Three new housing developments found themselves between a rock and a hard place in Mansfield. None was willing to budge on density despite pleas from residents and the City Council.
After the dust settled at the June 11 meeting, the controversial Sherrill Ranch project got just enough votes to advance, the Sunset Crossing project in far east Mansfield passed and the Riverside at Mansfield senior living community failed.
These come as the Mansfield school district prepares to break ground on three new schools this year.
Sherrill Ranch squeezes by
Several council members expressed misgivings about allowing the 206-lot Sherrill Ranch neighborhood between Gertie Barrett Road and the railroad tracks in northwest Mansfield. Neighbors have been opposing the project for weeks saying the lots are too small and the infrastructure in the area can’t handle additional demand.
But denying the zoning change doesn’t mean nothing gets built. There’s already zoning in place for residential homes that could be built without council approval.
“If this is voted down, they go forward with the base zoning,” Mayor David Cook said.
After hours of discussion, the council voted 4-3 to approve the zoning change on second reading. The third and final vote is set for June 25.
The difference is that by working with the developer on this planned development zoning, Cook said the city can get additional amenities and protections for the neighbors that they wouldn’t get otherwise.
“If this is voted down, they go forward with the base zoning,” Cook said.
The additional perks include an 8-foot fence that borders the larger lots to the north, amenities at the park, a landscaped entrance and a homeowners association.
Felix Wong, who spoke on behalf of the developer, said they they started with 222 lots, went down to 211 and now have 206. Wong, who spent decades as the director of planning for Mansfield before retiring, said he can’t go any lower on the lots.
Darryl Ward, who lives in the neighborhood to the north, said Mansfield should promote lifestyles, not high density housing.
“We have a country feel and we’d like to keep that country feel here,” Ward said. “We don’t want to see high density in our area, especially the traffic.”
Sherrill Ranch returns for a final for on June 25.
Sunset Crossing advances
An oddly shaped property south of Mary Lillard Intermediate School could become a new 55 lot neighborhood. Skorburg Company, the same developer that built Colby Crossing, wants to build Sunset Crossing on 15 acres off Grand Meadow Boulevard just west of Day Miar Road.
Landowner Johnson Collins said the site is perfect for families with the elementary, intermediate, middle and high schools within walking distance.
It’s got a long panhandle that connects to Grand Meadow Boulevard and a larger southern area that connects to Pemberley Estates to the west.
“I’ve never known what to do with that land the way it’s shaped,” he said.
The council voted 5-2 to approve the zoning change on first reading with Councilmen Mike Leyman and Terry Moore voting no. The project will come back on June 25.
Council members expressed concerns about the density but, like Sherrill Ranch, the developer said wouldn’t go any lower. They also wanted larger side yards but the developer favored having larger backyards because that drives sales.
Moore encouraged the developer to look at buying adjacent property so the panhandle can be wider.
“I think that will really change this project,” he said.
But Cook countered by asking what the highest and best use for the land would be if homes aren’t built there.
“I’m perplexed with what we do with this panhandle,” Cook said. “What could go in its place?”
Riverside project denied
The council took a stand against multi-family, rejecting a zoning change for a 136-unit senior living community near Country Club Drive and Matlock Road.
Wong, who represented the developer, said the Riverside at Mansfield would have an 8,000-square-foot amenity center and would be limited to residents 62 and up, putting it a different land-use category than an apartment complex.
But the majority of the council disagreed and the motion to approve failed with a 2-5 vote. The 3-story building was shoehorned into a lot with no frontage on Country Club Drive or Matlock Road — access was going to be from Alexis Court, near Fire Station No. 2, and through the Living Word Church parking lot.
“This is something I just can’t support,” Cook said. “In the average citizens’ mind, that means apartments.”
Leyman and Councilwoman Julie Short voted yes. Some council members suggested making all or some of the units owner-occupied instead of being 100 percent rentals.
J. Marc Tolson, managing principal of Arrive Architecture Group who designed the project, said senior condominiums take too long to sell, citing a project in Southlake that took 11 years to fill.
He said the rents for these units would be about $1,500 a month, cheaper than Watercrest, another senior living project in Mansfield, and on par with other luxury apartments.
Originally, the project included standalone cottages on the perimeter. They were nixed after the Planning and Zoning Commission voted to deny the zoning change.
A handful of neighbors showed up to oppose the project.
The biggest concern for Melody Hufman was that if Riverside wasn’t successful, the owners could ask the council to remove the age restriction, making the rentals units available to anyone.
“That’s too big a risk to take as a homeowner if it doesn’t work out,” Hufman said.