Keller officials drafting plan to guide future development

With a population of 45,090 residents across 18.4 square miles, Keller is running out of land alloted for development.

With a population of 45,090 residents across 18.4 square miles, Keller is running out of land alloted for development.

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Keller officials drafting plan to guide future development
Correction: In a story in Volume 1 Issue 3, a story on page 1 with the headline “Keller officials drafting plan to guide future development,” the story did not explain that survey respondents could endorse multiple options and that lots greater than 25,000 square feet were most preferred. The story has since been corrected.

Keller officials and residents are working on a vision for future development in the city.

Since fall 2017, city officials and members of Keller’s City Council and planning and zoning commission have worked on updates to Keller’s Future Land Use Plan, also known as the FLUP.

Their goal is to outline the types of commercial and residential development residents and officials hope to see in the city in the coming years. The plan will also include a map of how areas in the city could be built out. The final document will help guide future decisions.

Efforts so far have included tapping into expertise from consulting firm Freese and Nichols; researching developments and land use in other communities; and gathering public input through city events, meetings and surveys.

Though official dates have not been set, the Future Land Use Plan could be adopted by City Council in August after the city holds two public hearings to gather additional input.

What is the Future Land Use Plan?

According to the Future Land Use Plan, Keller is largely built out. Of the 18.4 square miles spanning its city limits, only 1,217 acres, or 10.3% of the city’s land, is vacant.

With limited space left for new construction, Keller City Council Member Tag Green said the updated Future Land Use Plan will guide how the city’s remaining space is developed.

“The higher that build-out percentage becomes, the more important it is to have a very coherent vision in front of people,” said Green, who is part of the task force working on the update. “This is how we want our city to grow and to redevelop.”

Though the Future Land Use Plan is designed to guide a city’s development over 20 years, many cities update their plans every five years. Keller’s current Future Land Use Plan was last updated in 1998.

“Communities change; different people move in; ccertain people move out; land development occurs in different ways; recessions happen; and markets go through the roof,” said Trina Zais, the director of public services and economic development for the city of Keller. “Developers with creative notions come in and maybe think of things you never would have thought of. For all of these different reasons, you want to make sure you update [the plan].”

Using the Future Land Use Plan

The Future Land Use Plan does not have the ability to allow or deny proposed developments.

The planning and zoning commission can use the plan to look at best uses for available spaces in Keller. It can also use the Future Land Use Plan to evaluate whether a development is something residents want. The commission can then make a recommendation to the City Council on whether to approve the development.

“The FLUP does not change any existing zoning. When there is a request for a zoning change, we will consider the FLUP for approving or disapproving that,” said Cary Page, a member of the commission and the Future Land Use Plan task force. “The FLUP … is not written in stone, so there will be times when we don’t religiously adhere to the FLUP.”

Ultimately, City Council will have the authority to deny or allow new developments in the city.

“The City Council can determine what goes into zoning; they do not have to follow a future land-use plan,” Green said. “But because it is the vision of the community, a city council should look to adhere to the Future Land Use Plan.”

Keller’s economic development officials will also use the Future Land Use Plan to attract new businesses and developments. Based on proposed land uses and resident feedback, the Keller Economic Development Department will identify what Zais calls “focus areas.” Officials will then work to attract new developments to those available spaces.

Existing focus areas already include Keller Town Center and areas along Keller Parkway.

“[The FLUP] is just the first step. The next step is the economic development strategic business plan, which has already been crafted based on the draft of the Future Land Use Plan update,” Zais said. “Based on that, we’ve got some pretty good direction, and we’ll use this to help us really focus on where we go next.”

What residents want

Resident input has been key to the plan, Green said. The Future Land Use Plan task force gathered public input from 1,512 participants to incorporate the types of developments residents want to see in the city.

Presenting the plan at public meetings, at local events, and through social media and online surveys helped the task force garner feedback.

Based on feedback from resident surveys, nearly 80% of respondents said they want to see more dining options in Keller.

Most of those in favor of new restaurants want casual eateries, according to the Future Land Use Plan. But respondents also said they want quality in their dining options, Zais added. Only 1.5% of respondents said they want to see more fast-food restaurants in Keller.

The second-highest-scoring category, at around 60%, was entertainment development. A majority of those respondents said they want to see more outdoor entertainment options. Nearly 19% of those who said they would like to see more entertainment options would support a live music venue in the city.

“I want to see a vision that takes Keller into a future that recognizes changes in demographics,” said Debbie Wolfe, a nine-year Keller resident who participated in two public input sessions for the Future Land Use Plan.

“The plan would consider that the demographics of the population are changing and think about how you change … to accommodate the change in ages and the growth we’re seeing in the Fort Worth area, and lean into that,” Wolfe added.

Wolfe, along with roughly 50% of respondents, wants to see more boutique shopping options in the city. More than 50% of respondents also said they would like to see an outdoor shopping center in Keller.

“I’d like us to get away from the strip [mall] development,” Wolfe added. “We have some areas of old strip malls, and I’d like to see a redevelopment strategy to turn those into more interesting types of spaces.”

In a survey question on smaller-lot residential development, more residents said they preferred single-family lots over townhomes/patio homes, multifamily units and senior living facilities. When asked about larger-lot residential and the appropriate minimum lot sizes, more residents preferred lots of 25,000 square feet or greater.

Residents will have a chance to voice their opinions at two more public hearings before City Council adopts the Future Land Use Plan, possibly in August. Dates for those public hearings have not been set.
By Korri Kezar
Korri Kezar graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2011 with a degree in journalism. She worked for Community Impact Newspaper's Round Rock-Pflugerville-Hutto edition for two years before moving to Dallas. Five years later, she returned to the company to launch Community Impact Newspaper's Keller-Roanoke-Northeast Fort Worth edition, where she covers local government, development, transportation and a variety of other topics. She has also worked at the San Antonio Express-News, Austin-American Statesman and Dallas Business Journal.


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