New Del Webb Community sparks conversation on “smart growth” in Denton

A new 600-home community for adults aged 55 and up is in the works for Denton County after developer Hillwood Communities sold 120 acres to Del Webb in mid January.

Although the largest developer of age-restricted housing in the country already has a community in Frisco, Hillwood felt their emphasis on an active lifestyle melded well with their vision for Union Park, Hillwood Communities’ 1,000-acre project in Little Elm along US Highway 380. It will feature walking trails, a 35-acre park, a food truck park and a total of 3,200 single family homes.

Denton’s evolution into one of the fastest growing areas in D-FW has become a talking point in the upcoming city council elections, with District 4 candidate Amanda Servis making it a staple of her campaign.

[One of] my main focuses for city council [is] honest and stable expansion/growth of Denton while maintaining its historical value,” wrote Servis in a Facebook post announcing her plans to run for office.

With overcrowding remaining a common concern in Denton as well as limited parking opportunities already making citizens question additional housing, the Denton County Transportation Authority is looking into options to accommodate the needs of a growing population.

“We are working with the city of Denton to address the parking needs in downtown Denton, and there are various options,” Senior Communications Specialist for DCTA Adrienne Hamilton said. “Our desire is to find a solution as soon as possible.”

Some citizens are also asking for the city to focus on smart growth in the years to come.

“Denton is growing no matter what,” UNT English professor and political activist Deborah Armintor said. “The challenge for us as a city is to figure out how to grow in a way that augments our city’s current strengths, not to grow in an arbitrary or destructive way.”

DCTA plans to hold an open house meeting Wednesday, February 15 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Student Union to discuss the upcoming changes to the Denton Connect Bus routes proposed for May 2017, part of their Shaping Our Future plan. Though the prospective changes are not available to the public, they will be released in an online video Feb. 6.

“There could be some routes proposed to be cut, and new routes proposed to be added, but this will be the first time that we have changed our routes since we absorbed the link system that was owned by the city of Denton back in 2006,” Hamilton said. “This will be a really big change.”

The Shaping Our Future plan created in September 2015 looks to identify solutions addressing downtown parking shortages, aesthetics, noise mitigation, and safety enhancements. Hamilton stressed DCTA’s concern with making sure citizens are aware of the changes and hopes people show up to give their input at open houses in the coming weeks.

“[Costs] will be covered in the meetings and also in the video,” said Hamilton. “When that comes out you can find that information there.”

According to Manager of external affairs for Denton Municipal Electric, Brian Daskam, the Renewable Denton Plan is prepared for the upcoming growth, although the major master-planned community is not part of Denton’s Master Plan for 2030.

“Certainly as we planned the Renewable Denton Plan, we understood that our electrical load was going to grow over the years,” said Daskam. “These developments will be right in line with that growth.”

Featured Image: Del Webb runs a retirement community in Frisco called, Frisco Lakes. He is expanding his community in Denton near Little Elm. Kelsey Shoemaker

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