THE ISSUE - If you are unfamiliar, see a summary of the issue below or see the attached letter sent in early 2015. Here is the Land Use Plan as adopted. As discussed below, it encourages and will allow the addition of high density residential almost anywhere that there is not currently a house. Although the Plan uses words like "generally not appropriate" in certain designations, it is clear that these weasel words will actually be used to allow high density residential throughout the city. This is discussed further below.
APPEALS COURT HEARING NOVEMBER 8th UPDATE
On November 8, 2016, a hearing was held on the City's appeal of its loss in district court on its claims of immunity and that judicial review does not apply to it. We were encouraged by the hearing. Very little time was spent on the city’s arguments regarding immunity and jurisdiction. Instead, the Appeals Court justices focused their attention on the City’s claim that citizens cannot vote on the comprehensive plan. We take this as an indication the court did give much weight to the city’s arguments regarding immunity and jurisdiction. We believe there is a strong possibility the Court will rule on the merits of our case instead of just denying the city’s appeal and then sending our case back to district court to be heard. Each justice held his/her opinions close to the vest and peppered both sides with tough questions. We are cautiously optimistic about the outcome.
That said, it may still be some time before a ruling is made. Because it is a three-judge panel, they will spend additional time reviewing and discussing the parties' submissions and reflecting on the hearing before writing an opinion. This process can take months. Even though we would like a ruling as soon as possible, we understand we will have to wait until their opinion is issued.
Regardless, it was clear that the city and its two high powered outside law firms were having to stretch hard to make their case and the appeals court believes there are substantive questions and concerns about the city’s position. This is far from the slam dunk “it's impossible for citizens to vote” position the city portrayed to its citizens.
With the state and national elections over, it is time to begin ramping up for the Municipal elections to be held next May. It is apparent that real change will only come with a turnover in City Council. We are working on vetting candidates and are interested in any contact you have with potential candidates.
UPDATE of OUR RESPONSE to the CITY's FAQ.
The City has an FAQ posted on its website that attempts to refute a number of our statements and concerns about the Plano Tomorrow Plan. When it was issued, we immediately issued a statement pointing out that the City's lengthy FAQ was full of misrepresentations and misstatements. We have an updated point by point response that takes into account recent City actions and developments. The complete response may be found here and there is an accompanying discussion describing how we arrived at the estimated 40,000 apartments that could be added under the Plan. And here is the map of apartments added or approved since January 1, 2014.
"This appeal was filed by Appellants solely to delay a public vote on the Ordinance. Appellees’ claims for mandamus and declaratory relief fit squarely within settled exceptions to governmental immunity. Appellants’ arguments regarding the merits of the claims are also without merit. Appellees request that the Court expeditiously affirm the Trial Court’s denial of Appellants’ plea to the jurisdiction so that the democratic process may proceed.
"With respect to the first issue, Appellants have not identified any jurisdictional defect regarding Appellees’ claims for mandamus relief. Government officials have no immunity from suits seeking to compel compliance with a ministerial duty. The City Secretary and members of the City Council have failed to comply with the ministerial duties in the Charter, and Appellees have sought writs of mandamus to compel compliance with the Charter. Accordingly, the Trial Court has jurisdiction over Appellees’ claims."Recognizing the frivolous nature of its jurisdictional argument, the bulk of Appellants’ brief addresses an issue irrelevant to the jurisdictional question on appeal—namely, whether Appellants will prevail on the merits of their affirmative defense to Appellees’ claims. In short, Appellants argue that a comprehensive plan is akin to zoning and, therefore, a referendum should not be permitted. However, the Supreme Court of Texas has made clear that only the Legislature (or charter amendment) can limit the public’s right to a referendum, and the Texas statutes governing comprehensive plans expressly preserve charter rights. Accordingly, to the extent the Court desire to opine on the merits of the case, Appellees prevail on those issues...."
excerpts:"By nearly a 2-1 margin, record voter turnout in May’s local election has retired three incumbents on the Colleyville City Council…despite hundreds of residents repeatedly attending council meetings in late 2015 to voice concern over high-density zoning designations, the council passed their new 190-page comprehensive plan five years ahead of schedule, in a 5-2 vote. Citizens were so upset they booed the council and promised change at the ballot box."
Plano's next election is May 2017 and we need to be prepared to act. It is time to start mobilizing. Email us if you are willing to get involved or know potential candidates.
Do we live in Caracas?
