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Texas residents win land battle against developers who wanted to turn historic 19th-century farmhouse into shopping center

Residents of a small town outside of Dallas forced a developer to abandon plans to destroy lush farmland in their community and turn it into a shopping mall.

The Haggards, one of Plano’s most notable families, own the 13.5-acre portion of the farm they wanted to turn into a Sprouts grocery store, retail space and about 33 townhomes.

The Fairview Farm Land Company, run by a member of the Haggard family, appealed to the city of Plano to rezone this land so the new development could move forward.

But owners rallied against the idea, sending hundreds of messages of opposition to Plano officials, NBC Dallas Fort Worth reported.

The 13.5-acre portion of the Haggard Farm that was to be transformed into a Sprouts grocery store, retail space and approximately 33 townhomes

The 13.5-acre portion of the Haggard Farm that was to be transformed into a Sprouts grocery store, retail space and approximately 33 townhomes

All the pressure from residents seemed to force Fairview Farm Land Company’s hand, and in a shock move, it sent a request to the city asking it to withdraw its rezoning request.

“While we hoped our proposed development would be seen as a positive addition, it is clear that is not the case and we do not want to pursue something that does not have the full support of the community.” Thank you for your consideration,” the company wrote by proxy.

The Plano Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to grant the request, rendering the proposed shopping center dead in the water.

“It’s such a residential neighborhood that we wanted to keep it that way,” said Sara Stettler, a resident who owns a home near the Haggard farm.

“We have a lot of empty malls, so we didn’t feel like there was a need to build them here,” she added.

Sara Stettler, pictured, was against the new use of the land, preferring that it remain residential.

Sara Stettler, pictured, was against the new use of the land, preferring that it remain residential.

Christina Day, Plano’s planning director, said it’s not typical for a developer – in this case the Haggard family – to invest time and resources, to get this far in the process of approval and abruptly withdraw.

“It’s not uncommon but it’s rare,” Day said.

“That doesn’t mean they can’t present a new case at some point,” she added.

The 13.5-acre area is already zoned for single-family homes or townhomes, but not retail, meaning the Haggards could move forward with a revised residential-only proposal.

Over the years, the Haggard family sold or developed plots of undeveloped land.

The developers backed down and said the project would not move forward without the full support of the community.

The developers folded and said the project would not move forward without the full support of the community.

In 2021, the City Council approved a massive new mixed-use development on 124 acres of Haggard farmland on the east side of the Dallas North Turnpike.

Construction is well underway and the new area will include a hotel, restaurant, commercial buildings and housing, NBC Dallas Fort Worth reported at the time.

Day acknowledged that despite the 2021 approval, which also sparked massive community opposition, the city has implemented policies aimed at preventing retail stores from popping up and overwhelming the area.

“We’ve had policies for a long time to limit retail zoning and development where possible in the city and that’s because we realize we have three times the national average of retail,” said Day.

Stettler urged his fellow citizens to continue organizing, as future developments altering the character of Plano are not out of the question.

“If something isn’t right for Plano, then we need to make our voice heard, and in that regard it worked, so we’re really happy that they listened,” Stettler said.

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