The Denison City Council unanimously approved the conveyance of less than half an acre of city-owned land to the developers on of the proposed Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille location in Denison Monday night. The piece of land is a portion of a greenbelt that runs along Crawford Street between Ansley Lane and U.S. Hwy. 75.
City officials said the conveyance would help ease some concerns with development along the northwest corner of the intersection of Hwy. 75 and Crawford. However, residents in attendance Monday voiced their opposition to both the conveyance and the development in the area.
“I think the city’s opinion is that the development of this complex is hindered by the city’s ownership of this land,” City Manager Jud Rex said before the meeting
Officials with Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grill announced plans to open a 66,000-square-foot entertainment complex at the site in mid-September. The location will feature bowling, an eight-screen movie theater and other amenities, officials said at the time.
Rex said the 150-foot by 113-foot stretch piece of land along Crawford Street was conveyed to the city more than a decade ago by the current owners of the main property that will be the location for the Schulman’s development, Rex said, adding that the property is currently under contract with Schulman.
The land was conveyed to the city when developers initially rezoned the property for commercial development to act as a greenbelt between any future development and neighboring properties, including those along Ansley. However, Rex said a portion of this greenbelt needs to be developed to offer increased access to the Schulman property.
City Council Member Kris Spiegel also said by incorporating additional land into the project, it can increase visibility for traffic entering and exiting the development.
“To develop commercial at this corner, it really makes sense to give this land to the developer,” Rex said during Monday’s meeting.
However, homeowners along the Ansley voiced concerns that this conveyance represents encroachment by development in their neighborhood.
Resident Mike Broyles said when development along U.S. 75 started about 25 years ago, the greenbelt represented a promise to not encroach into residential neighborhoods, including those along Ansley. It was this gesture, and promises by the city, that convinced Broyles and others to settle in the neighborhood, he said.
“With most of us, our biggest investments are our own homes,” he said. “Please do not chip away at that promise. There are some things that need to hold fast, and I think this 25-year-old promise should hold.”
Cindy Huth noted that the development of a major commercial property at the site would significantly increase traffic on the one entrance into the neighborhood. By adding the city-owned property to the development, she said it would force traffic closer to the entrance of the residential neighborhoods.
“I feel like if the greenbelt is as small as they say, then it might not really be that needed,” she said.
Other concerns raised during the meeting included worries that the development could negatively impact drainage into a nearby creek. Rex said these concerns and water management issues will be addressed during the site planning phase of development. Any runoff issues must be addressed by the developer, Rex said.
Denison Mayor Jared Johnson said as the city continues to grow, development along this portion of Denison is inevitable. However, by offering additional land for access and visibility, the city can offer some guidance into development and ensure that the area remains safe.
“Crawford Street west is going to need to be widened all the way to 131 eventually,” Johnson said. “That is the natural growth pattern of the city.”
The item was previously discussed by the Denison council in late September in a closed, executive session. Following the session, the council voted to authorize Rex to move forward with plans discussed in executive session, but gave no details on the arrangement or what project was involved. At the time, Rex said the action was intended to give assurance to the developer that he was acting on behalf of the city council.
Rex confirmed Monday that the discussions were related to the Schulman project. At the time of the meeting last month, the city was still conducting surveys and in negotiations regarding the conveyance and wasn’t ready to move forward.