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P&Z recommends FMHS ninth-grade campus, sports fields relocation
Lewisville ISD has one last hurdle to clear before proceeding with a ninth-grade campus at Flower Mound High School and the relocation of three of its athletic facilities.
The Flower Mound Planning and Zoning Commission voted 6-1 Monday to recommend a replat and a site plan for the ninth-grade campus and the sports complex, which includes a tennis court, a baseball field and a softball field.
Commissioner Eddie White voted against the motions, saying he disagreed with LISD's management of its projects.
The recommendations will go to the town council for a vote March 4.
The ninth-grade campus was part of the 2008 bond package approved by voters.
Plans call for the campus to be attached to the southeast end of the main campus. If approved by the council, it would feature a serpentine hallway that creates a learning hub with various learning studios. Each studio would have classrooms, a collaboration area and administration offices. This would be the same format for both levels of the two-story campus.
It would also include a lecture hall, a media center and a cyber cafe.
As part of the project, a black box theater would be constructed adjacent to the existing auditorium, and a basketball arena would be built near the field house.
Resident Mellany Lamb supported the ninth-grade center, saying it will keeps the freshmen on campus and doesn't split them up like the Lewisville High School Killough and Harmon campuses do.
"Having Harmon and Killough separate from LHS is a logistical nightmare," Lamb said. "It costs $80,000 to $100,000 a year to bus students from Killough to LHS."
Commissioners favored the plan as well, though many were worried about so many extra students crossing the street on Old Settlers Road since that's where the new building's exit would be.
"I'm concerned about the pedestrians crossing on Old Settlers, and I think the ninth-grade center is going to exasperate that," said Commissioner Don McDaniel. "Kids will have the tendency to walk out of the campus and cross at the closest point."
Town officials said a traffic study could be conducted to determine the feasibility of a crossing guard at Old Settlers and Sagebrush Drive and/or Heatfield Drive.
To make room for the new project, LISD is seeking to move the three sports facilities across the school on Peters Colony Road.
District officials said it's necessary to continue with the ninth-grade campus plan, adding that the location across from the high school is the best place for the relocation.
Others in the audience were concerned with the possible noise and lights that would come from the fields.
Michael Perry, LISD's executive director of new construction, said the district will use shuttered lights and that they will adhere to the town's strict light ordinance. He said the speakers will be aimed toward the bleachers and not the outfield, which backs up to the adjacent neighborhood.
In addition, there will be a 25-foot landscaping buffer between the outfield and the neighborhood property line, plus an additional 60-foot compatibility setback. There will also be a 10-foot masonry wall.
Resident Todd Smith, who led the opposition to the facility relocation, said he and other neighbors whose properties back up to the proposed athletics site were not notified in time about the project. Flower Mound and LISD officials denied that claim.
White said he was concerned about several pieces of this plan, including the notion that the neighbors weren't notified early enough in the process.
"Just because you follow the letter of the law, it doesn't mean it's the right thing to do," White said.
Smith also said the district is spending too much money on the project, adding that more than half of the plan's cost is going toward the field relocation. LISD officials disputed Smith's numbers.
White, too, disagreed with the district's push for the project, saying it was happening too fast and without regard to the original intent of the bond election.
"There has been $160 million re-allocated from the bond package," White said. "LISD has changed two-thirds of what we voted for. They spent $40 million on iPads, yet they say that if we don't balance the students, then they're going to pull programs from Forestwood [Middle School]. They keep changing their mind, so why should we give them what they want? This train is just moving down the track, and LISD is saying, 'Stop me if you can.'"