At 7:30 p.m. today the Richardson City Council will hold a public hearing on the development plans for the old Continental Inn site located between James Drive, Floyd Road, and Central Expressway.
The site’s developer is appealing a ruling by the City Plan Commission. That ruling denied a zoning request that would have allowed the project to be outside the scope of the West Spring Valley (WSV) Corridor regulations.
There have been changes, both to the site plan, and in their request. It’s no longer for a zoning change, but for a major modification, which is within the Council’s scope to grant or deny within the existing zoning. In other words, the project could go forward, leaving the existing zoning intact.
The zoning was developed by a collaborative, community-wide approach to lay down a blueprint for redeveloping the southern edge of Richardson from Dumont Drive, south along Central, and east along Spring Valley to Coit Road.
There are five sites in that corridor that could be considered as possible catalysts for further redevelopment; the old Continental Inn site being perhaps the most well known.
I hope you can come out and make your voices heard. Whether you support the development plan, oppose it, or you’re unsure, this is the time to let the city hear your opinion. If you can’t make the meeting, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. One or two paragraphs are sufficient. You can also send them to the Mayor and City Council (email addresses).
Whatever you think about the project, I believe we all have a common goal to grow reinvestment in Richardson and improve the quality of life for its residents.
The City Council has a difficult decision before them tonight. On the one hand, reinvestment is needed for the area and there is a strong opinion that any development is better than no development.
There are equally strong opinions that if we as a city disregard our blueprint for WSV then we are essentially committing the reinvestment strategy to the dustbin. They ask, why did we bother with all the thousands of hours of work and taxpayer expense in developing it in the first place?
For myself, I cannot support any catalyst development plan that isn’t in the scope of the West Spring Valley strategy. I also cannot condemn a project, though it started off outside the blueprint of the WSV strategy, which has undergone substantial changes in the past month.
The developer’s revised site plan has gone from a row of four restaurants on a big parking lot, to a reconfiguration that includes a pavilion between three of the restaurants and the possibility for mixed use in one building. An expanded green space is also new to the revisions.
There are a number of other revisions to the original plan. These are included thanks in part to the developer’s willingness to listen to community feedback.
I think the Council now has the task to answer the question: does this project fit within the scope of the WSV plan?
I personally expect the Council, if they do decide to approve the revised site development plan, to ensure that the improvements are codified. If they do not approve the plan, the Council must come back with a strategy to get this or another development project on track as quickly as possible.
I believe the Council’s responsibility, along with this community’s, doesn’t end with tonight’s vote. We must continue to work for improvements to any development plan, not just for this catalyst project, but for any in our city.