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Glenwyck Setback Letter Town of Westlake February 29, 2016 Dear Glenwyck Farms residents, At the direction of Westlake Town Council, I am writing in response to a letter, dated February 15, 2016, sent via certified mail to Town Council, Town staff and me, a copy of which is enclosed as Attachment A (the "Glenwyck Letter"). The Glenwyck Letter appears to have a number-of signatories and references from both the Glenwyck Farms Homeowners Association Board of Directors and Glenwyck Farms Homeowners. However, it is unclear if the author is speaking on behalf of all Glenwyck Farms homeowners,the Glenwyck Homeowners Association,the Glenwyck Homeowners Association Board of Directors, or some subset of those groups. Thus, it is unclear exactly who should be receiving this response. Please forgive me if we have erred on the side of caution, and you are receiving something that you believe has no relevance to you. The Glenwyck Letter concerns property owned by Equity Investments that adjoins Glenwyck Farms. Attachment B is an aerial view of the property with the land in question highlighted. This property (hereinafter,the "Glenwyck Setback") has been the subject of much discussion over the past several months. Sadly, a tremendous amount of misinformation has been promulgated concerning the Glenwyck Setback. Much of this misinformation was presented to Town Council in a January 25 public hearing and is again repeated in the Glenwyck Letter. The Glenwyck Letter threatens legal action by"Glenwyck Farms residents" against the Town if the Town fails to meet certain stated demands. Mr. Neil McNabnay reiterated this threat of litigation in an email, dated February 25, 2016,to Council,Town staff and me. See Attachment C. It is my hope that this response will help clear up the existing confusion that continues to circulate. Before we can embark on that journey, however, it is necessary to review the facts and circumstances that have created this controversy. Backaround. In November 1992,the Town adopted Ordinance 202. See Attachment D. Ordinance 202 established a 500 foot building setback from residential use property, which residential use property includes the Glenwyck Farms of today. This 500 foot setback corresponds to the "building line"that appears on the original plat of the property filed in 1988 in connection with the construction of the regional IBM headquarters in Solana. See Attachment E. The effect of the 500 foot "building line" on the plat and the 500 foot setback in Ordinance 202 is one and the same: it establishes the line beyond which no primary or accessory building may be constructed. 1301 Solana Blvd.,Building 4, Suite 4202 o Westlake,Texas 76262 Phone: 817-430-0941 ® Fax: 817-430-1812 o www.Westlake-TX.org It does not prevent, however, the building of a parking lot or sidewalk or other type of access. Typographical Error. In 2013, the Town adopted Ordinance 691, which amended Ordinance 202 and divided the Solana Planning District into three Planning Districts: PD1-1; PD1-2 (Entrada); and PD1-3 (Granada). See Attachment F. Unfortunately, Section 4(C) 3 of Ordinance 691 as adopted contained a typographical error. Specifically,the word "except" was inadvertently omitted. The effect of that mistake was to reduce the Glenwyck Setback to 100 feet and establish a 500 foot setback along the property line dividing Granada and Entrada from Solana. It is my understanding that some Glenwyck Farms residents became aware of the mistake and brought it to the attention of Town staff sometime in 2015. Town staff committed to have the mistake corrected when Equity Investments, the current owner of Solana, submitted a zoning application relating to other issues that were then under discussion. As Mayor, I first became aware of the issue on November 18, 2015 at the annual Town initiated neighborhood meeting in Glenwyck Farms. Some Glenwyck Farms residents whose property adjoined the Glenwyck Setback were understandably upset that this mistake had not been corrected, leaving them exposed to a 100 foot setback as opposed to the 500 foot setback they had previously enjoyed. At that meeting, we committed to make the correction a top priority and to have it completed as soon as possible. Thus,the Town filed its own zoning case in December 2015, pursuant to the Texas law that allows municipalities to initiate zoning cases to correct mistakes like this. Westlake's Planning and Zoning Commission heard the case on January 4, 2016 and recommended to Town Council that: the 500 foot Glenwyck Setback be reinstated;the 500 foot Entrada setback be removed; and the 500 foot Granada setback be allowed to remain. At the meeting, Brian Driesse from Equity Investments registered his objection to the case, stating that Equity had purchased the property believing the setbacks were as presented in Ordinance 691; requesting more time to resolve the matter; and objecting to the idea that the Town would restore the Glenwyck Setback, but not remove the Granada and Entrada setback that Ordinance 691 inadvertently established. In a subsequent conference call between Mr. Driesse, members of Town staff and me, Mr. Dreese reiterated his objection, especially as it related to the Granada and Entrada setback. Frankly, I could understand his position. If the Town was going to correct the mistake by reinstating the Glenwyck Setback, it would stand to reason that the Granada and Entrada setback should be reduced. But reducing the Granada and Entrada footage clearly impacted those who had purchased lots in the Granada development based on a 500 foot setback. The matter came before Town Council on January 25, 2016. During the meeting, the Council heard from some of the affected property owners and Mr. Driesse. Upon my suggestion,the Council voted to restore the Glenwyck Setback by adopting Ordinance 767. See Attachment G. In addition, Council voted to continue the portion of the case that related to