In response to the story (“League City stuck in MUD over details of new district,” The Daily News, March 16).

“Should we go along with this because it’s the best deal we’re going to get?” asked Ann Jeanette, a resident of Brittany Lakes. The event was a 2014 public meeting, led by property development representatives, on League City’s west side. Many local homeowners and some city officials were in attendance. I understood the details of the proposed zoning change of the acreage on which a major grocery store and many other retail businesses now operate next to and across the street from the YMCA.

What struck me was this simple, stark quality-of-life question for the surrounding neighborhoods. Should we quietly acquiesce to the proposed planned unit development, unappealing to most homeowners even with some written, legally binding restrictions on the development? Or should we dig in our heels, trying to gather enough support for a no vote in city council, and let loose whatever (potentially worse) consequences might follow?

The urban planning issues in League City aren’t news to me or anyone else who’s been paying attention to traffic, crime and drainage issues here. Some might characterize them as urban sprawl problems. An underlying tension has continued to simmer under the surface all across town for years.

The March 12 League City Council meeting brought back the community quality-of-life issue to the forefront. The agenda item seemed normal — whether or not to allow creation of Galveston County Municipal Utility District No. 80, with all its rules and documents, on the west side. Much discussion involved what requirements on the developer should be in the utility agreement as part of the deal for (voluntary) city council approval. Nobody lives in that district. But many live around it and farther down the road toward Interstate 45.

“Congratulations,” Councilman Andy Mann bluntly said, to the surprise of many, “on making a more efficient path to the bottleneck ... At some point, you have to decide to say no.” Mann went up a level in governance. He wasn’t interested in check lists. He voted against the creation of the new MUD.

Should League City council approve a new MUD district, with stipulations that would help ensure a higher-quality subdivision and a “free” (to everyone outside the MUD) piece of a major road? Do we in League City accept a controlled deal, but nevertheless flawed because it’s a deal at all?

Or should it just draw a line in the sand, say enough is enough, no more concrete, cars and runoff? Should council, knowing full well that a subdivision of undetermined quality would still eventually get built in that location, just say no right now? When is enough too much?

The dilemma can be restated as: Must we govern our city via resigned pragmatism, or can we boldly declare, at least once? Neither choice is entirely satisfactory. I’m more excited that these kinds of questions are getting pointed airplay in full public view.

Chuck DiFalco lives in League City.

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(3) comments

Wayne D Holt

Chuck, what you are excited about reflects a new spirit of awareness that is changing minds and old habits. We have gone along with false dichotomies we were told we had to decide between. You describe a process in microcosm that I am hopeful will bloom into something much larger. Unlock the process and unleash great ideas. We wish our neighbors to the north success in charting a new direction.

Chuck DiFalco

Maybe it's hope more than excitement. I'm hopeful that there will be a debate in League City council, not just about the endless details of the MUD itself, but about city council members owning what they're voting for. Andy Mann called out his fellow council members to admit they're facilitating urban sprawl in the city. If tweaking a development or utility agreement is the property development power (besides zoning) the council thinks the state of Texas has left home rules cities with, then each council member should publicly admit that, and that more traffic and drainage problems can't be slowed down in any meaningful way. Mr. Mann's take on the MUD is something on the order of, "Ok, little bit nicer homes, a few more neighborhood amenities, a 'free' piece of arterial road given to the city, BIIIIIG deal (said sarcastically)."

Years ago, I served on the League City Growth and Development Committee. After months of work by citizens, its final report never saw the light of City Council day because it was politically incorrect from a business-as-usual-in-the-city point of view. Maybe the upcoming public debate about Galveston County MUD 80 will be as good as it gets for me. I can admit that.

Chuck DiFalco

Maybe it's hope more than excitement. I'm hopeful that there will be a debate in League City council, not just about the endless details of the MUD itself, but about city council members owning what they're voting for. Andy Mann called out his fellow council members to admit they're facilitating urban sprawl in the city. If tweaking a development or utility agreement is the property development power (besides zoning) the council thinks the state of Texas has left home rules cities with, then each council member should publicly admit that, and that more traffic and drainage demands can't be slowed down in any meaningful way. Mr. Mann's take on the MUD is something on the order of, "Ok, little bit nicer homes, a few more neighborhood amenities, a 'free' piece of arterial road given to the city, BIIIIIG deal (said sarcastically)."

Years ago, I served on the League City Growth and Development Committee. After months of work by citizens, its final report never saw the light of City Council day because it was politically incorrect from a business-as-usual-in-the-city point of view. Maybe the upcoming public debate about Galveston County MUD 80 will be as good as it gets for me. I can admit that.

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