By Bill Spinks

A proposal for a single-family development on a 19.255-acre property drew plenty of discussion during last week’s meeting of the Midlothian City Council. The developer eventually withdrew his application after councilmembers deemed the lot widths too narrow.

The property, to be known as Villas on the Square, is located on the east side of 14th Street and just south of Mount Zion Road. It was originally zoned in 2016 as a planned development for hotel use and amended again in 2018 to allow commercial and retail use. The developer, however, was proposing to change it to single-family housing with 97 lots.

Of the total acreage, 3.37 acres would be open space, and the development would also contain a dog park, two water features and landscaped entrances with stamped concrete. Brick fencing was planned along all roads and wrought-iron fencing for the rest of the perimeter, with a wooden privacy fence in one area adjoining an existing homeowner’s property.

City planning director Trenton Robertson said homes in the area of one water feature would be allowed to have front-entry garages, and the remainder would be rear-entry.

Councilmembers, though, balked at the high density of the development, with most lots only 40 feet wide. Councilmember Mike Rodgers also noted the setbacks in some of the rear-entry lots were very close and could cause a problem with emergency services as well as simple ingress and egress.

Robertson said there is 10 feet of space minimum required between houses, which could require garages in these homes to be placed in front of the front door on those homes with front entries. Mayor Richard Reno and councilmember Wayne Sibley both opposed these designs.

Applicant Terrance Jobe said he is willing to change the lot widths to 50 feet, but doing so would reduce the amount of green space in the development.

Jobe said the homes in this neighborhood will be high-quality homes, and he is willing to change the proposal to all rear entries if that was what the council desired. Jobe added that the setback on all rear entries is 18 feet with an extra foot and a half before pavement begins, which should provide plenty of room to park most vehicles.

Ultimately, because of the council’s opposition to the narrow lots, Jobe asked to withdraw his application and work with city staff on another design.

Eventually, the two ends of Mount Zion Road will be connected to form one continuous thoroughfare, city director of engineering and utilities Mike Adams said.

An initial zoning of a recently-annexed 11-acre parcel at 3860 Plainview Road as Agricultural was approved.

Additionally, a public hearing date for the creation of Redden Farms Public Improvement District was set for Sept. 22. A related resolution approving terms and conditions of a development agreement of about 253 acres of Redden Farms was also agreed to.

Other items

• The council reviewed the proposed budget for fiscal year 2020-2021 and a proposed ad valorem tax rate of 67.5 cents per $100 valuation, a decrease in the rate. The council approved a four-percent step increase in pay for city employees in the proposed budget. A public hearing for the tax rate and budget adoption will be held at the next council meeting Sept. 8.

• Mayor Reno recognized the Midlothian Fire Department Emergency Medical Services for being a recipient of the Mission Lifeline EMS Gold Plus Award from the American Heart Association.

• Reno also recognized Texas House District 10 Rep. John Wray with a proclamation announcing Aug. 27 as John Wray Day in the city of Midlothian. Wray announced last year he would not seek re-election to a fourth two-year term.

• The mayor also proclaimed that National Night Out will be held Oct. 6 in Midlothian, and that a kickoff event for NNO will be held this Saturday, Sept. 5, at Midlothian Community Park.

• The consent agenda was approved, consisting of approval of minutes from the Aug. 11 meeting and a resolution approving the investment policies for the city and its development authorities.

• A retail water service area agreement between the city and Sardis-Lone Elm Water Supply Corporation was approved. The two water systems will swap service areas with an almost-equal number of future customers.

• The council approved the issuance of no more than $1.5 million in bonds for street improvements on Mount Zion, Hawkins Run and Old Fort Worth roads. The interest on these bonds will be less than one percent and the bond will be paid off in February 2021, councilmembers were told. The vote was 5-1, with councilmember Clark Wickliffe opposing.

• The issuance of $5 million in bonds by the Midlothian Community Development Corporation to help fund the Community Park Phase II project was approved. These bonds, which are scheduled for a 20-year payoff, will run at 2.3 percent annual interest and will be paid off through sales tax receipts.

• Councilmembers agreed to give the city the option of filing for funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund for reimbursement of about $1.5 million in expenditures.

• Following an executive session, Reno announced that he has directed staff to take action on "Project Moondriver" and move forward with an abatement agreement on the project.