The Dolce Vita neighborhood received final zoning approval May 28, meaning the Barnett Shale wells and compressor stations will be removed and the land remediated, much to the relief of many residents.
The 81-acre project will feature about 284 homes wedged between Woodland Estates, Villages at Park Hill and the Mansfield ISD Center for the Performing Arts.
Despite the compromise, many neighbors rallied against the project, saying they would tolerate the natural gas infrastructure if it means Meriwether Street wouldn’t be extended to the new neighborhood. Residents in Woodland Estates don’t want the increased traffic cutting through their neighborhood, especially near Nancy Neal Elementary School.
The City Council heard passionate pleas from both sides before voting 5-1 to approve the planned development zoning change for Dolce Vita.
Mayor David Cook added a stipulation that the Meriwether Street connection be gated for emergency vehicles only until 70 percent of the lots in Dolce Vita are sold or the council takes action to open it. That would delay the opening of the bridge for several years. Pedestrians would be allowed to cross the bridge from the start.
“This is an opportunity to get rid of all the compressor stations in the city of Mansfield,” said Councilman Brent Newsom.
Councilman Larry Broseh cast the lone no vote, saying he opposed the density of the project.
Blake Axen, Villages at Park Hill homeowners association president, said he and seven other homes are the closest to the natural gas operations. The blowdowns, harmful emissions and breathing issues have affected their quality of life.
“We are the front line and we are the most affected,” he said.
While he’d love for the area behind his home to remain “green pastures forever,” he said “most of us have accepted that that will not be the case.”
Tamera Bounds, president of the Woodland Estates homeowners association, said she’s been fighting these “industrial uses” for years.
“These uses do not belong in the middle of a neighborhood where people live, where children play,” she said.
Woodland Estates resident Lance Irwin opposed the natural gas operations but he also opposed extending Meriwether Street.
“If a kid is ever hit on Meriwether in the future, I can’t live with the decision to support this final plan,” Irwin said.
Bill Glacken said he believes this zoning directly contradicts Mansfield’s own 2012 land use plan. He’s concerned about the traffic impact on all the nearby roads, not just Meriwether Street.
The developer, Charles Dibrell, director of D/FW for Terra Associates, said it has taken a year to reach this compromise with the natural gas drillers and midstream companies and it will cost several million dollars to remediate the natural gas sites so homes can be built there.
Dibrell also warned the council that if they rejected the Dolce Vita plan, he would proceed with the zoning that’s already in place and build a neighborhood that would include the bare minimum of amenities and features. That means the Meriwether extension would still be done but the natural gas infrastructure would remain because of the cost to remove it.
The council didn’t like the concept of having homes built around natural gas wells and a compressor station.
Mansfield resident Stephen Lindsey, a former councilman and executive at GHA Barnett, said he will start decommissioning the compressor station now that the zoning has been approved.