Mansfield News-Mirror

Housing surge sparks debate in Mansfield one year after school bond passes

Building is booming in the South Pointe development.
Building is booming in the South Pointe development.

Just as the Mansfield school district prepares to start construction on three new schools, developers propose thousands of single-family homes plus hundreds of townhomes and duplexes in the city.

The largest will be the M3 Ranch, a master-planned community in southwest Mansfield with 1,571 single-family homes and 375 townhomes.

While the M3 Ranch has been known about for years, two other neighborhood plans were not part of the school district’s latest demographic report, which helped determine where new schools needed to be built and how attendance maps should be drawn.

The City Council looked at all three proposals May 14 but only the M3 Ranch got positive reviews.

Mansfield resident John Minyard said he’s concerned about roads, water towers, fire stations and police stations keeping up with all the growth. Particularly challenging is the recent trend by developers to build on land outside Mansfield for more neighborhoods.

“It really makes me cringe anytime I see on the agenda that we’re changing zoning for a planned development,” he said. “It affects us as homeowners and the taxes that we pay.”

He said he wants to make sure the developers pay their share.

City Manager Clayton Chandler said the developers do pay impact fees that are used to pay for infrastructure, such as widening a road in front of a new neighborhood.

It also affects the school district.

Mansfield school district voters approved a $275 million bond package in May 2017 that included the new Brenda Norwood Elementary School, Alma Martinez Intermediate School and Charlene McKinzey Middle School. All are within South Pointe, a master-planned community at the southeast tip of the city.

The schools are scheduled to open in 2020. School board trustees are scheduled to vote on the attendance zone maps for the new schools at their May 22 meeting.

The wait time for a newly constructed home is double what it used to be, and the rising costs of new materials can make quite a price difference.

The Avilla Legacy project proposes 192 rental units on 23 acres on FM 157 just north of Mouser Electronics. The plan showed a mix of duplexes and detached houses.

It was just a presentation for a concept plan — the council took no action at the May 14 meeting. But it was clear none of the council members liked it and that major changes will have to be made.

“There’s egregious concerns about rental properties,” said Councilman Terry Moore. “I’m prepared to commit my time for you. It’s going to be a real uphill battle.”

Councilman Mike Leyman, who was sworn in that night, said the project looks like “multi-family.”

In northwest Mansfield, neighbors showed up in force to oppose the Sherrill Ranch project, which proposes to build 222 single-family homes on 68 acres.

The project is wedged between Wildwood Court, an established ranch-style neighborhood where some residents have livestock, and Linda Jobe Middle School on Gertie Barrett Road.

Residents are concerned about increased traffic on roads that are already heavily congested. They also enjoy the slow-paced, rural lifestyle in that area of town.

Longhorns graze on Darryl Ward’s land on Wildwood Court. He’s concerned that the wooden fence the developer proposes would get damaged by his cattle’s horns, which span 5 feet across.

“If the neighbors torment them, there’s no telling what they will do,” Ward said. “They could knock it down. We want it to stay country and gradually bring everything in. There’s nothing to support that many people in our area.

Tamera Bounds, an HOA president in the nearby Woodland Estates, said the minimum 1,800-square-foot homes are low caliber. And there’s another neighborhood planned in that area that’s expected to come to council in the next few weeks.

The council directed the developer to make changes before May 28, including having larger lots and moving the fence away from neighbors to the north. The council voted 6-1 on first reading with Councilman Terry Moore voting no.

Councilman Brent Newsom urged the developer to work with the neighbors over the next few weeks. He also said additional homes are needed in that area.

“Homes bring the retail aspect of it, and people want more retail and grocery stores on the west side,” Newsom said.

The march south

Prairie grass extends as far as the eye can see on FM 917 in Mansfield, appearing that one has reached the southern end of the Metroplex.

But suburbia will continue marching south with the master-planned M3 Ranch project, which could break ground by the end of the year, said Ben Luedtke, executive vice president of Hanover Properties.

The council will have a final vote on the zoning change May 28.

The layout of the streets, retail, amenity center, trails and houses for the 714-acre tract, which spans both sides of FM 917, are already planned.

The proposal includes some 40-foot-wide lots with owner-occupied homes that will be alley-loaded. They will look similar to the zero-lot line homes in the Viridian project in north Arlington.

The houses will appeal to empty nesters, Moore said.

"I think there’s a need for this project in Mansfield,” he said.

Councilwoman Julie Short, who was also sworn in on May 14, asked when the common areas and amenity center would be built.

Luedtke said all the trails and parks are planned in Phase 1, but the amenity center would open in Phase 2.