Keller Citizen

Keller neighbors sue over plans for controversial tennis club

Neighbors have sued over the proposed Birch Racquet & Tennis Club in Keller.
Neighbors have sued over the proposed Birch Racquet & Tennis Club in Keller.

Neighbors opposing the construction of a controversial tennis club in Keller have filed a lawsuit against a city official and the club’s owners.

The Johnson Road Coalition — a group of residents who live near the proposed Birch Racquet & Lawn Club on Johnson Road in north Keller — are asking a judge to halt the project, saying it would increase noise and traffic in the area and drop home values by at least 20 percent, according to the lawsuit filed in Tarrant County civil court Tuesday.

The lawsuit named as defendants Taylor and Jennifer Dent, the former tennis pros planning the club, and the city of Keller’s planning manager, David Hawkins.

The Dents could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. Keller officials had not yet reviewed the lawsuit and declined to comment, a spokeswoman said.

The Keller City Council approved plans for the club in May. The lawsuit said that the Johnson Road Coalition had sought to appeal the council’s decision but that the request was denied.

The club would be located on 27 acres of what once was Newton’s Rocky Top Ranch at Keller-Smithfield and Johnson roads, which are two-lane roads.

Phase 1 of the plan includes one structure with five indoor courts and 10 outdoor courts. The clubhouse, additional amenities — including dormitories and a short golf course — and more courts are planned for future phases.

Brian Campbell, a member of the Johnson Road Coalition who lives about 300 feet from the proposed club, said the club would not fit in a residential area, especially along Johnson Road.

“We bought our property here because of the low-density, country feel,” Campbell said. “That is the feel of this area, and now they’re going to plop this facility in here, a commercial enterprise, and we’ve fought it and fought it and fought it.”

The proposal was rejected once by the city council, in April, largely because of opposition to the use of bubble domes for indoor tennis courts. The developer returned with a new plan to replace the bubble domes with permanent structures.

“We’re back,” Taylor Dent said in May. “The desire for a tennis facility in Keller is overwhelming. We listened to our neighbors and city council and replaced the temporary domes with beautiful indoor tennis buildings.”

This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.