After much discussion with residents, the Midlothian City Council approved a new retail center that would contain an Aldi grocery store at its Tuesday night meeting.
The development is located west of the Harvest Hill Drive and Reindeer Drive intersection and abuts the Hunters Glen subdivision.
“This property is located on the southwest corner of Harvest Hill Drive. Six months earlier an application came in from Aldi’s. It was denied. The plan we received (now) was not specific to the Aldi’s location but to the entire property,” Midlothian Planning Director Trenton Robertson said. “They are planning to have a 21,000 square feet grocery store. They went above and beyond on the architecture. The three buildings are behind Aldi are going to be residential style office buildings.”
The site plan presented to the council shows that there would be two additional retail buildings at the location. The three office buildings would be limited to professional office uses only; such as doctors, engineers, and accountants.
Construction on two separate retail buildings is expected to take place starting in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Council member Mike Rodgers expressed his concerns about how the growth could impact traffic.
“It is not my concern about traffic for this one development but for the entire hub. As you know the Kroger development is not complete. I hoped that we would have a traffic study at this point showing that this would all work together,” Rodgers explained. “This is a major congestion point with the QT and 7-Eleven that is not even here yet. My concern is to have here some relief for our residents to be able to get around town.”
City Engineer Mike Adams told the council that Harvest Hill Drive was built with commercial-use in mind and a separate traffic study for this area has not been conducted. He noted that there is a need to create an auxiliary lane on Farm-to-Market Road 663 to help manage traffic better.
City Manager Chris Dick stated the existing commercial zoning on the property could allow for more intense use that could come in by right, and the council would not have a say. These uses could be business such as a movie theater or a home improvement store.
Residents told the council that while they were not opposed to the development, they felt that its location would cause more traffic congestion and would negatively impact the area.
Resident Wayne Leubner told the council this retail center is going to add to heavy traffic that is already present.
“When I first realized that this was coming I didn’t realize that this was that expansive. The gentleman with the traffic brought up a question, are you part of the solution or part of the problem. This is part of the problem,” Leubner said. “I don’t mind Aldi’s in Waxahachie. It is in an area where it is more viable. No matter what the put on the outside, it is going to look cheap on the inside. Kroger created a problem for this. A police or fire station would be better there. There is nothing there to protect the people.”
Resident Joseph Rohr shared Leubner’s concern about the impact the development is going to have on residents. He noted that the two-story homes are going to be able to see the lights from the buildings and the development is going to create more litter.
Fellow resident Cliff Russell stated residents views were not taken into consideration.
“This whole corner is going to be a mess. I love the growth. We need to think about the people to think about that live at Hunters Glen,” Resident Cliff Russell said. “You said to hell with the people in Hunter’s Glen. You haven’t shown enough respect to the people. Why was this zoned like this?”
Russell stated he feels that generic developments like this are going to cause the city to lose its unique identity and culture.
Amy Hogan, whose home borders the project, expressed her frustration about the complications the development could cause.
“I knew when I bought my home that this was going to become a retail space. We do have pretty much one way out of the subdivision. Already it is insane to get my kids to school in the morning with school. All of us do have concerns. We have small children. You are now congesting the one way we get in and out,” Hogan said. “I don’t know what is going in the retail space that is going to abut my backyard that I can see from my second story house. I am going to be looking at all of this.”
Mayor Bill Houston stated it is hard to ease traffic congestion in that area because the roads surrounding the development, such as U.S. Highway 287, are state-controlled. Any expansion of those streets has to be approved by the Texas Department of Transportation.
Council member Wayne Sibley made the motion to approve the development, and Mayor Pro Tem T.J. Henley seconded it. The item passed unanimously.
According to Aldi's website, the company has more than 1,600 stores across 35 states and employs over 25,000 people. The stores over low prices and quick and easy shopping experience with only four to five aisles and all the essentials.
In other business the council,
• Approved a resolution for the Mayor’s Winter Walk hosted by the Midlothian Parks and Recreation Department for Feb. 24.
• Approved an interlocal agreement between the cities Burleson, Mansfield, Kennedale, Tarrant County Constable Precinct 7 and the city to assign a police officer to the Tri-County Auto Theft Task Force starting on Aug. 31.
• Approved a first amendment to the communication system agreement with the City of Fort Worth to allow smart access to the WAVE system.
• Approved an ordinance granting a specific use permit for a water well on a lot located at 3031 Clear Creek Drive.
• Approved to deny an ordinance amending the city’s comprehensive plan’s future land use map by changing from a rural module to a suburban module on 1,502.9 acres of land located between Baucum Road and Dunn Road.
• Approved appointments to various city boards, commissions, council subcommittees, and council board liaison positions.
• Approved the purchase of 2.067 acres located at the southeast corner of Main Street and U.S. Highway 287 in Midlothian.
• Approved a resolution authorizing the advance of $92,879.15 to Gatehouse Midlothian Development by the Midlothian Community Development Corporation, which restores the MCDC mezzanine loan to its original value of $4,290,726.