City Council unanimously approves categories for proposed resort/retirement development at Lake Crook

From left, Mayor AJ Hashmi, city planner Alan Efrussy, city manager John Godwin and city engineer Shawn Napier are shown last January as they hold up a map of proposed development for Lake Crook into a retirement and/or resort area. (eParisExtra photo by Charles Richards)

 

The Paris City Council has unanimously approved the rezoning of Lake Crook, setting the stage for turning the seldom-used lake north of the city into a retirement and/or resort development.

Mayor AJ Hashmi introduced the agenda item of Monday night’s council meeting by quoting from Locksley Hall, a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson:

“When I dipt into the future far as human eye could see; Saw the Vision of the world and all the wonder that would be.”

Hashmi then told his colleagues on the council: “Ladies and gentleman, what we’re presenting today … is a giant leap into the future, a vision of what lies ahead for the city.”

Shown above is a satellite view of Lake Crook, about two miles north of Loop 286. (CLICK  TO  ENLARGE)

Shown above is a satellite view of Lake Crook, on the north edge of the city. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

The mayor called the Lake Crook Development Project “probably the third biggest project” the city has undertaken, after the decision to begin replacing aging water and sewer lines and to extend water and sewer infrastructure to Cox Field Airport.

Hashmi praised the work of city planner Alan Efrussy in putting together the comprehensive breakdown of 11 zones of various types surrounding Lake Crook.

“It really is an absolutely phenomenal and beautiful job,” the mayor said.

An early dream and goal of Hashmi following his election to the council in June 2011 was to secure a major developer committed to redevelopment of Lake Crook, perhaps even on the scope of a mid-America equivalent of Disney Land or Disney World.

That hasn’t happened, but Hashmi continues to court deep-pocket interests not only in the United States but around the world.

Monday night, Hashmi took the council through the 11 proposed sub-zones established by Efrussy for the more than 3,000 acres that make up the Lake Crook Planned Development District surrounding the approximately 1,000 acres of water.

As Hashmi talked of the various categories of developments that are proposed around Lake Crook, he emphasized that “nothing is being taken away” from the Archers for Christ and Maxey Rifle Club, who currently lease land near Lake Crook from the city.

Among the 11 sub-zones is a 337.3-acre tract (Sub-Zone 1), designated as a “Resort Area Planned Development” with emphasis on providing hunting, fishing and other natural resource appreciation benefits.

That does not guarantee that a resort will come to Lake Crook, but allows for the possibility. This area can also be conducive to certain residential uses, such as a retirement community or senior housing.

Another sub-zone is a 138.3-acre tract (Sub-Zone 2), designated as a “Government Zoning District” for federal, state, county and municipal governments. The mayor has suggested the possibility of putting City Hall and City Council Chambers there, overlooking the lake.

A mock-up presented to the council last January showed a hotel in the peninsula that extends out into Lake Crook. There were also both homes and retail establishments with lakeside views.

There was also a bicycle/walking track around the lake, a golf course and a hunting/fishing area.

“This has a very detailed, very thorough application process, but as I read through this, I did not see a timetable for how long someone had to do something,” Hashmi asked Efrussy.

“The idea is not to have someone sit on a piece of undeveloped property. At what point do they get penalized for not developing it?” the mayor asked.

District 6 Councilwoman Cleonne Drake said that was also one of the questions she had.

Efrussy said the standard, before the economic downturn, was generally two to three years, after which “it becomes null and void” unless they do some kind of action.

“I happen to think three years is a little bit short. I’m not uncomfortable at five years,” the planning director said.

“My question on this is, supposing a big development comes into the recreation area. Obviously the price of property suddenly increases in that area. At that point, do you not feel that five years is too long?” Hashmi asked.

Hashmi then asked City Manager John Godwin what he thought.

“The high-quality developer world is a great person to team up with, but they’re also in the business to make a profit,” Godwin said. “I don’t like to disagree with Alan, because he’s the expert on this, but I think three years is fine. That may not be the best practice in the planning world, but I think this is a unique situation.”

