Starbucks drive-thru gets Council's OK

City fathers override P&Z rejection after site plan changes are made

Bill Spinks
Midlothian Mirror
A photo of the Starbucks location on Boat Club Road in northern Fort Worth was provided at the Midlothian City Council meeting last week. The Fort Worth location was presented as an analogous example of the new Starbucks store on Hawkins Run Road that was approved by a narrow 4-3 margin.

A proposed Starbucks to serve caffeine-craving customers on the south side of town will move forward after all, following action by a divided Midlothian City Council at its July 13 regular semimonthly meeting.

The council narrowly voted to approve a new site plan for the coffee shop on Hawkins Run Road, with councilmembers Wayne Sibley, Walter Darrach, Clark Wickliffe and Justin Coffman in favor. Mayor Richard Reno, mayor pro tem Ted Miller and councilmember Hud Hartson voted against.

The city Planning and Zoning Commission had rejected the specific-use permit to build the java joint during its June meeting by a 4-2 vote, mostly because of traffic concerns with a new elementary school opening nearby in 2022. But since then, city planning director Trenton Robertson said, a new site plan was formulated.

The new plan allows for more queuing of drive-thru traffic to help prevent cars backing up onto Hawkins Run. Robertson said staff was also satisfied with changes in architecture to the building, and a proposed dumpster enclosure was moved to the west side of the property to allay adjoining residents’ concerns of odor and rodents.

The store will be Starbucks’ second standalone location in Midlothian, and the company’s third location overall in town. A store exists on the U.S. Highway 67 frontage road north of Main Street, and a Starbucks is also located inside the Kroger supermarket.

Shelly Anderson, store development manager for Starbucks in North Texas, told councilmembers that Starbucks wants to be a community partner and is looking for relief for the other standalone store. The original store was constructed in 2007 and is prone to traffic backups onto the U.S. 67 access road. Anderson admitted that not as much corporate thought was given to drive-through efficiency 14 years ago.

Anderson said Starbucks has made improvements at its new stores to improve flow of traffic and make drive-thru service faster. She also said the driveways will be wide enough for in-store customers to enter, park and exit without interference from drive-thru customers.

Councilmember Darrach voiced the strongest support for the new Starbucks, saying the changes that were made to the site plan since last month’s P&Z denial demonstrated the company’s desire to work with the city. Darrach also warned that problems associated with the existing store location are being projected unfairly on the new store. But Mayor Reno remained skeptical that the queuing problem in the drive-thru had been solved.

Other items

• The council called a special meeting for Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall to review and discuss three bids on the former Lawson Buildings at 211 and 301 West Main Street.

• The council heard a water and wastewater rate plan and financial plan presentation from Dan Jackson, vice president of Willdan Financial Services. Because of capital improvements planned by the Trinity River Authority, which provides water to several cities in North Texas, the city’s average rates are projected to rise by about $6 per month per customer over a 5-year period, Jackson said.

• A lengthy consent agenda included approval of previous meeting minutes; several amendments to city building code regulations based on widely-accepted international codes; and the addition of Ellis County Emergency Services District 9 and the Ennis Independent School District to the countywide public radio safety system operated by the city of Midlothian.

• An SUP for a Bank of America drive-thru at 2211 FM 663 was approved. The drive-thru will allow for two automated teller machines.

• The council approved a zoning change for a 46.635-acre portion of a larger 70-acre property north of FM 875, between McAlpin Road and Skinner Road, from Agricultural to a planned development for residential uses. The zoning change only covers the portion of the property that lies in Midlothian city limits; the remainder lies in Waxahachie’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. The item passed 6-0, with Hartson recusing himself from the vote.

• Driveway access was granted onto McAlpin Road for a 7.478-acre residential property.

• An amendment to an agreement for professional services with Freese and Nichols, Inc. for additional engineering-related services associated with the next phased expansion of the city’s Auger Water Treatment Plant was approved in an amount not to exceed $934,589.

• Professional services were approved for design and related professional services with Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. for two major road works: the McAlpin Road (just east of FM 663 to Plainview Road) roadway improvement project in an amount not to exceed $970,200; and the Mockingbird Lane (Midlothian Parkway to North Walnut Grove Road) project in an amount not to exceed $975,200.

• Councilmembers approved an agreement with Vidaurri Management Group for project management support in the architectural/engineering firm selection and on-boarding for the new Public Safety facility and City Hall/Library in an amount not to exceed $23,760. Assistant city manager Clyde Melick said the city has received dozens of combined responses to bids for both structures, and Vidaurri’s responsibility will be to vet the large number of bids.

• A $182,800 total bid was awarded to Jay Mills Contracting from Midlothian Economic Development for the construction of a right turn lane off of U.S. Highway 67 to Midlothian Business Park.

• The tax abatement agreement with SunOpta Grains and Foods Inc. that was approved in late April was restructured to name Cornerstone Development Partners, LLC as the property owner. The council in April approved an 8-year tax abatement agreement with SunOpta that will begin at the end of 2022, when the proposed facility is expected to be complete. The abatement amount will be 65 percent for the first four years, and 55 percent for the next four years. The abatement will apply only to new taxable value and to real property; inventory will be taxed at the full rate.

•¨A change order to the agreement with Dean Electric, Inc. dba Dean Construction was agreed to in the amount of $75,468 for the costs associated with the additional soil and concrete work and overflow pipe to secure the dam at Midlothian Community Park Phase II. City parks director Heather Dowell said recent heavy rains have eroded the spillway area and the expenditure will not change the overall budgeted amount of the project.

• The council approved an agreement with CIGNA to provide medical, flexible spending account administration, and voluntary vision insurance benefits with MetLife providing dental insurance benefits for city employees.

• Following an executive session to discuss real estate matters, the council took no public action.