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Welcoming future city next door

City of Greenville

The Greenville City Council could vote next month to enter into a formal agreement with developers behind a massive planned community just west of the city.

The council heard Tuesday from Alexa C. Knight and Matt Robinson with the Walton Development & Management about the proposal to establish a multi-use development, which has been on the drawing boards for the past few years.

“We develop master planned communities. That’s what we’re all about,” Knight, president of Walton Development, told the council. Knight said the company, based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada has offices in Dallas and Austin and is currently involved in 19 planned developments in the state.

Knight said the development is expected to include industrial, commercial, retail and residential projects.

“They eventually are going to need rooftops, and that is what we are in the process of providing,” Knight said.

Representatives with the Walton Group first presented the proposal in December 2008.

In 2011, voters approved the Hunt County Municipal Utility District (MUD) No. 1, which was formally created by the Texas Legislature the same year.

MUDs are one way developers can use to help pay for the establishment of infrastructure such as roads as well as water and sewer lines, with bonds sold to pay off the debt incurred through the establishment of an ad valorem tax rate within the district.

The district covers almost 6,700 acres, some of which is located within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the City of Greenville.

Robinson, general manager of Walton Development, told the council the district is being conceived as a “phased generational master planned development”, which eventually will be annexed into the Greenville city limits.

As the district is created, Robinson said, Greenville will receive sales tax revenue from the businesses which build in the district and would receive property and sales tax revenue following the annexations, which will be conducted in phases as the district is built out. The city will be able to apply subdivision standards and land use regulations to help govern the development within the district.

Robinson commended the cooperation he had received from the city’s staff, including City Manager Massoud Ebrahim and City Attorney Daniel Ray.

“They have been really wonderful to work with,” Robinson said.

Ray presented the council Tuesday with a draft version of the development agreement between the city and Walton, which covers 80 pages and includes “very specific rules and regulations as to what they are going to build out there.”

Ray explained that a vote on the agreement will be included on the agenda for the council’s December 10 meeting, adding that the agreement is the culmination of years of work.

“That is four years worth of negotiation,” Ray said. “It ramped up pretty much during the past four or five months.”

During the summer of 2012, the City of Greenville announced it was planning to provide the water and sewer service to the district, which eventually will cover an area of almost 13,000 acres, approximately nine miles west of downtown Greenville.

Ray said the developers will be meeting on response times soon with police and fire officials, “to determine how many minutes it will take to get out there.”

When asked, Ray said there is no firm time table set on how fast the annexations will take place.

“The long term idea here is that this will eventually all be a part of Greenville,” Ray said. “Future councils will have to make the decisions as to what to annex and when to annex.”