Concerned Denison residents filled the City Council’s chambers during a much longer than average regular council meeting Monday night.

Concerned Denison residents filled the City Council’s chambers during a much longer than average regular council meeting Monday night.


Many residents arrived at the meeting to implore the Council not to give the city’s blessing to a proposed apartment complex near the intersection of U.S. Highway 75 and Crawford Street.


Only four residents of the neighborhood nearby the proposed apartment complex addressed the Council with their concerns, but most of the standing room-only crowd left City Hall after the Council decided on this agenda item.


The real estate developer, LDG Development LLC, sent a representative, Justin Hartz, to the meeting to plead the company’s case to the Council.


Hartz said, "This is a proposal we’ve been looking into for the last six months; the proposed project is 150 units. … There is going to be some existing green space we’re dedicating as a dedicated parkland space that will be open to the community, it won’t be just for the tenants."


Hartz explained the proposed layout for the complex, including the exterior appearance of the buildings, the plans for parking and traffic flow, and the price of renting one of the complex’s multiple floor plans.


Hartz said that the cost of rent in the new building would range from $640 to $890 per month.


When prompted by Mayor Jared Johnson to explain how the company planned to finance maintenance of the property in the future, Hartz said, "Per the state, since we use tax credits, they require us to have an operating reserve which is six months of expenses plus your debt service coverage, which is your loan fees.


Let’s say that we have a project from ten years down the road, for example we have some projects right now with $650,000 sitting in a bank account that doesn’t get touched unless we have an emergency for the project or to pave a new road in, paint the exterior of the buildings, we can use that reserve to pay for those maintenance issues."


Denison resident Jeff Hoppert said, "I do not believe that it will be maintained at the rate or with the funds that the gentleman speaks of. If the property is commercially zoned, I’m in favor of leaving it commercially zoned. It’s ideal for commercial, it’s not ideal for an apartment complex such as this."


Other residents raised concerns about the increased traffic in their neighborhood, lowered property values for the homeowners in the area, and loss of privacy and security.


"These areas that we’re talking about have been recently developed with very high-end scale homes," said Denison resident David Davis,


"You don’t want to have homes $500,000 a piece, and someone comes in and builds a one-bedroom house next door to you; you know what that would do to your property value. That’s the point I’m getting at here is that’s what’s being done."


Robert Yates of Denison said, "There is a traffic problem on Crawford Street right now. I just can’t see that kind of unit going there and being of benefit to the city of Denison."


Mayor Johnson said later, "Denison is progressing. We simply need to make sure we are growing the right way. There was some new information that came to light during the Council meeting that simply needs a little more time for the Council to discern."


Every citizen who expressed concern about the project to the Council also acknowledged that the city is in need of a similar development.


Hoppert said, "the idea of an apartment complex I think is great for the city of Denison, my strong opposition to this is the location," and every other resident speaker voiced a similar sentiment.


Mayor Johnson said, "There is no question that this is a great project and there is certainly the demand for this type of complex in our community."


The owner of the property in question, Sherman resident Lee Olmstead, spoke near the end of the public hearing to argue that the land is unlikely to be developed in the near future under any other circumstances.


Olmstead said, "I’ve owned this property for the last fifteen years, and I recognize everyone’s concerns, but… I’ve not seen a commercial developer approach me in over nine years about developing that tract of land.


"I understand the concern, and I would love to develop this commercially, obviously there would be a tremendous value in it per square foot, but I’ve not seen an offer in over nine years, I’ve seen no one even approach me with an idea… I haven’t even had somebody kick the tires."


The mayor told Olmstead, "That’s precisely what I just said, but I think the Council needs some time to be able to discern that."


The council ultimately moved to table the motion until they reconvene in regular session in January.


The mayor said later, "The delay allows time for us to ensure that the proposed use at the requested location is in the best interest for Denison both now and in the future."


LDG Development Spokesperson Carolyn McLean said in a prepared statement, "LDG Development is the owner-developer of 4,000 first-class, high-quality apartment homes.


We believe all deserving families regardless of income should have a safe and affordable place to live. Our gold-standard of craftsmanship can be seen in every apartment community we have built and maintained."