I sent off an email to the Mayor as I stated I would in an earlier post.  I explained that I was extremely disappointed in the timing of the meeting on Thursday and that he and staff should have done a better job letting the public know about the Thursday meeting.  Late tonight I received a response from Assistant City Manager Chris Fuller.  In carrying on the tradition of being completely open, here is the entire email:

Mayor McGrail has asked that I respond on his behalf regarding the Town Center Visioning Project process.

It is not staff’s intention to limit public input regarding the Town Center Visioning Project process.  There will be several opportunities throughout the process for the public to provide comments and recommendations regarding development standards within the Town Center zoning district.  The Workshop being conducted by the facilitator at 7pm on the 16th is one method for soliciting citizen input.  (As an aside, the workshop being held on the 16th will be televised, recorded, and available as streaming video on the City website.)  Citizens who are unable to attend the workshop, or who would like to submit additional information after the workshop, will be able to fax and email comments to staff throughout the month, as well as provide input at the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council public hearings (dates TBD).  Staff has also developed a webpage, accessible through the City website, that is intended to inform the public of current Town Center Visioning Project events and to provide additional avenues to submit public comments.

Among the goals of this project is to engage as many of the citizenry as possible.  To do so, staff has mailed workshop notices to all Homeowners Associations within the City and to property owners within 200 feet of the Town Center zoning district.  The notices were mailed 10 days prior to the Town Center Visioning Project Workshop, which is the notification standard for rezoning public hearings.   Staff has also emailed a number of individual citizens who have been involved in previous Town Center discussions and activities.  In addition to the notices sent to advertise the Workshop, staff has mailed notices informing property owners within 200 feet of the Town Center zoning district and to all HOAs within the City of the continuing public comment period through the end of the month, staff’s fax and telephone numbers, and email address.

Notices advertising the October 16 Workshop meeting were also sent to subscribers of the Mayor’s Update, and listed throughout the City website including the following locations:  the Homepage Calendar, the Homepage Highlights, the Keller News, Community Development Events and Community Development News.  Announcements were made at the October 7 City Council meeting as well as the October 13 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.  A notice was posted in the October 12 Fort Worth Star Telegram Northeast Edition.  Additional newspaper notices will be published in The Keller Citizen advertising the public comment period as well as postings throughout the City website, including the upcoming Mayor’s Update.

The Workshop being held on the 16th is simply an instrument for gathering citizen input.  No decisions will be made, no votes cast, no plans unveiled.  The purpose is to invite public participation.  City staff will not be present at this meeting so that the facilitator can receive unfiltered, unbiased comments, opinions, and recommendations directly from citizens throughout the City.  Citizen comments received after the 16th will be forwarded to the consultant (and to the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council) and will be included in any reports and analyses regarding the Town Center Visioning Project.

Citizens who are unable to attend the Workshop will be able to access a recording of the meeting through the website.

Thank you,

Chris Fuller

Assistant City Manager

City of Keller

I like Chris a lot and think he is a remarkable hire for the City of Keller.  But, (there is always a but isn’t there?) Chris wasn’t here last fall, he didn’t experience the outrage of the citizens when Keller Station came on the scene.  The staff should have went out of their way to make sure this news got out in a better fashion than what happened.  As I stated, even as a member of P&Z we weren’t notified until last night.  Councilman Holmes has made a comment on another post stating basically the same thing, and he’s an elected official.

Chris states that the information is all on the City’s website, but really, how many people besides us weirdo’s that read and post on this blog read the City’s website on a weekly basis?

I now understand that there will be further opportunities to elaborate on the TC Vision project, but when you hold your first meeting before it makes the local paper it doesn’t look good.  I’m afraid it could poison the project before it gets off the ground and it’s too important a project to let that happen.  This is what the citizens want, public input into changing the Town Center UDC.  The people just wish to be heard.

What should have been a positive for the City has quickly turned into a negative because of lack of communication.  In a town of nearly 40,000 sending out a few hundred postcards and notifying the HOA’s doesn’t cut it.  Heck, I took it upon myself to email Hidden Lakes HOA and have yet to receive a response.

Maybe I’m being overly sensitive on this and please tell me if I am.

I do know one thing, me speaking out on this issue isn’t going to look good in my P&Z reappointment interview.  But you got to do what you got to do.