It took more than 90 minutes of public comments and discussion among council members for McKinney’s City Council to approve a controversial rezoning request made by Bob Tomes Ford during Tuesday night’s council meeting.
Bob Tomes Automotive Group originally submitted a request to decrease the setback around the collision center from 60 feet to 20 feet to allow for more parking space for new vehicles.
Residents of the nearby North Brook neighborhood gathered 259 signatures in opposition of the request for the rezoning change, citing that allowing Bob Tomes Ford to decrease the setback around his property would compromise the safety of citizens in the area, decrease property values and alter the aesthetics of the neighborhood.
Some of the concerned residents met with Mayor Brian Loughmiller, Mayor Pro Tem Travis Ussery and other city staff on Jan. 9 to discuss their issues with Tomes’ request. As a result of that meeting, a modified request was submitted to the city and council for their consideration.
The modified request includes a variable width landscape buffer that is 36 feet at the northern limit of the parking area and tapers to 20 feet at the southernmost limit along Park View Avenue. The proposal also includes the construction of a 6-foot tall wrought iron fence with masonry columns and living screen with a 5-foot wide meandering sidewalk along Park View Avenue in place of a solid masonry wall.
Residents from the neighboring community brought a compromise of their own to the council meeting, suggesting that the expansion of the parking facility be allowed with a 40 foot setback instead of the requested 36 to 20 feet.
North Brook resident Jessica Mauerhan said the “safety of cars and pedestrians will be compromised by tractor trailers driving through the area. An alternative would be a 40-footbuffer and a masonry wall with irrigation to keep the plants alive.” She also requested that Tomes continue to use North Brook Drive to unload vehicles.
Mary Carol Strother said, “I want to keep the 60 buffer, but support the compromise of a 40-foot buffer.” She pleaded with council to “listen to the hundreds of voices in our neighborhood – one voice (Bob Tomes) vs. hundreds of voices.” Strother also asked council to “stand for your goals of maintaining unique and sustainable neighborhoods.”
Council member Geralyn Kever (Dist. 2) thanked citizens for attending the meeting to express their thoughts and said that she liked the idea of the applicant putting in a living screen and the meandering sidewalk.
Councilman Randy Pogue (At Large) said, “The soft side of the live screening will be better than you see out there today.”
“I’ve tried to come into this with an open mind,” Loughmiller said.
The Mayor also said he was in favor of the living screen concept and not loading cars onto tractor trailer trucks on the street, but felt that there could be more opportunity for compromise.
In the end, council voted to approve the request by the applicant, with only Loughmiller and Ussery voting against.
Other Council Business
Council voted to approve a request by Nortstar Builders for a meritorious exception for Plano Sports Authority. The exception was requested because the proposed architectural drawings and elevations do not finish at least 50 percent of each wall with an approved masonry finishing material (brick, stone, synthetic stone) and the elevations propose to utilize an un-approved exterior finishing material.
The builder asked for an exception to the proposed elevation to include an accent material (banding). It is a synthetic fiber board that gives the appearance of wood but weathers better than wood, city staff said.
Council also approved a resolution to adopt guidelines and procedures for naming municipal facilities. The Parks, Recreation and Open Space Advisory Board will be allowed to name parks and recreational facilities after living individuals, excluding currently elected official or city or county employees.