Editor's note: This article has been updated throughout.
The Denison Planning and Zoning Commission denied a request Tuesday by Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille for the rezoning of 0.391 acres of the recently conveyed property at the corner of Crawford Street and U.S. Highway 75, noting it does not look like the 66,000-square-foot Schulman’s entertainment complex is moving forward in Denison.
No representative from Schulman’s was present at the meeting to explain the request to rezone from native greenbelt to a commercial district. Five local residents spoke in opposition to the rezoning, citing a need for a greenbelt buffer between the commercial and residential properties in the area.
“I am against that entertainment center,” Denison resident Dale Phillips said, noting he hopes his opposition to the rezoning will make things difficult for the development and ultimately stop the project, “I believe there is going to be light pollution, noise pollution and a greater amount of trash. It’s going to be in our yards. I know it’s just that a 150-foot area but it’s going to make it easier for those people to build their facility. I don’t know all of the rules but I’m trying to prevent them as much easiness as possible by asking you to please not approve the use of the greenbelt.”
The commission’s denial follows the Denison City Council’s conveyance of the 0.391-acre tract to Schulman’s at last week’s council meeting and the matter will next go to the council to consider the commission’s recommendation at its Nov. 6 meeting.
The Sherman City Council approved an economic development program agreement last week with 58 Aggie Development LLC, which includes Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille owner Mark Schulman as management, for a commercial and retail center development on the southeast corner of the intersection of U.S. Highway 75 and FM 1417.
Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille representative Lauren Thorne said last week that the company would be making an announcement outlining its plans for the Sherman and Denison developments soon. Sherman city officials said an announcement is scheduled for Thursday at 1 p.m. in the Sherman Municipal Ballroom but did not elaborate on what the announcement would cover.
The agreement approved by the Sherman council will provide a cash grant of 50 percent of the sales tax generated by the planned commercial and retail center development to 58 Aggie Development over a seven-year period. The agreement puts a $1.5 million cap on the cash grant, and the agreement expires once the seven-year period ends.
Citing a nondisclosure agreement, city staff said last week they could not comment specifically about a Schulman’s development in Sherman, but Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said the city reached out to the developer behind 58 Aggie Development after Schulman’s announced its plans for its Denison location.
“We’ve reached out to several similar companies over the course of the last year,” Strauch said last week, via text message, of when Sherman contacted the developer behind 58 Aggie Development. “But this particular developer was not on our radar until after the announcement of their Denison project.”
Denison P&Z commission member Matthew Looney reassured residents Thursday that the 0.391 acres of greenbelt would return to the city’s possession if the development does not go forward.
“The one piece that is indicated on the map here would revert back to Denison should the development not proceed,” Looney said. “And at this point, it looks like it’s not proceeding.”
Denison P&Z commission member Brett Evans said he was not persuaded by the applicant due to their absence from the meeting.
“That gives me even more reservation of doing something that’s going to stick with the property for a development that is at best iffy right now,” Evans said. “I don’t want to make it easier for the next person that’s going to come along three years down the road. At some point, this property is going to be developed and it’s going to be probably sooner than later. But there’s ways that help protect the neighborhood back there as much as possible.”
Denison resident Cindy Huth told the commission she believes a second entertainment center will be harmful to the success of the HeyDay Entertainment center development planned within Gateway Village, near the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 75 and FM 691.
“Everybody has a legacy and I really feel like the current city administration and city council seem to want to be remembered as the ones who brought progressive development to every linear foot of Highway 75 frontage,” Huth said. “I’d rather be remembered as somebody who preserved the natural beauty and helped maintain the characteristics of my neighborhood. If I wanted to live in a Plano-like environment, I would have moved to Plano.”
Sara Jerome of Kusch Land and Realty helped broker the deal for Schulman’s Denison site and said the company’s Denison development is moving forward, but will not be doing so immediately. She deferred followup questions to Schulman, who did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.
Sherman city staff said the commercial and retail center development planned at FM 1417 and Hwy. 75 is expected to bring around $25 million in capital investments to the location and generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual sales tax revenue for Sherman.
Herald Democrat reporter Michael Hutchins contributed to this article.