When I wrote my first column as Mayor of Heath, I shared that there were three areas we needed to focus on to have a positive impact upon our community.
The first is to “continue to improve our roads, trails, parks, public utilities and other infrastructure.” Simply put, to remain a first-class City, we must invest in the infrastructure and amenities that contribute to the high quality of life and strong property values we enjoy in Heath. I have previously written about some of the improvements we are making in this area, and will not restate them here. However, you can find a presentation about our Capital Improvement Plan here.
The second area of focus for our City is to “continue the high quality residential development that has been such an attraction to families living in Heath”. Heath was one of only 16 cities in Texas to be named a Scenic City in 2011. Since then, we have earned additional honors including:
- – 11th Best Dallas Suburb, D Magazine, June 2012
- – Best Overall Neighborhood in the Rockwall-Rowlett Area, Dallas Morning News, June 2013
- – Safest Neighborhood in the Rockwall-Rowlett Area, Dallas Morning News, March 2013
Stringent regulations and ordinances have enabled our City to receive these honors, and our commitment to high building standards will not waiver as premier neighborhoods such as Stoneleigh Phase 5, Heath Crossing and the Shores at Cedar Glen expand. We are also working with developers to ensure quality new developments including Heath Golf and Yacht Club, Woodbridge, McCrummen Estates and Sonterra Estates.
Remaining true to our vision for Heath is bringing results. Building permits for new single-family homes in Heath have increased 42% from Year-to-Date August 2012 to Year-to-Date August 2013! This positive trend not only expands our residential tax base with attractive housing, but brings new individuals and families who I hope will integrate into and participate in our community. Life is busy for all of us, but I encourage you to take time to give your new neighbors a warm Heath welcome.
Finally, we are “working hard to attract distinctive commercial development that will provide the convenience of local shopping to our citizens without altering the culture of our City.” Some of the factors that make Heath such an inviting and serene place to live bring some challenges when it comes to recruiting businesses.
As a low density community by design, our population will likely never reach that of other communities competing for new businesses. Further, we’re not located along a major highway. However, while these are factors that create challenges when trying to attract new businesses, both are reasons many of our residents cite for choosing Heath as their home.
However, our demographics are very attractive to quality businesses. Recent reports show that the average household income in Heath is $152,185. The median home sales value is $420,500 (Zillow), making it the 6th highest in North Texas. Our residents have attained high educational levels, with 55% holding a Bachelor’s Degree or higher compared to 26% statewide.
As the widening of FM 740 is completed, I am convinced that we will see an increased level of interest in our community for commercial development that will expand our tax base and help to keep our property taxes low. I want to thank my fellow City council members, City staff and our volunteers for their commitment, tenacity and creativity in this endeavor.
Specifically, I want to recognize the members of our EDC and MBC boards, and the members of the Planning and Zoning Commission, both of which play integral roles in future commercial development.
The EDC and MBC Boards are comprised of Alma Williams Howard, who has served since 1998 and is currently EDC and MBC president, Vicki Alexander, Dan Bobst, Councilmember Justin Holland, Tom Johnson, John Lohmiller and Cyndi Pitman.
The members of the Planning and Zoning Commission are John Main, Chairman, Joe Chamberlain, Steve McKimmey (a former City Councilman), Alex Thomas, Clinton Howie, Jason Ross and Krisha Brooks. These volunteers are working diligently to promote the strengths and our exceptional opportunities for businesses in Heath, while planning to ensure that we will be proud of our new developments, and their efforts are starting to show results.
A local resident has partnered with S.C. Equities, Inc. for a planned development for local retail at the northwest corner of FM 740 and FM 1140/Heathland Crossing. The Planning and Zoning Commission spent many hours reviewing and considering the developer’s request for a zoning change for the eight-acre property, and establishing stringent development standards for the Property. The zoning change requests were approved by City council at the September 24 City Council meeting, which sets the stage for attracting high quality retail development to serve our community.
I also want to give a special note of thanks to Dennis Conder who just recently resigned as Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission. Dennis has worked on P&Z since 2001, and has done a wonderful job leading P&Z.
The City of Heath is truly a community of great progress, and great promise. We are at the threshold of some major developments in our City, and serving as your Mayor at this time is both an honor and privilege that I take very seriously.
Please keep up with our progress at www.heathtx.com; read the newsletter that comes with your monthly utility bills; follow us on Facebook and Twitter; attend our council meetings; and always feel free to call or email me, any of your City council members or the City Staff.
Lorne O. Liechty
Mayor, City of Heath