Over the past few years the growth in apartment housing has become a hot topic in Mansfield. Several years ago some city council members campaigned on the idea of "no new apartment zoning." Then very attractive projects came along that would increase the tax base and provide more opportunities for Mansfield residents so they would vote to approve projects that had a mixed use or a "high end" feel.
Over the past decade, our existing city council members have approved more apartment zoning requests than in the entire history of Mansfield.
With the growth in Mansfield it's important you know my view on apartments and their future in Mansfield.
As a city council member I can say that I will not approve an apartment only zoning change request.
There is an important distinction to make with that statement. If an apartment developer comes to city council desiring a zoning change from residential or commercial in hopes of building only an apartment complex for general use on that land, I will vote NO.
However this doesn't mean I am opposed to apartments. What I'm opposed to is lining Highway 360 with dozens of apartment complexes like what's happened in the southern part of Grand Prairie. I'm opposed to generic apartment complexes that don't provide value to the community. I'm opposed to apartment complexes that don't take into consideration the capacity of neighboring schools. I'm opposed to apartment complexes being built along existing residential property lines. I'm opposed to apartment complexes being built in areas where road infrastructure can't support the increased population density.
But there are some instances where I would absolutely vote to approve an apartment complex in Mansfield as part of an overall project.
Here are some examples:
- A project recently proposed at Lone Star and 287 included approximately 300 one and two bedroom apartments. As part of that development they would also build 60-70 single family detached town homes in the 1,500-2,000 sq. ft. range providing housing options at a lower price point than traditional new construction in Mansfield. As part of that development they were bringing in 3 different sit-down restaurants. As part of that development they were bringing in a family entertainment venue, possibly a bowling alley. As part of that development they were bringing in a much needed grocery store to the south west side of town. As part of that development they were going to build professional office space in the lower level of one of the apartment buildings. As part of that development they were going to build a community gathering area with a splash pad. The location of this development was in an undeveloped part of town with it's immediate neighbors being boat and RV storage as well as an industrial manufacturer of modular buildings. The elementary school attendance zone only had 300 students enrolled last year and is built for 800 students. The property is over a mile away from existing residential housing. This type of project is a huge WIN for Mansfield. I absolutely would have voted to approve this project. In fact, I worked with the developer of this project before he presented it to the city council to make changes that would be more favorable for Mansfield.
- Bethlehem Baptist is building a facility called Pioneer Place on the west side of Mansfield. This will be an income adjusted apartment housing project for senior citizens over age 55. It provides on site healthcare, social work, recreation, and food services. It's not a retirement home or assisted living facility. It's a lock and leave community for senior citizens that need affordable housing options and can't afford the traditional $2,000/month+ for retirement facilities. It is located on West Broad St. to the west of Historic Downtown and doesn't have any neighboring residential properties nearby. It only has 135 units. It doesn't have an impact on local school populations as it is an age 55+ community. And it's a huge value add to the senior citizen community. I would have been in great support of this project as a council member.
There will be times in the future that apartments will be needed and approved in Mansfield. Lock and leave communities and lifestyles are on the rise. That lifestyle can be great for young families starting out and for retiring citizens looking to downsize. New teachers, police officers, and fire fighters typically can't afford traditional Mansfield housing and having rental options available for them where they work is important. I can't emphatically say, "NO MORE APARTMENTS" and it would be unwise to make that a key part of my platform. Apartment living is not evil or bad. We just need to balance apartment growth with more single family housing growth.
What I can say is this:
- Apartment complexes not attached to a greater overall project that includes single family homes, retail, community space, restaurants, entertainment venues, and office space - I won't consider them.
- Apartment complexes proposed along existing residential property lines - I won't consider them.
- Apartment complexes proposed in heavily congested traffic areas - I won't consider them.
- Apartment complexes proposed in crowded school attendance zones - I won't consider them.
- Apartment complexes proposing to build 400+ units, with many 3 bedroom units - I won't consider them.
- Apartment complexes proposing to build within close proximity to other existing apartment complexes - I won't consider them.