Update on Walmart/Sam’s Club with Debbie Brinkman as Requested by HOA – January 7, 2016

In response to the concerns about a Walmart and Sam’s Club in their back yard the Palisades HOA asked Debbie Brinkman for an update.  A meeting was scheduled for Jan. 7th in the Community Room which was standing room only with overflow out the doors.  Council person Brinkman began the meeting by saying the meeting was intended to be with a neighborhood but had grown larger than expected and it would end at 7pm.  She then provided a short history of the current zoning on the land.  The zoning came about back in the mid 80’s when the city negotiated with the owners of the property – the Ensor family.  In exchange for the zoning the Ensor’s provided land to the city that allowed Mineral to be built to the west across the river.

The Ensor’s have a property right to their zoning she said.

City Manager, Michael Penny, said developers came in and looked at the “base zoning” to see what could be built as a use by right (means a public process would not be required).  The value of the property is what you can build on it and this site has massive development potential.  The asking price for the property is $25,000,000 and it will require $17,000,000 to $20,000,000 in public improvements.  Penny said the Ensor property and the Dish Network properties are the only two that he thinks an urban renewal project will take place.  There are two primary reasons to use urban renewal – LIFT (the urban renewal authority) can bond and can take tax dollars away from other taxing entities (tax increment financing).

Penny droned on until someone interrupted him to ask if the property could be bought for open space.  He said the land costs $25 million and they only get about $800K a year for open space.  He added that we need to add housing and strong retail and that we already have a substantial amount of open space.

Penny said that a developer could come forward and want to use tax increment financing to develop the land.  If so, they would be required to bring forward pro forma financial info and the council would consider the merits of the pro forma.  There might be a negotiation – if they want money to build then the council can negotiate what the zoning will be.  He indicated that the council would be in control of the process.  He told the citizens not to get confused with urban renewal.  (But to discuss this property without discussing urban renewal is only telling half the story.  The council is not in control – they approved the urban renewal plan with the current zoning.  It is LIFT that has the authority to issue the bonds and negotiate the zoning with a developer.  Only if the land needs rezoning will it come before the council.  And, the land is being contested in court – the County does not believe it can be legally included in the urban renewal area.  A judge will be hearing arguments on Jan. 22, 2016.  I will explain all this in another post ASAP.)

The meeting deteriorated around 6:45 – Penny had monopolized the meeting and citizens wanted to ask questions and were getting impatient.

A citizen asked who was responsible for the cost benefit study and he said that staff will go to city council.  (Not true – it is the responsibility of LIFT.)  Penny then spoke about impact fees.

Penny was asked about the social and environmental impacts which he responded with a none answer.

At one point Penny told the group that he was not lying to which a citizen told him that she did not believe him.  Citizens wanted questions answered and in Penny’s attempt to regain control of the meeting he told the group that this was not a public meeting!

Brinkman was asked about the comments she made to Peter Jones of The Villager.  She said she stands by her comments and her words were taken out of context.  She had a 45 minute conversation with him and it is not true that Walmart and Sam’s Club are coming.

A citizen read a transcript from the LIFT meeting where Jim Rees told LIFT that he was in discussions with Endeavor – Penny said he had not talked to Jim Rees.

At the January 5th council meeting, councilman Clark said there was a map that depicted Walmart and Sam’s Club on the south end of the Ensor property.  Penny acknowledged that there is a map with two big boxes depicted.  Brinkman claims that Walmart and Sam’s Club are coming and the Exec. Director for LIFT says he is in discussions with Endeavor from Dallas and they build WalMarts and Sam’s Clubs.  If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…………………………………



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