The Melissa City Council met Tuesday night to approve the relocation of utilities for the reconstruction of U.S. Highway 75, a request for a final plat of five acres located near David and Fannin Roads, an ordinance amending the city’s code of ordinances regarding multi-family residential districts and to conduct a public hearing to allow citizens to voice their favor or opposition to the amendments and ordinances surrounding the possible construction of the Fitzhugh Creek Villas affordable apartment development.
It was this final item which resulted in a packed house, standing-room only meeting at Melissa City Hall. Literally. Residents filled the Council chamber 30 minutes prior to the start of the meeting and even those arriving a quarter of an hour early were relegated to standing in the hallway outside the meeting chamber.
Council held a public hearing to allow the voicing of comments for or against a request to rezone approximately 8.11 acres from agricultural and general commercial district to planned development district for the development. The land itself is located on block 1, lots 2 and 4 of the Melissa Crossing final plat.
Gardner Capitol Investment, the company that currently owns the land, sent representative John Palmer to deliver a presentation outlining the company’s goals with the project. The presentation, which was lengthy and vague at times, claimed the city would receive many more advantages than disadvantages of the housing and tried to dispel many of the rumors and misconceptions surrounding the issue. Palmer claimed that, theoretically, the crime rate would not increase as the restrictions surrounding the application process would keep those with criminal records from being considered and that the tenants of the complex would police themselves. Palmer also claimed that the facility would have 24-hour staff on hand complete with state of the art surveillance.
Council opened the floor to hear citizen’s comments regarding the issue. The majority of the citizens who spoke voiced a passionate opposition to the request. Out of the roughly 20 citizens who addressed Council, only three spoke in favor of GCI’s request. The major areas of concern as stated by those against the project are the impact on Melissa’s school system, police and fire departments which some residents stated a concern about their capacity to take on the extra load. A significant portion of those who spoke were not opposed to the building of an apartment complex in Melissa but for the city to stick to its current comprehensive plan, which has a predestinated area for multi-family housing, and not to rezone a tract of land originally meant for commercial and agricultural development.
A majority of the citizens also pointed to the lack of publicity a major rezoning issue usually receives in most cities. Although a public noticed was printed in the McKinney Gazette, a large number of citizens thought the notice would have been better fit in The Anna-Melissa Tribune. A number of citizens requested to Council that if it would not deny the request then it should table the issue for a future meeting to give the city and its citizens more time to evaluate all the facts.
After conferring shortly with the city attorney, who advised Council of its options to approve, deny or table, members voted 6-1 to table the issue with council member Julie Anderson the only dissenting vote. Council will place the item on the next city council agenda for Feb. 11.
In other Council news, members approved a resolution authorizing the city manager to execute the Texas Department of Transportation Reimbursement agreement, which will cover the majority of the costs associated with the relocation of utilities regarding the reconstruction of US 75.
Council also approved an ordinance amending Melissa’s code of ordinances regarding usable open space requirement, special and additional regulations to multi-family housing and residential districts.