Ranch-style houses with large trees, bar ditches and acres of open land are the norm out on Newt Patterson Road in west Mansfield.
The mostly rural area has a few signs of suburbia, the largest being the Twin Creeks neighborhood with more than 200 homes.
That’s slowly changing as farmland gets sold off to developers. As more dirt gets paved over, residents fear there will be more flooding on their land and increased traffic on the narrow roads.
Dozens of residents from Twin Creeks and homes along Newt Patterson Road packed the City Council chambers to oppose a proposal for 36 homes on 15 acres.
Council members listened to the concerns for the new neighborhood, called Queensgate, but ultimately approved the zoning change, voting 6-1 on final reading Feb. 26. Councilman Terry Moore cast the lone no vote, saying he wanted to give the developer and the residents a few more weeks to work out their differences.
The council members did raise the minimum house size to 2,400 square feet to drive a higher value for the homes.
The proposal for the neighborhood has been in the works for more than a year but was delayed by federal flood reviews.
Mayor David Cook said he was satisfied with the flood study presented by Bloomfield Homes, the developer of the project.
“I’m charged with finding what the highest and best use is for this property,” Cook said. “The applicant went above and beyond to show it will not have an impact.”
If the Queensgate neighborhood does cause flooding downstream, the residents would have to hire an attorney to sue the developer, City Attorney Allen Taylor said.
Alison Goodson, who lives on Newt Patterson Road, said the trickling stream that used to be behind her property already turns into a raging river during heavy rains. She fears it will get worse when the new neighborhood is built.
“I can’t afford an attorney,” Goodson told the council. “I’ve got trees that are hanging on by the roots. You can’t replace 100-year-old oak trees on my property.”
Andrew Papp, president of the Twin Creeks homeowners association, said the majority of the concerns are coming from homes that back up to the new neighborhood.
“Please do your best to look at it from the point of view of the citizens and not just the developers and the tax base,” Papp said. “Be responsible to all the community and all the folks who are living here.”
In addition to the traffic, Brian Butcher said this untouched land is full of hawks, possums, beavers, coyotes and other wildlife.
“This is the only area like this in that entire corridor between Newt Patterson and Cardinal Road that’s open anymore,” Butcher said.
Though the zoning was approved, Bloomfield Homes will still need proper permitting before starting construction on Queensgate. The council asked Bart VanAmburgh, director of public works, about the flooding and traffic concerns.
He said there will be a change for residents who live downstream but new any development has to have a plan to handle increased water flow before the city issues permits.
Traffic congestion is a problem throughout the city, he said.
“I don’t believe that 36 lots will substantially change traffic,” VanAmburgh said. “All our roads in Mansfield are becoming more congested.”
Complicating matters was the fact that the land has been zoned for residential since at least 2000, meaning the developer could build homes there with or without a zoning change. The developer proposed a planned development because he wanted to shrink the lots slightly to make way for a gas line easement that goes through the property.
Building on the old zoning would have cost the developer a few lots, said Lisa Sudbury, director of planning.
Cook added that the land has been for sale for a long time and that the buyer has a right to develop it.