Don Cacace: Frisco residents deserve a voice on open land sales
Our open lands are precious, and the handiwork of bulldozers is forever. Thats why our children will judge us fools if we dont vote Yes in Aprils Right-to-Vote ballot initiative, a ballot that will put an end to the Frisco Town Councils use of loopholes to avoid citizen votes on our towns open land sales.Friends of Frisco Open Space volunteers have gathered over 400 signatures from Frisco residents to put the Right-to-Vote question on the ballot. The next critical step is for Frisco citizens to vote yes. Its as much for now as it is for Friscos future.The Right-to-Vote petition is focused on creating a decision process that works for town-owned land. When it is clear that development projects will face the voters, the bar will be set higher. This will promote true consensus building and project designs that respect what Frisco citizens value.But wait, didnt we already vote in a Right-to-Vote law? Yes, in fact, in 2002 some 83 percent of Frisco citizens overwhelmingly passed a Right-to-Vote law and that law (Section 14-3) is still on the books, requiring a citizen vote prior to the sale or lease of any parks or open space land.So, why are we doing this again? Loopholes, thats why.Unfortunately, the town council has taken the position that this law does not apply to several large open parcels of town-owned land. These include the Home Depot Interstate parcel (9.4 acres), the Peak One parcel (12.7 acres), and the three Ophir Mountain parcels (5.2 acres each). The town claims these parcels are not subject to a vote because they are open land and not open space. Now you see, loopholes.The new Right-to-Vote initiative will close the loopholes and amend Section 14-3 to apply to all 12 parcels of town-owned land over 5 acres, and cancel out the open land versus open space question. Theres precious little of our dirt left, and we want a fair say in how its sold off. We thought we voted that in once, but now were going to make sure.The new Right-to-Vote ballots language will ask if a vote of the people should be required prior to the sale, lease, donation or subdivision of town-owned land over 5 acres in size, leaving no debate about the words land or space.The Frisco Town Council appears out-of-touch on land development issues. They hold on to a belief that Frisco citizens trust them to develop the 9.4 acre Interstate parcel, without a vote this time. In two weeks, they will send out an RFQ to developers to assure that their bulldozers are powerful enough to plow under the Peak One land. They think only a few neighbors care.Frisco citizens have always been passionate about preserving its land and its small town character. The 2006 Frisco Community Survey showed 82 percent of Frisco voters thought open space should be a town council priority. In the same survey, when asked where to spend town resources, residents top two allocations were for recreation and open space.In a disconnect with these citizen values, the town council repealed our statutory Frisco Open Space and Trails (FROST) advisory committee and cut the 2008 open space funding by two thirds. In the 2009 budget, Frisco open space funding has been cut to zero.Voting is simply the right process for Frisco. Since 1992, Frisco citizens have voted on every major development project of town-owned land. Four times in the last 17 years, Frisco citizens have voted to save the Peninsula Recreation Area from a variety of major development attempts, and have succeeded.There is nothing new here. Frisco citizens simply want to continue the process of having a vote before the sale of community land, and we dont want our future parceled off by loopholes.Lets make sure were on board before the bulldozers are called in. Our last parcels of community-owned land deserve serious consideration and a consensus of our citizens. We owe that to future generations, who will likely judge our efforts based more on what we preserve than on what we develop.We urge you to vote yes on this Aprils Frisco Right-to-Vote ballot question.Visit: http://www.FriendofFriscoOpenSpaces.orgQuestions: FriendsofFrisco@gmail.com.
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