Corinth residents protest development plan

Corinth residents protest development plan

Corinth residents protest development plan
August 26
14:16 2013

Mollie Jamison / Staff Writer

More than 40 Corinth residents are protesting a developer’s plan to clear cut land and build new homes on 20 acres behind their neighborhood in Oakmont Country Club.

“This is a real green issue,” resident Kristie Nader said. “It’s a whole movement. It’s a vision. Do our city leaders have a vision for Corinth to be a beautiful place?”

The new development, which is phase two of the project, will consist of 43 new homes that are larger and narrower than the houses built in phase one, said Mayor of Corinth Paul Ruggiere, who is also the director of the UNT Survey Research Center. He said the developer plans to preserve 20 feet of trees that separate phases one and two.

Nader and the other protesting residents were a part of phase one of the project.

Phase one of a land development in Corinth. Residents in the neighborhood are protesting phase two.

According to the current tree ordinance, adopted in May of this year, if you cut down a six-inch tree, you have to replace that tree with six more inches of trees. The developer has asked the city for an exception to these rules.

That would work on a lot where there are a number of trees,” Ruggiere said. “In this case, it’s somewhat of a forest and to replace all of those trees, there is simply nowhere to put them. Phase one looked just like phase two 15 years ago. It was all trees.”

Celisa Willson, a realtor in Corinth, said that with the Texas heat, trees not only help with curb appeal, but the shade they provide actually helps control cooling costs.

“One of the big things we hear in real estate that people don’t want to be in a brand new community where there are all these tiny trees,” Willson said. “They want those mature trees.”

Houses in phase one were built individually, after each lot was sold and current residents agree that the lack of trees in the new development will prevent the homes from selling. The lots in their neighborhood without trees haven’t sold in the past 15 years.

“There are 55 lots in our phase one,” Nader said. “Five of them are not built on and four of those are clear cut. They aren’t selling. It’s not attractive and no body wants to build a house where there aren’t any mature trees. There are neighborhoods like that, that are a lot cheaper and there are people that live in them. But that’s not what this neighborhood is.”

With the completion of the new homes, residents also fear that there will be a dramatic increase in traffic.

“There is only one way in and out,” Nader said. “We are talking about 43 houses, so that’s 86 to100 more cars. It’s going to change the quiet, nice little neighborhood that we have.”

Ruggiere however, sees the development as an opportunity for the city to grow.

“If a city has room to grow, it’s generally a good thing,” he said. “In cities like Detroit on the other hand, that are shrinking and losing population, they have all sorts of problems related to population loss. So when a city is growing, it brings more revenue into the city. Revenue that can be used to get taxes down, improve parks and get the types of amenities that people want.”

Current residents said they are afraid that the development will affect their property value.

“While I understand the importance of generating revenue for our city, I think it is also very important to help maintain the value of the existing homes,” Willson said. “Those are the people that are already invested in our community. We don’t want to effect their property values in a negative way.”

Ruggiere said that the proposed city budget for the upcoming year includes a tax hike.

“In my view, if this neighborhood existed today it would raise just as much revenue as that tax hike is raising,” he said.

Ruggiere also supports the development because of the proposed upscale homes.

“Any time you can add population to your city that is more in the upper income area, that improves our ability as a city to attract the types of retail that our residents want,” he said.

Nader said the developer hasn’t purchased the land yet and that the bank owns it because a previous developer foreclosed on it.

“The developer is in contact with the bank and he’ll buy it if he can get our city to give him a pass on all these rules,” Nader said. “Then he’ll develop, clear cut and grade the land. We have armadillos, possums, bobcats and butterflies. All of that will be wiped out.”

In the most recent meetings, the Planning and Zoning Committee ruled against giving the developer the exceptions needed to continue with the project. The City Council ruled in favor of the developer. Another Planning and Zoning meeting is set for today at 7 p.m. at the Corinth City Hall followed by a City Council meeting Sept. 5.

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