By Bill Spinks

Midlothian’s downtown area will look very different in the future, and the City Council took steps Monday night to start directing the development of the city’s central business district.

During its semimonthly meeting, the council amended the city’s Comprehensive Plan by approving the adoption of the 2020 Downtown Plan. This plan provides a vision and official policy for the future of the downtown area. Eventually, the plan’s intent is to expand the boundaries of the central business district over time to strengthen the core of the downtown.

The current CBD, as recognized in the study leading up to the plan, consists of about 27 blocks. Future growth will expand the CBD to a much larger area, bounded roughly by 1st Street to the west, 14th Street to the east, Avenue B to the north and Walter Stephenson Drive to the south.

However, the plan will allow for residential as well as commercial use. Responding to a question from a resident of 7th Street, assistant city manager Clyde Melick quickly assured her that no homeowners will be forced out of their houses.

"This is a public-private partnership," Melick said. "We don’t plan through this plan on buying out houses. Now if there’s some property we want, we might acquire it down the road. But at this point we’re not looking to acquire homes."

The plan is a result of more than a year of work that included committee meetings, interviews, workshops, public input, analysis and staff collaborations.

The planning began by identifying the assets that downtown Midlothian already has, as well as challenges and things that downtown is missing. The planning later grew into a downtown vision, with mixed uses, vibrant public spaces, creating a cultural hub, and walkability and safety identified.

"I appreciate the process that went into this," Mayor Pro Tem Justin Coffman said. "We got a lot of feedback from the community. So I feel like this — what’s on this paper and what was being presented tonight — is an accurate representation of the voice of Midlothian ctizens."

Highlights of the Illustrative Master Plan include a new central square anchored by a new City Hall, and catalyst projects such as recent median improvements on Main Street.

Other items

• Mayor Richard Reno began the meeting by offering his condolences to the family of former councilmember William Hollabaugh, who passed away recently. Hollabaugh served on the council from 1998 to 2004.

• Consent agenda items included temporary concrete batch plants for both the Grove and Hawkins Meadows developments and the abandonment of a soils conservation easement at 1211 Bosque Lane.

• In a matter that was held over from the May 26 meeting, a contract with Dean Electric Inc. (dba Dean Construction) for site work, utilities and amenity improvements for Phase II of Midlothian Community Park was approved. The contract is worth a maximum of $18.4 million, with an additional $700,000 contingency amount that will include baseball restrooms, a multipurpose court, a sand volleyball court and court lighting.

• The sale of an 8.8-acre parcel of land within the Midlothian Business Park to TGCNA was approved, as well as an economic development performance agreement with Vision Engineering and Metal Stamping Inc. to provide a possible incentive of up to $200,000 for job creation.

• The council agreed to a five-year service contract with UBEO Business Services for 31 Ricoh copiers and one Canon Wide Format printer. The current contract expires in October.

• A retail water service agreement with Mountain Peak Special Utility District was agreed to, designating service areas between the city and the SUD for a small area to the south of U.S. Highway 287. The city will take over service at the location where a new elementary school has been proposed.

• A development agreement for Phase II of the Mockingbird Springs development was approved.

• Councilmembers OK’d an agreement with BNSF Railway for improvements to an at-grade crossing at VV Jones Road, at a cost of $277,846. The city will reimburse BNSF for the crossing improvement costs, and in turn, the Midlothian Development Authority will reimburse the city for the same amount.

• The council entered into an interlocal agreement with Midlothian ISD for the assignment of a police commander, a police sergeant and seven school resource officers to MISD for the upcoming school year.

• Following an executive session, the council took no action.