ARGYLE — Cheers and dismay greeted the Argyle Town Council’s vote that cleared the way for development of a new Brookshire’s grocery store near a local elementary school.
After hearing more than three hours of comments from residents for and against the proposed development, the council voted 4-1 late Tuesday night to allow the grocery to be built. Council member Joan Delashaw cast the sole vote against the proposal.
The ordinance allows for the grocery to be included in a planned development known as Argyle Town Village Old Town District, which originally included a government building as the anchor instead of the grocery store.
“The zoning is already in place; all that’s being changed is the arrangement of the buildings to add a retail anchor,” said Richard Luedke, community development director.
DEMA Partners LP is the property owner for the project. Brookshire’s is the developer and Ballard & Braughton Engineering is the engineering firm for the project. The Argyle Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the amendment earlier this month.
Controversy over the development prompted Bookshire’s developers to say that construction on the grocery store probably will not begin until after 2015. A Brookshire’s representative told the council the company would rather focus first on developments that have had a more positive response from the community.
Residents have been divided over the project, with a petition started by the Keep Argyle Safe group collecting more than 350 signatures from people opposed to the amendment or from those who wanted more lengthy discussion about the proposal.
Argyle resident Emily Valentino, who started the petition, said residents deserved more time to hear from the developers to learn more about the development before its approval.
“You can’t vote on this,” she told the council. “I’m for the store, but there has been no public input.”
The grocery store developers also collected signatures in support of the store from about 1,000 people who live in or near Argyle, on their website, www.myargylegrocer.com. The website did not offer an option to vote against the proposition.
Almost every resident agreed that Argyle needs a grocery store, but at least half were opposed to the proposed location, which sits just to the west of Hilltop Elementary School.
Opponents have argued that the store would increase traffic and create a safety hazard for the children, and some protested the idea of having alcohol sold near the school.
But others said the addition of a grocery store does more good than harm, if any. Many residents said Argyle is long overdue for a grocery store and that it will bring in revenue that the Town Council can use for continued growth.
Council member Joey Hasty said he believed that the grocery store falls in line with the city’s comprehensive plan, which calls for commercial development.
“I’m not going to base my vote on whether or not I’m going to be re-elected,” Hasty said. “I’m going to do what’s right for Argyle. I’m voting for what I think the majority of the residents want.”
At one point, council member Jeff Cantrell made a motion to postpone the vote until April to allow for additional discussion, but the motion died for lack of a second.
Argyle resident Kirby Hicks spoke in front of the council during the meeting and recalled a time in which he met with Mayor Peggy Krueger while she was a council member, before she was elected as mayor’.
He said Krueger told him and others at the meeting that the town would not approve any developments that would affect any of the residents’ homes and quality of life.
“Mayor, I ask you to stop this process and be a woman of your word,” he said. “This is all about money. The developer wants the best return on the dollar. But I want the best return on my dollar and my home.”
With the Town Council motion to approve the amendment, members also included a few changes, such as closing a few entrances along Harrison Lane, to limit the possibility of traffic congestion near the elementary school.
And the council also voted to prohibit truck traffic along that same road.
Luedke said the next step includes the developer creating a plat and site plan, which will include more concrete details about the project, including architectural design, utility and drainage specifications, parking and sidewalks.
“That’s a pretty lengthy process and it typically takes a developer four to six months to prepare,” he said.
Once the site plan is ready to present, it will go before the council for final approval.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.