Bruce Arfsten, Addison City Council Post (Facebook) October 2, 2016

Bruce Arfsten, Addison City Council, Post (Facebook)

October 2, 2016

Typically you won’t see me respond publicly and online to anything Mayor Meier includes in his weekly newsletter. He’s free to write whatever he wants on his own website, just as any of us are thanks to our freedom of speech. Today I feel compelled to provide some clarity regarding his comments on the change in Addison’s housing policy, for anyone interested in hearing another perspective.

He names myself and three other council members stating that we “…want to change our policy to make it easier for more apartments to come to Addison.” Perhaps that fits with his strategy to instill fear into the minds of Addison residents about particular council members, but I can’t speak to his motivation, I can only speculate.

Obviously I can only speak for myself on this topic, but I don’t get a sense from any other council members that there is a desire to push for rezoning for a bunch of new apartment projects. That is certainly not a goal of mine. The intent of the revision in the housing policy is to provide flexibility to the Town’s staff and give them the latitude to at least look at and consider projects as they are presented to them. The way the policy was previously written essentially sent the message to staff to “just say no” regardless of the project. With that position, we have completely closed the door on anyone bringing forward an exceptional project that may be worth considering. I want the staff to use their professional judgment to determine if the merits of a particular project make it worth looking at. We claim to be an “innovative and creative” Town, but in order to earn that distinction we have to be willing to think outside the box and encourage “innovative and creative” ideas that might reveal a previously unknown “highest and best use” for a property.

The desire to add more fee-simple (ownership) residential real estate in Addison appears to be shared by most, if not all, of the folks I talk to around Town. I share that desire. The reality is that with our very limited geographic footprint (about three and a half square miles once you take out the airport), the opportunities to develop new projects of this type are even more limited. I would certainly encourage that type of redevelopment if someone brings forward a quality project. For those who want to see those projects provide “affordable” housing options, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. With the upcoming new townhomes at Addison Groves having an estimated average price of around $400K, that should give you an indication of where the new home market is and prices continue to rise.

This was a bit longer than I anticipated, but I wanted to share what I think are some important points. I believe the revision in the housing policy is a good one and contrary to what some might have you think, the bulldozers are not going to start showing up next month and scraping office buildings to put up new apartment buildings.

Makes me wonder though, if the revised policy is so terribly bad, why did Mayor Meier vote for it?