The Mesquite City Council opened up discussion to the public on the topic of Spradley Farms during Monday night’s City Council meeting before taking a vote on a resolution repealing Resolution No. 68-2019 and adopting a resolution opposing creation of the Spradley Farms Improvement District of Kaufman County through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
The approximately 621 acres of land near Interstate 20 in Kaufman County is within the corporate limits of the city of Mesquite.
Prior to Monday night’s meeting, on Jan. 5, Mayor Bruce Archer posted on Facebook regarding this development.
“Recently prior to the new City Council taking office, the previous council voted on a controversial development in south Mesquite called Spradley Farms. The development itself appears to be a nice development, but the financing mechanism proposed by the developer is not financially healthy for the taxpayers of Mesquite,” he wrote. “The council vote was taken right before the election and was approved by heated 4-3 vote, and there were many unhappy citizens who expressed their anger afterwards that this happened. Tomorrow evening, your City Council will be voting on whether or not to continue this financing mechanism.”
In the post Archer stated that the Spradley Farms development requires the developer to be paid approximately $53 million over the next 35 years for the interest they will pay a bank for their development loan.
“In our previous agreements on developments we have not agreed to pay the developer's private development loan interest,” he wrote. “This $53 million will result in the reimbursement to the developers being so high that Mesquite will have to either raise taxes or reduce services like police protection and road repairs to existing parts of Mesquite every year for the next 35 years.
"Prior to the previous council vote, myself and other council members urged the developer to look at other forms of financing that would not require such a burden from Mesquite and still allow them to do their development, but they have insisted that what they call a Municipal Management District is the only way for them, and there is no compromise.
"While bringing in higher end housing is a great value to Mesquite, there are also challenges in the south Mesquite area currently with old roads that desperately need to be repaired, school traffic concerns, and other infrastructure needs. If we are going to develop new homes, it needs to be (a) financing model that will help pay for all these needs and other needs in older parts of Mesquite long term, not add more financial burden to our already struggling city budget…”
John Jordan, senior project manager The Nehemiah Company, spoke during Monday night’s meeting. He stated that their projections are showing that this project will bring close to $900 million worth of taxable value to the city.
“During the life of the TIRZ this project will bring in about $66 million to the city that is usable in our section of the city and others,” Jordan said. “The reason The Nehemiah Company prefer to do public/private partnerships is because a city only gets one chance to build a community. To build a neighborhood you get one chance, and once those roads are in and once those homes are in it’s very difficult to change it.”
“If we can get multiple taxing entities to come together and pull their resources, along with us, the developer’s resource, then we can build a very high-level quality that includes long-life roads, public parks and public trails, things that will enhance the value of our community to the entire community,” he added.
Jordan urged the council not to vote on this item at this time because it would be a breach of contract.
Residents had mixed responses – some were in favor of the Spradley Farms development continuing on as previously agreed, and some supported the development but not the financing mechanism.
The council approved 6-1 a resolution repealing Resolution No. 68-2019 and adopting a resolution opposing creation of the Spradley Farms Improvement District of Kaufman County through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.