MIDLOTHIAN — A standing-room crowd filled the Midlothian City Council chambers with many voicing their opposition to two proposed retail projects, while a third received support from both the public and city staff.
The public hearing was among the several requested zoning changes heard during the Tuesday evening session.
The first applicant to face opposition was Hawkins Midlothian Development, who is proposing to build a 7-11 store at the intersection of Hawkins Road and Farm to Market Road 663.
Introducing the project's details was Midlothian Planning Director Trenton Robertson, who read the request made by the developer for a Specific Use Permit (SUP) to allow the land to be used for a gasoline station and retail sales, as well as for the approval of the associated site plan.
“While the Planning and Zoning Commission denied the request at their May meeting, the staff recommends approval,” Robertson said.
All of the five speakers during the public hearing opposed the request with concerns of reduced property value and traffic congestion.
“There not enough access off and on FM 663. This will only increase the congestion that is already there,” Kim Holder said. “There are already several gas stations in the immediate area. Why do we want to allow another? This is just not a good idea.”
City Engineer Mike Adams addressed the traffic issues saying there will be no direct access to the store through the subdivisions surrounding the store. He then told the staff, council and audience, “There are controls that are already being planned. There will be additional striping on FM 663."
A vote of 4-to-3 approved the request.
The developers on a proposed Aldi supermarket also approached the council with a specific use request to allow a grocery store at the desired location and, at the same time, approve their site plan.
The application filed by Aldi, Inc proposed a 21,900 square foot store to be located at the intersection of Reindeer and Harvest Hill Roads.
Presenting the request to the council, Robertson stated the Midlothian Planning and Zoning Board approved the application, but with conditions.
Five citizens spoke during the public hearing — all in opposition. Comments such ranged from "It’s a bad choice for this location" to "We do not need another grocery store" and "this will make an already bad traffic situation worse" were heard by the council.
Midlothian Mayor Pro-Tem T.J Henley stated, “I’m not real excited about having an Aldi grocery store in the community.”
Councilwoman Jimmie McClure agreed with Henley.
Mayor Bill Houston said he had 11 letters for citizens opposing the store.
Henley made the motion to deny the request and the motion passed 4-to-3.
A third zoning request, this time by McCoy’s Building Supply, was presented in hopes of building a retail store consisting of a sales building, attached warehouse, rack supported canopy, and open-air storage area. The store would be located at the intersections of Shady Grove and Plainview roads.
But again, much like with the approved 7-11, traffic considerations were raised.
Adams addressed those issues stating, "McCoy’s has planned and taken steps to alleviate any traffic issues.”
Both staff and public speakers spoke in favor of the proposed project.
The request passed by a unanimous vote.
The city council also considered the annexation of approximately 118 acres and, after some discussion, passed the measure with a 6-to-1 vote.
The involuntary annexation is an area that is currently in the exclusive-extraterritorial jurisdiction of the City of Midlothian and is surrounded by city limits on all four sides, just off U.S. Highway 287, between Primrose Drive and South Walnut Grove Road.
Council member Ted Miller suggested the council have a delayed period for the annexation.
“There are many businesses in that area that will not be used to paying city taxes. This could cause a problem with many businesses and some will move out of the area," he explained.
A series of three public hearings will be scheduled with the first one scheduled for July 18.
These hearings are based on the 20-to-40-day window in which the public hearings have to be held before the final adoption of the annexation ordinance. A special-called meeting of the City Council will need to take place to ensure compliance with state regulations.