Home Fair Oaks Ranch Planned development stirs pros, cons in Fair Oaks Ranch

Planned development stirs pros, cons in Fair Oaks Ranch

Preservation group fears city resources will be strained

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FAIR OAKS RANCH — Developers are maintaining a dialogue with the city and neighbors about the Pfeiffer Tract’s future, while a preservation group is closely monitoring the project.

A presentation on the proposed development north of Ammann Road, once known as the Reserve, took place during a recent standing-room-only session at City Hall.

“Our goal was to get feedback,” said attorney Rob Killen, who represents new Pfeiffer Tract owners Boerne Ranch Estates. “Our goal was to talk, but to also listen. The mayor did a good job on keeping everyone courteous and on topic. This is an ongoing discussion with the city and community.”

During the meeting, the developers presented the latest information about the 344.65-acre property. A few years ago, previous plans by a different developer encountered opposition from Save Fair Oaks Ranch.

“There are a lot of questions that came up and we want to come up with a full set of answers,” Killen said. “It’s critical to understand that this is a low-density development. We look forward to coming back to the community later this fall to discuss this project again.”

Detractors at the crowded conference said the development would strain city resources and imperil the water supply.

However, Mayor Garry Manitzas said the city is dedicated to finding a solution equitable to both sides.

“We are working with the developer to explore ideas he has for developing the property,” he said. “We had a good first meeting in a public forum and agreed that the developer will take what he learned and come back to us with other thoughts based on what he heard.”

The mayor noted transparency is the key.

“We will keep the public informed and plan to stage future meetings, more of a town-hall variety in a larger venue than City Hall.  It is our desire to get to a point where all parties can get their needs met,” Manitzas said.

Malfunctioning speakers impaired hearing for folks stuck outside the meeting; Manitzas promised this wouldn’t occur again.

At the presentation, Killen presented a plan that included a low-density, single-family development of 585 homes. It would add 1,700 residents, 310 being school-age children, a nursing-home facility and a preschool.

According to a graph summarizing the project and distributed at City Hall, the Pfeiffer Tract would have 1.7 lots per acre and 131 acres of open space.

Save Fair Oaks Ranch members see the proposal differently.

“They want high-density development in an area of our city that is 14 times less dense than the proposed development and where traffic has already increased to an unsafe level,” said an online posting by the group.

According to its website: The “2008 Fair Oaks Ranch Comprehensive Plan calls for lot sizes of 6 acres or more in this area, which would allow a maximum of 60 homes. That type of development is in character with the semirural nature of our city’s north side.”

It continued to say in 2013 city officials inked “a Development Agreement regarding this tract. This agreement allowed up to 645 homes to be built with no input from the residents. Had that actually happened, the negative impact on our community would have been devastating. … The quality of life we enjoy today would have been destroyed had we allowed this to happen.”

Save Fair Oaks Ranch argued at the time the Reserve’s estimated 1,700 new residents meant a “26 percent increase in population on a 7 percent increase in land”; expanded traffic by 1,500 cars; would cause lengthy road construction and delays; and result in a 33 percent increase in wastewater needs, requiring construction of a new plant at an estimated $20 million.

In 2014, 2,400 residents signed a petition, leading City Council to vote against the planned development.

Today, the Pfeiffer Tract operates under the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District, which restricts how many homes can be on a development.

According to Save Fair Oaks Ranch, “These rules are important to protect the quality of our city and the conservation of our water supply. These rules allow no more than 86 homes to be built. In addition, last year the city adopted a new Comprehensive Plan that zones this area as ‘Rural Residential,’ which requires a minimum lot size of 5 acres.”   

For now, Killen said he and the Pfeiffer Tract’s owners are working to answer questions raised by community members and the city, plus prepare for the next presentation.

At press time, a meeting date hasn’t been announced.

Resident Sarah Bond is eager to see what happens.

“I’ve lived in Fair Oaks Ranch for more than 25 years,” Bond said. “I raised my oldest three kids here, and I’ve got my little ones in schools now. I’m not a fan of development and everything changing, but I’m old enough to realize that progress never really slows down.  But, I just don’t want it to change the personality of Fair Oaks Ranch. I love it here.”

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