The City of Plano filed a general denial of the legal action to compel the city to count the citizen petitions to require a referendum on the Plano Tomorrow Plan. A copy of the filing can be found here. A general denial is a standard response, which merely requires that we prove our case. The biggest take-away from the filing is what it does NOT say. The city offered no support for its position.
The plaintiffs will continue to move forward to compel the city to withdraw the Plan or allow the citizens to vote on the Plan. We will update you as this moves forward.FEBRUARY 2, 2016 LAWSUIT FILED!!
We believe the city’s position regarding the inability to have a petition is based on twisted logic and is not supported by law and, if necessary, the citizens will prevail in court.
Instead of wasting time and tax dollars fighting their own citizens, the city council should be working with the citizens to listen to their concerns and amend the plan. The people of Plano have spoken loud and clear on this issue, beginning with the city's survey in the fall of 2013, the library meetings in November of 2014, continuing through the public hearings and forum in the first half 2015, in over 1,000 messages and letters and at the planning and zoning and city council meetings in September and October of 2015. The reactions of the Mayor LaRosiliere, City Manager Bruce Glasscock and the City Council have been to just ignore the citizens and pass the Plan anyhow. The reaction of the citizens has been one of increasing frustration and growing recognition that the city council is not interested in the people they were elected to represent.
Over four thousand voters signed this petition in a grass roots effort in two weeks time and they did this in spite of city threats and messaging that it would all be a wasted effort. It is time for the city council to listen. If council members are not interested in listening, they should step down and let others lead that are interested in following what the people they represent have to say.
Message to Plano Homeowners -
Like our facebook page /smartplanofuture to help spread the word and get status updates.
City Council VOTE (October 12)
Thank you to 1,000+ that sent messages to the city, the 320+ who showed up for our cause at Monday's (Oct 12) City Council meeting, and especially the 85 of you who signed up to speak. Your comments were outstanding. They can be viewed plano.gov/planotv or this link (Item 3, parts 1,2,and 3). We were disappointed by the vote on the Plano Tomorrow Plan and we have heard your frustration loud and clear. Mayor LaRosiliere pushed hard for the vote. In spite of the City and Chamber of Commerce blasting out thousands of emails they had very few common citizens to speak in favor of this. Of the few who showed up in support, most were part of the city power structure - the developers, and former mayors who said trust our leaders and support the Plan but it was apparent that they had never read the Plan.
Since November 2014 we have asked the City to state how many apartments could be added under then Plan in each of the desginated areas like "Compact Complete Centers," "Regional Centers," "Transit Corridors," etc. They have steadfastly declined to do so. How can you call it a plan if you can't tell us what it means to future development? We also asked them to cap the number of apartments that could be added.
See the attached document that estimates the number of apartments that could be added under the plan and backs up our number of 40,000. Just like the plan, which is intended to be the long term outlook, this is the estimated number that could be added over the term of the Plan.
Other misinformation being spread by the city. The city says it has had contact with 4,000 residents about the plan. The City does not tell you that the overwhelming majority objected to the land use plan.
The city has over 31,000 apartments currently in operation and thousands more approved and on the way. To make it look like less, beginning in 2015, the city changed the reporting in its Annual Housing Study to call 5,000 of those apartments “urban units” – as if that is something different than apartments. Is that intended to mislead the citizens?
We have provided a map of and listing of the 10,000 apartments added / approved since January 1, 2014 since the city keeps trying to say it is only 5,000 to 6,000. (see below).
For years, the City told Plano citizens that the population would max out at 270,000, which is its population today. Beginning in 2014, the city began to increase this number. The City Manager has repeatedly stated in 2015 that city will grow gradually over the 20 years to 295,000 – but they have already approved enough new housing to reach 295,000 in the next few years without all the additional “urban units” and dense mid-rise apartments in the Plano Tomorrow Plan.
Today in its refutation, is the first day the city has ever used 300,000 for a future population (and statements make it clear they were no longer talking about in 20 years). How much will it be tomorrow?
Send this letter / email to City Council, September 2015
Here is a Word Version to copy and paste into your email or a PDF version to print and scan and mail - email to planning and zoning. Note: you can print it out, sign it and take a picture with your phone and email the picture to P&Z. See the Send a Letter link for text you can cut and paste directly into an email. The addresses of where to send the email are:
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Chrisd@plano.gov; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Click HERE for full size of this map
Article in September 18 Dallas Morning News, page 29P.
See the article with this link.
And See the Plano Star Courier Article here.