Efrussy said, as he noted, three years used to be the standard around the country, “and I’m perfectly comfortable with it.”

Of the 3,077.4 acres that comprises the Lake Crook Planned Development District, 1,702.2 acres (55.3 percent) is owned by the City of Paris. The two largest sub-zones (10 and 11) (626.6 and 784.6 acres, respectively) are not owned by the city, although all of the development is in the Paris city limits.

Here are descriptions of each of the 11 sub-zones that make up the Lake Crook Planned Development District (correlates with the lake zoning chart at the bottom of this page):

SUB-ZONE 1: Resort Area Planned Development (337.3 Acres)

Purpose: To establish a resort-oriented area with emphasis on providing hunting, fishing and other natural resource appreciation benefits. This area can also be conducive to certain residential uses, such as a retirement community of senior housing.

SUB-ZONE 2: Government Zoning District (138.3 acres)

Purpose: To provide an area for public use by federal, state, county and municipal governments, as well as other specialized governmental entities, with jurisdiction within the City of Paris.

Other land uses that are/can be supportive of governmental uses will also be considered in this sub-zone. This zoning district may also provide opportunity for a one-acre single-family home other than within the existing Agricultural Zoning District.

SUB-ZONE 3: Lake Frontage Single-Family Residential Lot Zoning District – Minimum 1-Acre in Size (148.4 acres)

Purpose: To promote and encourage the opportunity for a residential lifestyle represented by single-family homes with lakefront access on land parcels not less than one acre in size.

SUB-ZONE 4A: Lakeside Retail Sub-Zone (79.7 acres)

Purpose: To permit lake-oriented commercial/retail developments by which views and the uses and economic development are a function of the Lake Crook proximity.

SUB-ZONE 4B: Lakeside Multi-Family Sub-Zone (23.7 acres)

Purpose: a) To offer additional housing types to provide further market opportunity for the proposed nearby water-oriented commercial retail uses; b) to provide water-oriented views and living environments for those who select multi-family living instead of single-family residential lifestyles.

SUB-ZONE 4C: Multi-Family District (67.9 acres)

Purpose: To provide higher density residential lifestyle opportunity near Lake Crook. This area is designed for apartment living.

SUB-ZONE 4D: Residential/Neighborhood Retail Sub-Zone (15.5 acres)

Purpose: To provide residential/neighborhood/convenience shopping opportunities to provide goods and services to residents (and business employees) within the Lake Crook planning area, as well as such shopping opportunities in the environs of the Lake Crook area.

SUB-ZONE 5: Lake Front-Oriented Single-Family Residential Zoning District, Minimum Lot 1 acre (124.2 acres)

Purpose: To provide single-family residential opportunities with the component of associated lakefront views. Minimum lot sizes, 1 acre. This lot size is compatible with the semi-rural environment represented by the Lake Crook planning area and will also provide lot dimensions conducive to recreational and boating activities. All site designs for development shall, as feasible, optimize views, vista corridors, and boat/recreational access to Lake Crook.

SUB-ZONE 6: Lake Front-Oriented Single-Family Residential Zoning District, Minimum Lot 20,000 square feet (118.2 acres)

Purpose: To provide single-family residential opportunities for larger-lot living on 20,000 square foot minimum lot sizes. This subzone is not directly adjacent to Lake Crook.

SUB-ZONE 7: Recreational Zoning District (186.1 acres)

Purpose: To provide broad opportunity for outdoor-oriented recreational uses to serve the citizens of Paris and the surrounding environs. This entire subzon can provide relative nearby recreational opportunities to the businesses and residents of other sub-zones.

SUB-ZONE 8: Passive Recreation and Environmental Resource Area (252.3 acres)

Purpose: This area of substantial acreage is essentially characterized by flood plain. With frontage directly to Lake Crook, this sub-zone can provide excellent park, recreation,open space, trail and aesthetic vistas/view corridors for Paris citizens. Currently, city staff is considering the possibility of passive recreational use and environmental resource opportunities. Users could be the general public and educational institutions at various levels.

