City poses growth question to citizens

City poses growth question to citizens

City poses growth question to citizens
October 17
22:44 2013

Joshua Knopp / Staff Writer

The city of Denton unveiled a rough draft for its 2030 mission statement tonight, as well as four alternatives for how citizens want the city to grow.

In five stations set up around the auditorium of the Denton Civic Center, city officials outlined why growth needs to be planned out, what factors are going into it and what options Denton residents have.

The city wants public input on what should grow where, said John Fernsler. Fernsler works with Wallace, Roberts and Todd, the Philadelphia-based contracting company that is helping Denton with its 2030 plan.

“The starting point is, ‘How much land is going to be developed where?'” he said.

Fernsler used the example of a new one-bedroom house. If it is built on property that is already near existing roads, water pipelines and emergency services, it won’t cost the city as much as the same house being built on the outskirts, because the city will need to provide more infrastructure.

According to the city’s information, Denton is on pace for 94,000 new citizens in 2030, requiring 37,000 new housing units. If the city does not change course, this growth will lead to 500,000 more vehicles on the road. Out of the new development, 65 percent will consume rural areas and 70 percent of it will be outside Loop 288. Only 35 percent of new development will be within walking distance of jobs.

“If we don’t have infrastructure there, it’s going to cost us,” he said. “The general thread is the more compact we grow, the more efficient we are.”

Officials presented this scenario and three alternatives for public vote. One scenario centers around current neighborhoods. This features 60 percent of development inside Loop 288 and 88 percent of new housing units near places of employment.

Another scenario centers development around Denton’s main roads, with 61 percent of development inside 288.

The final scenario features 100 percent of future growth taking place inside Loop 288. The city will focus on area they already own, putting 74 percent of growth on underutilized or vacant land.

Residents are also allowed to vote on what their general priorities are so that the city can adjust its final growth plan precisely.

“The ultimate scenario is going to be some combination,” Fernsler said. “It’s basically for us to understand why they preferred certain scenarios.”

Attendants of the forum review their options for growth planning. Five stations   were set up to provide citizens with more information. Photo by Clare Spaulding / Contributing Photographer

Attendants of the forum review their options for growth planning. Five stations were set up to provide citizens with more information. Photo by Clare Spaulding / Contributing Photographer

About 30 people attended, many of them with children. Virgil Strange, chairman of the citizens advisory committee, said that isn’t enough.

“Tonight’s lighter than I had hoped,” he said. “This is important for the entire city of Denton. I was hoping that the crowd would be at least twice this size.”

However, many of the attendees had strong opinions about the growth plans. Jon Huricks, who attended with his daughter, voted for the plans focused on neighborhoods and roads.

“One of the things I notice driving around the city is there’s not a lot of land being used,” he said. He thought the neighborhood-based plan would help solve that. He said the corridor plan, on the other hand, would help keep more money by focusing economic development where people are driving.

Planning supervisor Ron Menguita said the city hopes to have a finalized plan for 2030 by the fall of next year.

The city will hold this information session again on Nov. 9 at 9 a.m. in the MLK Jr. Recreation Center and will hold a UNT-oriented version Oct. 29 at 2 p.m. in McConnell Hall.

Denton resident Linnie McAdams studies a current map of the city. This map was   contrasted with the way Denton could look in twenty years. Feature photo by Clare Spaulding / Contributing Photographer

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