The Leander City Council approved a rezoning request for the Chapman Parks development on Thursday night. The council also accepted a landowner petition to allow developers to create a financing district for public improvements in the planned 317-acre development at the northwestern city limits.
The council will hold a second public hearing on the rezoning request and on creation of the financing district on March 15.
Home buyers who pay an average of $338,000 for a home in the Property Improvement District (PID) will be assessed an estimated 41 cents per $100 of property valuation to pay for parks and open space, trails, swimming pools, community facilities and landscaping. The assessment is forecast to generate about $21 million over 30 years to be administered by the developer with oversight from the city.
The first of two public hearings to change the zoning for four parcels of land in the development drew opposition from many of the same neighboring property owners who opposed the request at a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on February 22.
The commission turned down the request after hearing from 15 residents.
The city council voted 4-3 in favor, however, after hearing from about 30 people on March 1. The split vote included discussion of the city’s overall approach to growth and neighbors’ concerns that Chapman Parks does not fit in the current undeveloped landscape in the area.
“People who are here now are overwhelmingly against this,” said Place 6 Council Member Troy Hill. “They are here now, they are not the ones who are going to move here (later). We should vote according to what our citizens want.”
“It’s tough to sit here and say what’s going to happen 10 years from now,” said Place 5 Council Member Jeff Seiler said. “It could happen tomorrow. If we wait until everything south of San Gabriel (Parkway) is gone, will we be able to get a neighborhood that looks like this?”
The land where Chapman Parks sits was involuntarily annexed by the city in 2016. It is currently undeveloped and is surrounded on three sides by open land.
Seiler said Leander has a comprehensive plan that it updates every five years to try to keep up with rapid growth in the area.
“We have to have some guiding principals behind how we think we are going to set up the city,” Seiler said.
Mayor Chris Fielder said a consultant hired by the city found that the property tax revenues generated by Chapman Parks over 30 years would cover the city’s costs of providing services to the new subdivision twice over. Fielder said the study should answer any council concerns about extending city services into undeveloped areas.
After a motion to deny the rezoning request by Hill failed, Fielder moved to approve the request. Seiler included some conditions for the developer in the mayor’s motion.
The council requested:
A reduction in the total number of homes from 1,500 to 1,200;
Larger lot sizes for areas adjoining neighboring Greatwood and Mesa Vista subdivisions;
Less density of smaller-sized “cottage” homes from 10 homes to eight homes per acre;
Limit the smallest of three types of single family lots to be at least 41 feet; and
The developer pay for the portion of Lakeline Boulevard extending through the project to be four lanes wide
Fielder, Place 1 Council Member Andrea Navarrette, and Place 4 Council Member Ron Abruzzese joined Seiler with “yes” votes on the zoning change. Hill, Place 3 Council Member Shanan Sheperd and Place 2 Council Member Michelle Stephenson voted against the motion.
Jim Knight, developer representative with Stantec Central U.S., said the council’s alterations to the motion approving the Chapman Parks rezoning request were workable. Knight said concerns that the development was ill-suited for the secluded site were unfounded.
“We are asking for the same thing that our neighbors have at Devine Lake, but we want to build it to a higher standard,” Knight said, referring to a subdivision planned north of the Northcreek subdivision and west of Bagdad Road.
The city has Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning to allow for multiple types of uses in residential areas without requiring additional rezoning requests.
Financing public amenities
PIDs are used statewide by developers to fund amenities that are attractive to home buyers. State law provides that a PID has to be requested by petition from landowners
The entities are run by the developers who often outsource the administration to vendors. All the costs of running the PID are paid by the developer or from proceeds of bonds issued to pay for the development. Annual assessments of homeowners are collected by the tax appraisal district.
The Leander City Council will have an advisory board to oversee the Chapman Parks PID if the development is built. The city will not carry any liability for the debt for the improvements paid out of assessments.
Developers agree to inform homebuyers of the obligation to pay the PID assessments with notices at points of sale or with separate web sites that can also help them keep track of their assessment bills.