Active Recreation: The term “active recreation” includes but is not limited to swimming, tennis and other court games; baseball and other field sports; golf; and playground activities. Often, active recreational activities can generate nuisances to adjacent properties because of noise, light, or glare, such as outdoor swimming pools, lighted tennis courts, lighted baseball/softball/football/soccer complexes, and golf courses.

Passive Recreation: The term “passive recreation” includes but is not limited to such activities as hiking, bicycling, picnicking, and trails. Also, passive recreation can be characterized as involving existing natural resources and has a minimum negative impact.

SUB-ZONE 9: Passive Recreation and Environmental ResourceArea (210.6 acres)

Purpose: Same as Sub-Zone 8. This sub-zone also contains substantial acreage and is essentially characterized by flood plain.

SUB-ZONE 10 (626.6 acres) and 11 (748.6 acres): Both of these sub-zones are designated as Single-Family Detached Homes – Minimum Lot Size: 1 Acre.

Purpose: These two sub-zones are the only sub-zones in the Lake Crook Planned Development District that are not owned by the City of Paris. Further, both of these sub-zones are designated for development of single-family homes on a minimum lot size of one acre. One-acre lots are compatible with the wooded and semi-rural environment that characterizes the Lake Crook environs. Currently, the only opportunity for one-acre lot size single-family homes is within the Agricultural Districts, and thus these two sub-zones will provide additional opportunity in Paris for large-lot, single-family home developments.

Both of these sub-zones contain very substantial acreages. Consequently, staff is recommending that agricultural land use opportunities continue to exist in Paris. This will provide further opportunities for a variety of land uses (and therefore zoning districts) in the city. The greater the variety of land uses in a municipality, the greater the opportunity for varied markets, and therefore enhanced opportunities for increased tax base, employment opportunities, and economic vitality.

In addition, agricultural use (like large-lot single-family residential areas) is a highly compatible land use for the existing land mass that characterizes the Lake Crook environs.

Also, it is recommended that a minimum acreage of 10 acres for approval of an agricultural Special Use Permit in these two sub-zones will provide sufficient acreage to create buffering distances presumably adequate to separate agriculture uses from the one-acre single-family home sites.

It is also recommended that the more intensive agriculture uses, such as (but not limited to) slaughter pens and rendering work be prohibited when granting agricultural Special Use Permits within these two sub-zones.

By Charles Richards, eParisExtra

This map of the “Proposed Lake Crook Planned Development” shows a general outline of development proposals — including hotels, restaurants, conference centers, resorts, residences and businesses with lake side views, town houses, a golf course, walking and bicycle path, a hunting/fishing area, and more.

This map of the “Proposed Lake Crook Planned Development” shows a general outline of development proposals — including hotels, restaurants, conference centers, resorts, residences and businesses with lake side views, town houses, a golf course, walking and bicycle path, a hunting/fishing area, and more.

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About the Author
Author

Charles Richards Charles Richards moved to Paris in 2004 after retiring from a 40-year career in journalism – the last 26 years as a news writer and sports writer with The Associated Press in Dallas and Washington, D.C. In mid-2004, The Paris News coaxed him out of retirement, and he began covering the police, court and regional beat for The Paris News. Then in early 2005, he was switched to coverage of a sharply divided Paris City Council. He was appointed by the City Council in 2006 to the 12-member City Charter Review Commission, which extensively rewrote the outmoded document. His writing awards include two first-place awards in statewide competition for feature writing. The most recent was his 2005 story on a Paris doctor’s startling use of leeches in a successful attempt to re-attach a man’s severed ear. Over his career, Richards’ interview subjects include Alabama Gov. George Wallace, President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, David Koresh, Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali and numerous other political and sports figures. He is an alumnus of Texas Tech, where he was editor of the school newspaper. He lives in Paris with his wife, Barbara, who is retired after 30 years as a teacher and high school counselor.