Council finalizes industrial rezoning

Planned development OK’d after changes made to traffic patterns; $5M MED incentive tossed in

Bill Spinks
Midlothian Mirror
Midlothian City Hall.

In a special Midlothian City Council meeting last Thursday afternoon, councilmembers finally were able to tie up loose ends on a proposed industrial development on the west side of the city.

A proposed rezoning of a 356-acre property west of the U.S. Highway 67-287 interchange, north of U.S. 67 and east of Ward Road, to a planned development for commercial and heavy industrial uses was approved 6-0, with councilmember Clark Wickliffe not present. The item had been tabled the week before as debate lasted well over two hours.

Related to the same development project, an economic development performance agreement with the property owners, collectively known as Industrial VI Enterprises, LLC, was approved. The agreement provides for a possible $5 million incentive for infrastructure improvements.

The city Planning and Zoning Commission had approved the rezoning at its Oct. 19 meeting. The Hillwood Communities industrial development is adjacent to the Gerdau solar farm under construction and is immediately south of the proposed Westside Preserve development.

City planning director Trenton Robertson told the council that some clarifying changes were made to the language of the proposed planned development ordinance. The traffic pattern has been changed to ease ingress and egress from the U.S. 67 access road, and height restrictions were added based on how far from residential development new buildings will be built, with a maximum of 55 feet — a reduction from the original proposal of a 70-foot limit.

City Attorney Kevin Laughlin said the development will be built in phases, based on improvements to two bordering arterial roads — Ward Road and Old Fort Worth Road — as well as right-turn lanes on the U.S. 67 access road to handle truck traffic. Certificates of occupancy will not be issued for each phase until the corresponding road improvement is completed.

Laughlin added that Industrial VI Enterprises do not own the land to the east, so right-of-way for expanding Old Fort Worth Road will have to be purchased. Laughlin said construction would be paid for by the parties.

Impact fees were also discussed. City Manager Chris Dick said the amount of fees due to the city could vary greatly based on what type of industry locates in the development. Dick said the city may also refund impact fees based on the amount the developer spends on infrastructure development.

“The biggest concern is Old Fort Worth Road just because of … the right-of-way acquisitions,” Dick said. “We all know how rights-of-way can be sometimes. If it wasn’t for the right-of-way issue, I don’t think we’d have much concern at all.”

Dick also said a sunset clause has been added to the ordinance that makes it null and void if the purchase of the property has not closed by March 1.

Addressing the concern over truck traffic, Hillwood representative Austin Reynolds showed that a tight roundabout-like feature will be added to Ward Road to discourage 18-wheelers from turning north to drive past existing residences. This satisfied councilmember Walter Darrach, who had indicated he was prepared to vote against.

The type of “heavy industry” sought for the development is the non-polluting type such as brick-and-mortar distribution centers and local HVAC shops, Hillwood representatives have previously stated. Large-volume “fulfillment centers” in the mold of Amazon won’t be a part of the project.

Kyle Kinateder, president and CEO of Midlothian Economic Development, presented an overview of the $5 million incentive. Kinateder said MED would approve the payment upon completion of the project with the following stipulations:

• that Industrial VI Enterprises must close on the land by Jan, 31;

• that infrastructure permits are obtained by Oct. 1, 2022;

• that a $20 million capital investment be made and 25 jobs be created; and

• that all infrastructure and 700,000 square feet of industrial space be completed by the end of 2024. Kinateder said this requirement was extended by a year from the original proposal.

The immediate benefits of the incentive are the added infrastructure and space, Kinateder said. In addition, Kinateder emphasized that this is not a tax abatement, so the city, Midlothian ISD and Ellis County will each realize full property tax revenue benefits.