John Boyett says he was disappointed in Colleyville leaders who almost sold an eight-acre public open space to Robert Johnson illegally. But he was more disappointed in Johnson, the developer who ripped into the land before the deal closed.Council members “should have known better than to allow this to happen,” said Boyett, whose home on Longwood Drive is close to an open field that is part of the property. “It’s unclear whether the city told him he could start moving dirt or he did it on his own.”Colleyville officials said the city was unaware that Johnson or others connected to his Rosco Construction company were cutting broad paths through the thick trees and undergrowth of the property west of Big Bear Creek.Residents near the site said the earth movers were what alerted them to the pending sale.The residents provided documentation showing the property could not be sold the day after a Feb. 19 council meeting where the sale was approved.At its March 5 meeting, the city council voted unanimously to rescind the Feb. 19 resolution to allow the sale.Councilman Michael Muhm, who was the lone no vote on the Feb. 19 resolution, said his objection to the deal came mainly from his memory of circumstances surrounding the property.“I live in this area and my understanding has always been that it’s a park area,” he said. “Past council members have referred to it as a park and the people who donated land adjacent to it in Kimzey Park called it a park. I was here when that park was dedicated. That’s why I was so vehement about it being park land”The city obtained the property in 2004 from the Texas Parks and Recreation Foundation. The property was used in a 1999 grant agreement with the Texas Parks and Wildlife department through which the city got $300,000 to develop Kimzey Park, said City Manager Jennifer Fadden. The agreement mandates the land remain open space.“Current staff was not aware that the land under previous owners had a specific connection to Kimzey Park, so we did not look for a park connection in our research,” Fadden said. “We should have.”Johnson now must undo what was done to the land.“He must restore the property to the condition it was in before he started making unauthorized modifications to it,” Fadden said. “It needs to be regraded and where there is the potential for erosion, vegetation will have to be established.”Public Works Director Bob Lowry said nobody at City Hall authorized the work.“To the best of my knowledge, no one from the city knew anything about it until one of the speakers reported it during the public hearing at [the Feb. 19] city council meeting,” he said.Boyett said he and his neighbors dodged a bullet this time, and they hope that the commercial-zoned site will be declared permanently untouchable.“If they designated it a park there would be no building on the property at all,” he said. “My main concern is this open field next to our homes should remain open space. People use that to walk their dogs and we have occasional neighborhood gatherings there.”Fadden said the council will consider how the land should be used.“The mayor has asked for an item to be on the next pre-council agenda to discuss any future designations of that land,” she said.City spokeswoman Mona Gandy said Johnson’s work to restore the land to its original state will begin within days.“We don’t anticipate the need for any repercussions in this as Mr. Johnson has given us no indication that he would not cooperate,” said Gandy.If Johnson doesn’t restore the property, “he’ll be charged for any work that needs to be done,” Muhm said.
Terry Evans, 817-390-7620 Twitter: @fwstevans