involves adding a four to six foot wide bicycle lane on the north side of the road, and narrowing of the travel lanes to 10 and 10 1⁄2 feet. The design does not change the current roadway width nor does it alter the current on-street parking. The completion of this project will connect the existing bike lanes on Oak Street at Avenue C and Carroll Boulevard and create a safer bicycle route. A letter will be sent next week to residents on Oak Street from Carroll Blvd to Avenue C/Jagoe to inform them of the proposed project.

Bell Avenue Sidewalk – The City is planning to construct a sidewalk along the west side of Bell Avenue from McKinney St. northward to an existing sidewalk near Mingo and Bell intersection. The intent of the project is to ensure pedestrian safety, preserve the street trees along the west side of Bell, minimize the necessary impact on parking for the Civic Center, and to complete the project in a timely manner for as many upcoming Springtime festivals as possible. Work will begin on the northern part of the project as soon as next Monday, weather permitting, and proceed to the southern end of the project.

Citizen Reports on Gas Well Issues – Several citizens made comment during the March 21 council meeting in reference to a March 10 Denton-Record Chronicle article on natural gas leaking from a water well. The article linked the issues with the water well to an Endeaver gas well located at 2496 Hickory Creek Road. In November 2016, the Gas Well Inspections Division received a call from North Texas Groundwater Conservation District (NT GWCD) advising that the fresh water well located at 113 Old Alton Road was emitting gas evidenced from bubbling. Gas Well Inspection notified the City’s Environmental Services Department, who contacted TCEQ; the Rail Road Commission (RRC), Denton County; and the Fire Department. Staff has confirmed with the RRC inspector that:

  • The property owner showed the inspector a sample of what had been pulled out of the well.
  • The sample was not analyzed and the inspector described it as a black liquid that had a foul odor and was likely bacteria
  • RRC hired an independent company to take samples of the gas coming off the water well
    • The analysis of the gas sample was inconclusive and the source of the gas could not be determined
    • RRC in Wichita decided to take more samples and, upon returning to the well, found it had been plugged
    • The RRC inspector indicated that NT GWCD also inspected the well and recommended that the property owner treat the well with bleach
    • In January 2017, in accordance with the Gas Well Ordinance, the Endeavor gas well operator notified the City that they would be conducting general maintenance and remedial work on the Meredith 1 gas well from January 20th to January 27th, 2017. This work-over was required by the RRC based on an inspection which noted an abnormal pressure on the surface pipe and that the casing was compromised. The City does not inspect the repair, but is notified when the work has been completed. The RRC has confirmed that they did inspect the repair to confirm that the issues with the casing were resolved. Staff will continue to follow up with the RRC regarding this issue.

That is all for now.  Please contact me if you have any questions, comments, ideas, concerns, or need for clarification.  I am here to serve you.
Keely G. Briggs
Denton City Council Member – District 2
(940) 453-8377