Our Goal for Plano’s Future
Our goal is to encourage P&Z commissioners to amend the city staff's plan so there is less emphasis on high density residential development and more priority given to preserving the suburban character of Plano's neighborhoods and schools. We believe the Plan could result in Plano adding 30,000 to 40,000 apartments to Plano as it is implemented.
The Plano Tomorrow Plan is an important document and it will be used as a guideline for future zoning and redevelopment. Please explore the information on this page and come back for new items as the date of the P&Z public hearing comes closer. Your opinion matters.
Here is an open letter to Planning and Zoning discussing the impact of urban development on our neighborhoods and schools and the urgent need to for the Plano Tomorrow Plan to address these issues.
NEW - August 10th - Letter to P&Z - Comments on the Plano Tomorrow Plan
See our letter on Amendments we would like to see to the Plano Tomorrow Plan, including a mark-up of the documents
NEW – June 29th Meeting
See our presentation of June 29, 2015 to the Planning & Zoning Commission and comments on the revisions to the Plano Tomorrow Plan.
Talking Points to accompany Slide presentation
Link to Video on PlanoTV. See Item 2 on the Agenda for the presentation
See the map of apartments added / approved since January 1, 2014.Current Plan Documents
History and Important Events
Thank you to those that attended the June 15th and June 29th Planning and Zoning meetings.at the June 15th meeting the City Staff presented their revisions to the Plano Tomorrow Plan. At the June 29th meeting the citizens of PlanoFuture presented their views on the Revised Plan. We actually have much more to say but knew our time would be limited so kept our comments to about 15 minutes. See links to our comments at the top of this page.May 2015
On May 21, 2015 there was a public meeting to discuss the Plano Tomorrow Plan and citizens were allowed to discuss their thoughts on various aspect of the Plan. Approximately 100 citizens participated from across the City. Thanks to all for attending and your valuable input. We were divided into four groups of North, South, East and West to discuss the Plan and how it affects each area of the city. The Citizens overwhelmingly expressed concerns about the proliferation of dense housing being added to the city and the Tomorrow Plan's apparent tilt to accelerate this trend increase dense housing in areas not currently zoned for this type of development. Here is the City Staff's summary of the meeting Results
See the new discussion on the deteriorating performance and potential Impact on Plano Schools from dense housing contemplated by the Plano Tomorrow Plan. Please don't cry.
Thank you to those that attended the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on the Plano Tomorrow Plan on Monday March 2, 2015. Many residents attended the meeting and over 25 signed up to speak and express their views. Approximately 450 sent a letter to P&Z expressing their concerns. See the letters here. As a result of these efforts, the vote on the Plan was tabled. The P&Z will hold a work session on March 30 to discuss the concerns of residents. As a result of these letter and comments, a forum for the public was held on May 21, 2015.
The March 2 meeting can viewed on line at Plano.gov / PlanoTV
See the article in the Plano Star Courier hereSee the article in the Dallas Morning News here
Plano Tomorrow Plan and the Issue
The City of Plano has released a draft of the Plano Tomorrow Plan that it is considering adopting.
The draft of the Plano Tomorrow Plan seeks to Urbanize and grow the population of Plano by 50,000 to 80,000 by inserting dense mid-rise residential apartments and urban mixed use developments throughout the city. P& Z and City Council already started down this path approving the addition of 10,000 multi-family units from the 31,000 units Plano had at January 1, 2014, a 30% increase in the city’s multi-family housing units. Yet, the respondents to the Plano Tomorrow Survey discussed below said midrise and urban mixed use apartments were the LEAST desirable use of the City’s remaining available land. We are asking Plano Residents to send a letter or email with comments and concerns to P&Z.
Our city leaders appear to think that building more apartments is economic development. We do not agree. The citizens of Plano are all for job creation in the form of corporate and general office space, medical facilities, restaurants, recreational and entertainment facilities but building development upon development of dense apartment buildings is not economic development and is not wanted. We only have a limited amount of land left in Plano and it should be reserved for true economic development.