Entrada and Granada so as to give the Town and Equity Investments more time to reach a satisfactory solution that would not negatively impact Granada property owners. Page 2 of 5 Points of Misinformation. Points of Clarification. At both the Planning and Zoning Commission and Town meetings, a few property owners argued that the Glenwyck Setback is not a setback at all, but instead a "buffer"that is to remain totally undisturbed. Many of the arguments proffered at the Council and P & Z meetings are the same as those contained in the Glenwyck Letter. Specifically, they argued that Ordinance 202, as subsequently amended, never clearly established a setback because the word "yard" (not "setback") is used in reference to the 500 feet in question. This argument fails to recognize that the terms"yard"and "setback" are synonymous in Ordinance 202;they have the same meaning and effect. This fact is perhaps best understood when thought of in personal terms: our homes are "set back" a prescribed distance from the street;that distance establishes our yard; within that yard we often have driveways, sidewalks, basketball hoops, etc. In addition, it was argued that the Town has always treated the Glenwyck Setback as a "buffer" and thus, has consistently prohibited any construction at all on the property. This is simply not true. The Solana Club parking lot is approximately 150 feet into the Glenwyck Setback, something which could not have occurred had the Town been treating the Glenwyck Setback as a "buffer." In further support of their argument, quotes have been offered from prior Town officials,that the Glenwyck Setback was intended to be a "buffer", and remain as "undisturbed greenspace." The fact is, it just does not matter how other people have described the property, including former Aldermen,former Town Managers and former real estate developers. Again, based on our individual real estate experiences,we know that the documents govern. It doesn't matter that the real estate agent promised that Highway 114 would never be widened or that FM 1938 would always be a dead end road. If the representations are not part of the governing documents,they are without effect. In this case,the governing documents are the 1988 plat and Town ordinances, which clearly establish a 500 foot setback, or yard, if that is the term with which you are most comfortable. In addition, it was argued that since some of the Town's then elected officials who signed the 1988 plat and approved Ordinance 202 lived in what is now Glenwyck Farms, those officials could not have intended it to be a setback because doing so would not have been in their individual best interest. Even if such a case of self-dealing could be made (and I am certainly not suggesting that it could),the fact remains that the 1988 plat and the language of the Town ordinances have established a setback, regardless of whether the then elected officials may have intended otherwise. Although the word "buffer" appears numerous times in the Glenwyck Letter, neither it nor anything synonymous with it appears anywhere in Ordinance 202 or subsequent amendments. Statements of intent or conjecture regarding what people must have been thinking cannot create a buffer where one does not exist. For the Town to take the position that a buffer in fact exists could be very easily construed as a "taking" of property owned by Equity Investments and would most likely subject Westlake to unfortunate and costly litigation. Page 3 of 5 Ordinance 767 and the Glenwyck letter. It appears that the Glenwyck Letter is trying to state a claim that Ordinance 767 does not reflect Council's intent as expressed at the January 25 meeting. Having presided over all facets of the meeting, 1 disagree with this assertion. The 1988 plat and Ordinance 202 established a setback which was inadvertently reduced because of a mistake. Ordinance 767 corrected the mistake and restored the setback to its original distance,thus restoring to Glenwyck Farms residents the protection the Glenwyck Setback was meant to provide. In my opinion, this is precisely what Council intended to do. Finally, the Glenwyck Letter purports that a portion of the preamble of Ordinance 767 (i.e., a "whereas" clause) makes a change in the Town's ordinances as they relate to a lot coverage rule. This claim is apparently based on a misinterpretation of municipal law. The preamble of an ordinance cannot change existing law. Rather, a substantive provision in an ordinance must occur after the phrase "Now, be it ordained by the Town Council of the Town of Westlake, Texas." The effect of the Comprehensive Plan and the Solana Planning District. It is important to understand that the newly revised Comprehensive Plan, adopted by Town Council in 2015, designates as Open Space the whole 62.5 acre tract of land of which the Glenwyck Setback is a part. See Attachment B. Although, current entitlements on this 62.5 acre tract allow development, the Open Space designation is a signal to future developers that the Town will be pushing for the space to remain open and unimproved should the developer request any sort of zoning change. In the event a future developer does not agree to the Open Space designation and desires to develop the property, it is important to know that the very nature of the Solana Planned Development District gives the Town many strong tools to heavily regulate the manner in which the property can be developed. These tools range from requiring preservation of view corridors,to requiring preservation of trees,to limiting the footprint and placement of any structures and all improvements, and to things as simple as the placement of trash cans. 1 hope I have shed light on a subject that appears to have been swirling around our community for the last several months. Please know that your Town Council, your Town staff, and I remain available to answer any questions you may have. Sincerely, Laura Wheat Mayor, Town of Westlake Enclosures Page 4 of 5