In a busy and eventful session, the Denison City Council approved the annexation of 427 acres of land along Highway 691 as a part of developer Tom Johnson’s Gateway Village community.

In a busy and eventful session, the Denison City Council approved the annexation of 427 acres of land along Highway 691 as a part of developer Tom Johnson’s Gateway Village community.


In a unanimous decision, the Council quickly voted to approve the measure, which had its first public hearing back in November. Johnson’s plans for the development include a mixture of medium and high-income housing, and shopping and commercial areas.


"All ingredients are there for a first class development," said City Manager Robert Hanna.


Denison will be using a Tax Investment Reimbursement Zone on the development to reimburse Johnson for infrastructure improvements and additions that are made to the property.


The TIRZ will not include the Cigna, Texoma Medical Center, or other completed developments that have already been completed in the area, said Hanna.


The next step in line for the agreement comes on Jan. 14, when the city is expected to sign a participation agreement on the project with Grayson County, who will be contributing funding for the project from its bridge and road fund, said Hanna. After that, the city will take the agreement to the TIRZ board for approval.


Denison Mayor Jared Johnson voiced his support of the development.


"It allows the city to open up the gateway that will have a long lasting impact on the community," said Johnson.


In other business, the Council discussed a resolution to support a tax credit housing application to build a low-income apartment complex near the east corner of U.S. Highway 75 and Crawford, which faced major public opposition.


LDG Development sought approval for the credit in order to build an apartment complex at the corner of U.S. 75 and Crawford. The developer also oversaw the construction of the Steeplechase Farms Apartments in Sherman.


The tax credit program, which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, would allow investors to invest in the construction of the apartment project in exchange for tax liability credit. The apartment complex would follow the 40/60 rule, where 40 percent of the units in the complex must be leased to individuals who make 60 percent or less of the area median income — $35,441 according to the 2011 Census.


The project is expected to cost over $14 million in funding from investors, and $6 million from loans.


The heated debate saw over 20 individuals from the community step forward to speak in opposition of the proposed agreement. Concerns raised about the project included crime, concerns about the future maintenance of the site and the proposed location next to the highway, and proximity to other promising developments.


"I can’t imagine anything but our property value taking a nosedive," said Ed Harris, who owns property adjacent to the proposed site. " I think our whole neighborhood will be placed in jeopardy by this project."


The sole speaker in support of the project was property owner Lee Olmstead, who said that there was little other opportunity for his land. Olmstead argued that the property’s proximity to nearby schools and a church would prevent potential businesses from selling alcohol, thus detracting from investor interest.


In the end the Council rejected the proposed agreement in a unanimous decision.