Lake Dallas will soon see a few new facilities near downtown.
The council voted 3-2 Thursday to approve the rezoning of two lots that will permit a business park and mini storage area to go at 222 Betchan Drive, which sits just behind City Hall near Alamo Avenue. Last month the council approved the plans for lot one where an event facility will be built.
In a letter to the chairman of the Lake Dallas Planning and Zoning Commission Ben Gilbert, property project developer and co-owner Marykay Smith explained her wish to develop the nearly 11-acre property into a planned development that would also include an event center called The Mill. Smith said The Mill “will draw people to Lake Dallas through weddings, receptions, fundraising events, graduation parties, celebrations and business meetings.”
In the letter she describes the demand for an event type of center in the area and the high demand for a particular venue that would be available for big events. She said the facility would help the local economy as there would be a need for restaurants to cater, flower shops, bakeries, hotels and other necessities for such events.
While the council approved the event facility last month, the business park and storage facility were met with headaches and frustration on the council. Some members disagreed with adding yet another storage facility in the area, with council member April Estrada saying the city needs a vision for the future and if the council keeps voting for the same businesses, that’s all it will be.
“We’ve got to turn the town around at some point, and if we continue to go and approve mini warehouses and storage facilities, that’s what our town is always going to be,” Estrada said. “And a lot of people complain that this town has looked the same for years. There’s a reason for that.”
The council discussed how the city needs a master plan in place, which is a set of guidelines many cities set out as a road map that helps guide city planners on what a city wants to look like in years in the future. The city currently doesn’t have a set plan.
Both Smith and her husband John could be seen frustrated as they have been eager about the project since Smith applied for it in August. Council member Julie Mathews said she met with the Smiths to discuss a middle ground that would both please the Smiths and the council. Mathews said one of the compromises included an 8-foot wall that would surround the storage facility as well as a natural screen or wall, such as trees or bushes, be placed along the wall.
In the end, council members David Houdek, Andi Nolan and Mathews voted to approve the facilities in total. Smith was not immediately available for comment but said she will talk at a later date about her vision for the property.