Growth

Texas mayor ran to preserve city’s ‘country living.’ Three months later, he resigned.

Three months after taking office, mayor Kenny Robinson resigned saying he was tired of fighting a losing battle over how the small Johnson County city is managing growth.

“We are trying to keep Joshua a country living place. We butted heads pretty bad,” he said, referring to discussions with other city leaders.

Robinson, 59, said in an interview that he couldn’t handle the stress and decided to step aside.

At issue is a difference in philosophy about bringing in new homes and businesses, Robinson said.

Robinson and his family moved to Joshua almost 20 years ago, and purchased a home on a one-acre lot. But he said he grew concerned when homes sprouted up behind his.

“I didn’t want three to four homes looking into my backyard,” he said.

Robinson said he ran on a platform of keeping country living in Joshua and said that is why he won the election, but added it’s time for someone younger to step in and fight the battle.

City manager Josh Jones said that when he was hired in 2015, previous city councils put plans in place to deal with the growth they knew would come because of Joshua’s proximity to the Metroplex and the Chisholm Trail Parkway.

But a Facebook group was very vocal about its opposition to growth and annexation, Jones said.

He described a “perfect storm” with anti-government sentiments reaching the local level.

“The mayor’s election was a change in the conversation (about development). Three months isn’t a lot of time for a conversation,” he said.

During the past several years, the city of 7,000 built a park-and-ride, partnered with the YMCA and got two multi-family complexes, the first in 30 years. New homes are being built as people are attracted to the Joshua school district, he said.

The North Texas Council of Governments projects Joshua’s population to increase to 12,000 by 2045.

But there was a setback in 2015 when the city lost its major sales tax contributor, Wedge Industries, a company that manufactures fracking equipment.

However, another company, UMC Industries, that also makes fracking equipment, moved to Joshua from Fort Worth. And the city will soon have a Burger King and Starbucks, he said.

“I keep hearing, ‘Stop trying to make us like Frisco.’ I think cities on the edge of the Metroplex are experiencing this,” Jones said.

“I wouldn’t say we are a sleepy town. I think some people woke up and said, where did all of this stuff come from?” he said.

Joshua will hold a $3.9 million bond election on Nov. 5 to fund street repairs and improvements. The bond would also pay for new street repair equipment for the public works department.

Because of the growth, the tax increase will be minimal, Jones said. A home valued at $100,000 will see a $6 increase annually.

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With my guide dog Barbara, I keep tabs on growth, economic development and other issues in Northeast Tarrant cities and other communities near Fort Worth. I’ve been a reporter at the Star-Telegram for 34 years.
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