If I had to say one Wylie City Councilmember knocked it out of the ballpark last Tuesday night at their meeting, I would have to say it was Councilman Rick White. DOH! You say. Yes I know I am as shocked as my readers. I’ll admit I have had a true love hate relationship with the man since God took that rib from Adam and created Eve with it.
At last Tuesday night’s council meeting a work session was held regarding what to do with virtually the last 320 acres left in Wylie. What to do, what to do. Of course you know how this whole thing came about. Mr. Developer, this time Ron Haynes owner of Haynes Development, brought yet another harebrained concoction of a cookie-cutter, box house project to Wylie. Oczywiście! For those of you who don’t speak Polish, it means ‘of course’. Let me just point out here that I say ‘of course’ with the most sarcastic slant I can possibly add, just so we are clear on this point.
I ponder if I even really need to tell my readers what was proposed. I suppose if you barely tried, you would probably be right the first time. Yes, Mr. Haynes proposed slamming 1000 houses at 3 homes per acre on that 320 acres of pristine, virgin, a word Coucilman Goss kept obsessing over, land.
Now before you get to making your calculations like Councilman Scott did, 1/3 of an acre per home, you have to remember there are setbacks, easements, and other impediments that do not allow the whole 1/3 acre to be used. What Haynes proposed essential was not just zero lot-line homes, but no-lot line homes that, in the end, would probably look like government housing just like that projects looking thing down Westgate.
Tossing us what he thought was a bone, Mr. Haynes wanted to perk it up with a couple roundabouts. Now can you imagine that? Someone up north got the idea that roundabouts would be uber cool and they put them everywhere in Michigan. Do you know those death traps are being torn out because they cause so many accidents and backups that people cannot tolerate them? Oh yes, let’s do put in at least two roundabouts and watch all that traffic that heads down Pleasant Valley make their way around that flipping thing. I think it might be fun just to take some video for an hour or two.
I have news for these developers who think their quaint ideas will con us into thinking they are providing quality. We are Texans. When a Texas mile takes you 20 minutes to drive, we just don’t have time to mess about with ideas like roundabouts and other silliness. England can keep them; they seem to be civil enough to use them properly. Here in Texas if we are late for work, we’ll just make a path on over the center circle. Take a look at the impromptu off-ramps we’ve created off the freeways over the years. When it takes you over an hour to get to work, who has the time for a freaking game of merry-go-round?
It is true that Councilwoman Diane Culver, Councilman David Goss, and Mayor Eric Hogue all took turns taking whacks with the stupid stick at Mr. Haynes and their statements were all spot on. However it was Councilman Rick White who was my hero that night because he said it the most eloquently. White stated that Wylie doesn’t have, “Move up housing.” Bam. There it is. There stands the ginormous freaking white elephant of Wylie. There stands the very reason the spouse and I will leave Wylie in a matter of a couple years. Wylie does not offer any homes worth moving up into.
As I drive around town, all I see is more of the same ole’ same ole’. I can tell you who we can thank for that. We can thank those sitting on City Council back around 2000-2005, you know who you are. Yes, back in the day of the liquor cabinet and fat anonymous envelope crowd some crap went down that shouldn’t have. Ordinance changes were tabled indefinitely, people like Rick White were yelling loudly to get those building standards in Wylie bumped up dramatically, in order to pull in a better quality of builder, home, and citizen, and it all fell on fairly deaf ears. Three quarters of Wylie became filled with a sea of mediocrity we can thank the likes of Fox & Jacobs, Centex, Pulte, Choice, and Grand Homes for. A sea of ugly grey rooftops with very little change from one to the next.
During this time Mr. Don Herzog worked his magic and appealed to those wanting nicer homes in Wylie. Sure he stepped it up a bit but he crammed them on postage-sized lots claiming the same words of liberal Councilwoman Kathy Spillyards, “People don’t want yards.” Um, I don’t think so. People moved to Wylie to get the country feel which then turned into people moving into Wylie to get cheap, low-end housing. If I had known back when we first drove through Wylie thirteen years ago, that all this low to mid-end housing was planned, I would never have bought our house.
When we drove through the little downtown area years ago, we fell in love with the country feel. We didn’t want our kids going to Plano schools so we sold our house and got here as quickly as we could. I never dreamed there would be no move up housing available when we were ready for it. In fact, in 1 ½ years when my youngest graduates high school, I’m ready to seriously downsize, but there is nothing in Wylie that is of the quality that I want and expect. Personally, I’m looking for that country club feel, not houses crammed on lots so small that I can’t put in my own in-ground pool. That’s just stupid, and that is what Ron Haynes proposed with Pleasant Valley Road, damn near a main thoroughfare, going right through it all.
I don’t know about you but I don’t want that. OK, so I can move to a small home in Wylie and get a few more kitchen upgrades, but I’ve already upgraded quite a bit in my home so that’s not a huge draw to keep me here. I could move to a home that backs to a wooded area, but I already planted a veritable forest in my backyard and my gardens are to die for, so that's not a huge draw to remain in Wylie either. To be honest, I have fallen in love with Canyon Creek in Richardson, with its pristine golf course, beautiful and unique homes with character, and still room for a pool in my back yard. If you have ever eaten at Marcus Café, had a cone at Sweet Firefly, and strolled through Beyond the Door, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. It is a level of quality that Wylie does not offer. Canyon Creek has smaller homes in it, which are perfect for me to downsize, yet we are also considering the Preston and Park area in Plano.
Preston and Park offers stores I love such as William Sonoma, Trader Joes and restaurants galore. It is everything Wylie should have been, rather we got Target, Ross, and Rosa’s Café. When I moved to Wylie in 2001, I expected City Leaders to share my vision. They had oodles of beautiful land at their fingertips and a lake to boot! They could have created anything they chose. They could have gone more upscale and also kept the country feel. There is nothing wrong with custom homes on country lots, oh and they do sell contrary to what Realtor Spillyards will tell you; someone’s buying them. Um, people with money.
Wylie does not have move up housing and I would bet my bottom dollar that nearly everyone who sold a house in Wylie left because it would have been a phenomenal waste of money with real-estate fees, and loan origination fees to move from one vanilla house to yet another in Wylie. There is no tangible gain. This is why I agree with Councilman Rick White’s statement wholeheartedly. Now I fear 320 acres is a little too little and a little too late. It certainly won’t be enough to keep me here and I am uninterested in moving to home sites built on or near former dumps. All I can hope is that for all that Wylie got wrong, that our current Council continue to recognize this, and get right what little land is left available for the righting.
With the right support, such as supporting the Downtown Merchants Association, by fixing the no-alcohol issue downtown because the churches have us by the nuggies, and by encouraging and supporting upscale small businesses to open, Wylie could be another downtown Plano or downtown McKinney. By supporting the lakes and working to create an upscale area around them like Rockwall, Wylie could really possibly make the grade. It just takes some leaders with vision and I hope our City Council has finally figured that out.