In the fall of 2013, the City of Plano conducted the "Plano Tomorrow Survey" of households in Plano asking questions about the city and quality of life. Households were sent a flyer in their water bill asking them to log in online and fill out the survey and emails were also sent to select groups such as city officials and employees and real estate developers. There were 1100 responses from Plano residents. The Planning & Zoning Commission, City Staff and City Council are using the results of this survey to justify some major changes in zoning, including changes to promote the "Urbanization" (high density development) of the city. This appears to be a complete distortion of the survey results to twist the results in a way to support high density apartment developments in Plano. Posted here are four documents a) the Survey, b) the Survey Results, c) Results Appendix tabulating responses, d) Planning & Zoning's Conclusions and Proposed Rezoning in response to the survey and e) a Proposed Policies statement. There are also two use maps that were released (Land and Growth). In response to our comments a few small wording changes were made that were discussed at the January 20th P&Z meeting, see the marked changes here. While the words are better, we are not confident they represent any change in intent.
As an example of midrise apartment buildings, the city approved a single midrise complex in October 2014 at 121 and the Tollway with 1,000 apartments on a 10 acre tract. It is our understanding that the intent of the Plano Tomorrow Plan is to lay the groundwork to increase the city's population by 50,000 to 80,000, mostly through apartment developments.
In advance of completing the Plan, P&Z approved 7,500 multi-family units in 2014 alone. This will likely increase the population by 13,000 people. Including the 2,009 apartments approved before 2014 but not yet built and the 1,041 new apartments approved in January 2015, this is over 10,000 new apartments in Plano. When combined with the approximately 4,000 townhomes, patio homes and single family homes that are approved for development, the population of Plano will likely increase by an estimated 31,000 new residents. This would increase the population of Plano to 296,000. This is only the beginning as the Plano Tomorrow Plan will greatly increase the population beyond the 296,000 already approved, primarily by adding great numbers of multi-family units.
Survey Results Link
In the survey, Plano residents clearly responded that Plano's available land should be used to develop employment opportunities, with general office employment scoring highest. Residential scored last in desired use of remaining available land (which is less than 7% of all land), meaning the citizens of Plano do not see population growth as an imperative. The survey clearly shows on page 17 that respondents rated single family detached homes the most desirable for Plano development while high density apartments in urban centers and mid-rise condominiums were rated the LEAST Desirable. Somehow this has been twisted into P&Z and City Council saying we need more urbanization in Plano and need to put mid-rise condominiums and high density apartments in urban mixed use developments on available land!! The Planning and Zoning conclusions at the September 29, 2014 P&Z Work Session, page 18 stated that available land in West Plano should be "Urban Center, Neighborhood Center, Midrise Employment Center, Midrise Residential Condominium, Patio Home/Townhome." (Midrise in city parlance is anything five to 20 stories while Urban Centers include high density apartments in Urban Mixed Use). The Plan also identifies most available land in the city as falling in "Expressway Corridors," "Rail Corridors" or "Compact Centers" which should be developed or redeveloped for High Intensity use, including dense mid-rise and Urban Mixed Use apartments. Finally, the Plan recommends that underperforming retail space throughout the city be re-developed into mixed uses, primarily by adding multi-family housing to these retail centers.
We believe that the Plan has way too much emphasis on dense multi-family housing that will be dominated by apartments. We believe the emphasis in new development and for redevelopment should be on commercial uses -primarily offices and services with appropriate level of retail and entertainment. Where housing is allowed, there should be a much greater focus on owner-occupied housing that is less dense such as single family detached, patio and attached townhomes.
In November 2014, the City's conclusions and Vision for Plano Tomorrow were exposed at four public "Open House" meetings. In January 2015 the P&Z will hold final meetings to discuss public input before adoption. Consider providing your comments to City Manager Bruce Glasscock, your city council members or Christina Day of Plano P&Z. Now is the time to send your comments to the P&Z.
See the "" tab for contact instructions.
The Open House dates and places were:
Several of our Plano citizens attended and voiced their concerns. However, there was no formal process to gather people's comments at the library meetings other than sticky note, so we must send our comments in writing. We are aware of over 300 that sent in comments. See the attached Extended Discussion if you would like to read a more thorough analysis and objections to the Plano Tomorrow Plan.
Send us your comments
Email us with the subject "Please post this comment" and will we add your comment to the Web site (no profanity, threats or over the top language please). We want your voice heard and the neighborhood to hear opinions. Please sign with your first name, last name or full name and the street or neighborhood you live in.
Send the email to: email@example.com to P&Z expressing your concerns about the Plano Tomorrow Plan.
www.Planofuture.org The Plano Future Organiztion is comprised of concerned citizens of Plano, dedicated to ensuring the quality of life in our our city. This includes upholding the reputation of our fine schools, the qualilty and safety of our neighborhoods, ensuring a strong employment base and seeing that the city represents the goodwill of its citizens.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org