Mansfield News

Referendum against Shops at Broad apartments invalid, city attorney says

A sign at the northeast corner of U.S. 287 and East Broad Street announces the Shops at Broad project.
A sign at the northeast corner of U.S. 287 and East Broad Street announces the Shops at Broad project. File photo

The referendum to stop the apartments and Dr Pepper StarCenter in the Shops at Broad was ruled invalid by the city attorney Monday night.

Residents turned in a referendum petition Oct. 28 with 615 signatures aiming to overturn the zoning change for the 80-plus-acre mixed-use Shops at Broad project, proposed at the northeast corner of East Broad Street and U.S. 287.

Residents opposed the 330 apartments within the project and the way Mansfield funded the Dr Pepper StarCenter.

The council approved the zoning for the Shops at Broad in August. Residents have been gathering signatures for the referendum for several weeks.

The divisive issue prompted residents to pack the City Council chambers with a handful speaking in favor of the referendum. Another 32 people signed cards, also in support. Even more, 49 people mostly in favor of the dual ice rink, signed cards in opposition to the referendum.

The petition had the correct number of signatures but came in conflict with the Texas Constitution, which prohibits elections to overturn zoning changes that were approved by the City Council. The law is meant to maintain property rights.

“We cannot hold a referendum election on an individual zoning change. It is not legally permissible for you to call a referendum on this matter,” City Attorney Allen Taylor told the council. “Practically, you don’t have the ability to rezone it and take way their ability to develop.”

The City Council took no action on the item.

In addition, if the developer, Geyer Morris, starts construction on the Shops at Broad within five years, their rights have vested, Taylor said.

Taylor also addressed concerns that the zoning for the Shops at Broad was inconsistent with Mansfield’s 2012 master plan. An attorney for proponents of the referendum said the multi-family housing didn’t belong on the site.

Taylor countered that the attorney had taken the case law out of context and his claims were “completely inaccurate.” The multi-family housing is meant to screen the commercial uses from the residential homes on Carlin Road, making it consistent with the master plan, Taylor said.

Tamera Bounds, who wrote the referendum, said it’s an injustice that Mansfield residents’ voices were ignored.

“We had to use legislative means to tell this council—again—this plan is severely lacking,” Bounds said. “This rezoning ordinance must go back to the drawing board to develop a more reasonable and less contentious plan.”

Michael McCarthy called on the council to uphold the integrity of the government.

“This referendum is about a much larger issue, the voice of the citizens of Mansfield and Mansfield residents only to decide this matter,” McCarthy said.

Diamond Creek returns

The council voted to hear the previously-tabled Diamond Creek Estates project on Gertie Barrett Road.

The council’s action allows the 187-acre project to return as a planned development for first reading at the Nov. 28 meeting. It will require a total of three votes.

The planned development zoning gives the council more control over the details of the neighborhood. Residents who live near the site opposed the 480 homes planned on the site. The council agreed, encouraging the developer to return with a scaled back project.

Mayor David Cook said the developer has done just that. Everyone who lives near the project will be notified of the new zoning change.

“We want to get as much as information out as possible,” Cook said. “We do expect that this will be a PD. I think a person has a right to make their case.”

Reached last month, the developer said he the revamped plan would have a more rural character that fits in with the existing neighborhoods.

Historic building

The Mansfield Area Chamber of Commerce building at 114 N. Main Street could get Historic Landmark status. The council voted unanimously on first reading to approve the historic overlay.

The city designation recognizes the historic significance of the building, which was built by J.H. Wright in 1901. He ran a general store in the shop called The Big Daylight Store. The building could be eligible for national recognition.

Councilwoman Wendy Burgess urged chamber leadership to be at the second reading Nov. 28 to address council concerns.

In other action, a plan for a Wendy’s restaurant next to Vernon Newsom Stadium failed with a 5-2 vote. Councilmen Larry Broseh and Cory Hoffman voted for the restaurant.