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The Waxahachie City Council unanimously approved a plat for Garden Valley Apartments during its Monday night meeting; however, members denied the developer’s request to waive the park land dedication fees for the property.

Planning director Shon Brooks presented the request to the council for consideration. The multi-family apartment complex is located at 240 Park Place Blvd.

“The issue with this plat that is coming before the city council is they are requesting some relief from their park fees,” Brooks said. “Staff does make a recommendation of approval of the plat as it does meet the requirements of our subdivision ordinance. However, we make the recommendation [as did] the planning and zoning commission of denying the request for relief of those park fees.”

Documents in the council packet indicate that fees for the park land dedication are estimated at $85,200 or $400 per unit. The apartment complex has 213 units.

The case was before the city council due to an error made when the development was originally reviewed by the city for consideration.

“A preliminary plat for the Garden Valley Addition was approved on Nov. 6, 2017,” according to the packet documents. “After the approval of the preliminary plat, building permits were issued in April 2018 and the apartments on the site now were constructed.

“The building permits were released in error and a final plat should have been required for the release of the building permits,” the documents read. “In December 2020, city staff determined that a final plat for the project had not been approved, and the applicant is now proceeding through the platting process with this case.”

The developer requested a waiver of the park land fees, noting that the buildings were permitted, already constructed, and a certificate of occupancy was granted without requiring any park land dedication or cash in lieu of that dedication. A title company has also told the developer that platting is not a requirement for selling the property.

Nic Balsamo, partner with Kalterra Capital Partners, addressed the council about the situation.

“Typically, the way it is supposed to function is that the final certificate of occupancy is not supposed to be released for the building unless we pay the park land dedication fee, but that was missed,” he said. “We received our final certificate of occupancy. So, we were not budgeting for this $85,000 fee.

“We were unaware of it and ultimately the responsibility falls on us and we recognize that,” he said. “I just didn’t want it to appear that we were asking for a fee to be waived for no reason. It was something that seemed to be missed through the process. “

Balsamo offered the city an alternative instead of the full amount of the park land dedication fee.

“There is one piece of property that we do have that we could potentially dedicate,” he said. “It is a small detention pond that is east of the property. It is 0.5 acres so it does not quite reach the amount of land that we would need to dedicate to waive the dedication fees. So, we would still pay a fee in lieu of, but we still think that it could be a cool little amenity for that walking trail if we added a fountain to make it a feature.

“We are not here asking for the dedication fee to be completely eliminated, but if there was some functionality for that retention pond, we would be happy to dedicate that and add some features to it to beautify the trail so we could somewhat reduce our fee.”

City manager Michael Scott told the council the subdivision ordinance is clear on what is accepted in the way of park dedication and would prohibit the use of a detention pond in this manner.

“A detention pond is not useable space that can be activated for public recreation and enjoyment,” Scott said. “Staff would not recommend that land in lieu of fees.”

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