Council rejects apartments that ignored plan commission recommendation

That is the lesson Lennar Multifamily Communities learned on Wednesday when the city council rejected its appeal to build a 294-unit apartment complex on a 4.3-acre plot on Garland Road. Although city staff recommended the request for a mixed-use planning development district, City Councilman Mark Clayton knew weeks ago he wouldn’t approve the project.

“When it comes to Lennar,” he told the Advocate on Aug. 15, “if it didn’t make it past plan commission, it’s not making it past me.”

In July, Plan Commissioner Michael Jung, Clayton’s appointee who oversees Garland Road, called the project “too dense for the neighborhood” when rejecting it without prejudice. “I suggested 40 units (per acre),” he said at the meeting. “The developer said there’d be no way to make that work.”

Lennar went back to council this week with the same project, which was again rejected.


Lennar's proposed design for a 294-apartment complex on Garland Road.
Lennar’s proposed design for a 294-apartment complex on Garland Road.

Neighbors say they are ok with a multifamily development — there are several in that area — but do not want a high-density project towering multiple stories over Garland Road. There’s a general fear of “looking like Uptown,” with many citing the preciousness of real estate around White Rock Lake.

“We believe [this project] would provide no real benefit to the neighborhood,” Vail Fassett, president of the Little Forest Hills Neighborhood Association, said earlier this summer. “It will ruin the small-town feel of our neighborhood. And that’s why people move here, for that sense of community.”

Because the plan commission rejected the proposal without prejudice, Lennar has the option of resubmitting its proposal after altering the design to better suit the commission’s concerns.

The land in question includes 9353 Garland Road, which currently houses White Rock Community Church, along with a medical office building at  9335 Garland Parkway. Pastor Douglas Shaffer says the congregation put the building up for sale to further its missionary work, which specifically includes assisting AIDS patients. They plan to share a physical space with another church, and are currently “courting partners,” he says.

White Rock Community Church could be replaced with a high-density housing complex on Garland Road.
White Rock Community Church.

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