Officials hire firm to help peg areas for rezoning to match land-use plan
ARGYLE — Town officials say they will avoid making any hurried decisions while attempting to implement the town’s comprehensive plan, which calls for aggressive commercial development along the town’s busiest corridors, Interstate 35W and U.S. Highway 377.
For the next five to eight months, Gateway Planning Group, a Fort Worth-based firm, will identify the areas that need to be rezoned to match the town’s land-use plan.
“The plan outlines some outcomes that are not expected for another 15 to 20 years out,” said Richard Luedke, community services director. “We want to avoid making any quick decisions because you only have one shot to get it right. If you do it wrong, you have to wait about another 40 years to redevelop.”
Officials said they will take their time while implementing the plan because making a hasty decision could alter preferred results.
The rezoning process is the first step in the implementation, Luedke said. Much of the town is zoned under an outdated comprehensive plan, he said.
The current plan calls for dense commercial development while keeping the town’s rural identity intact.
Right now, the population sits at about 3,500, and officials plan to possibly cap it at about 13,000, according to the plan.
“The rolling hills is what attracted people to Argyle, and they don’t want that to change,” Luedke said.
However, the limit on residential development will mean that the town will have stagnant property tax revenues each year, even though the cost for services will continue to rise.
The property tax situation led officials to realize that dense commercial development is needed to meet operating costs.
Officials plan to offset the tax gap by aggressively developing the town’s commercial business tax base.
However, the first step in the plan is to develop the town’s infrastructure sufficiently to meet future needs and sustain growth. For example, Argyle will need adequate sewer and water infrastructure along the corridors to jump-start development, Luedke said.
More than $4 million in sewer system improvements are needed before the town will begin to see heavy commercial development along its major intersections and corridors, officials said.
Town officials estimate the commercial development they are hoping for will begin in about five to eight years, but that will largely depend on whether or not the improvements to the sewer systems are made and how much the town can afford.
Mayor Matt Smith said the town’s focus is on the I-35W corridor, which is where most of the commercial development is expected to take place.
Locating funding for the infrastructure will be the biggest challenge, officials say.
The Town Council, the Planning and Zoning Commission and the economic board officials held their first joint meeting in November regarding funding the infrastructure and addressing the tax gap.
Officials said they will explore funding options in their next meeting, which has yet to be scheduled.
Luedke said he expects to see another joint meeting in about three to four months.
“It’s an ongoing discussion, and it will be for many years,” Luedke said. “We won’t have all the answers on hand right away, and many of our plans may change over time, too.”
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .