The City of Lubbock won't be trading land with the City of Wolfforth anytime soon. On Thursday, Lubbock City Council denied a land swap between the two cities that would have paved the way for more development in Wolfforth.
Wolfforth wanted to build new homes on 600 acres just north of the Frenship High School football stadium. But because Wolfforth only controls half of that land, they were trying to make a deal with Lubbock for the other half. A deal that was denied.
City council voted 4 to 3 opposing the deal. The vote came after LISD Superintendent Jack Clemmons told the city council that any development outside the LISD had the potential to cause flight from his school district. In this case, Clemmons urged the council to keep LISD's interests in mind when making a decision.
"Any developments outside this district are concerns that I have, but I can't tell builders not to build outside this community. Well, on this particular issue, the council does have the power to stop or delay the building outside this district," says Dr. Clemmons. Clemmons says the deal could have decreased LISD's already shrinking student population. He says he's not anti-growth, but rather paid to fight for what's in the best interest of LISD.
The issue was sensitive even before Clemmons' presentation. All 600 acres are within the Frenship School District, but only half of the land is controlled by Wolfforth. The land can't be developed without being annexed by a city for water and sewer service.
Releasing the land to Wolfforth would have been simple for Lubbock, but maybe not sensible, because it would have meant losing future taxable property. So, Lubbock entertained the idea of trading its half for another piece of land in return.
But now that deal is off the table. Lubbock denied the deal, perhaps because it would have meant more parents and students leaving LISD for new homes in the Frenship district. The City of Wolfforth can't make sense of this decision. They say it's not neighborly, it stunts their growth, and it contradicts Lubbock's effort to advance regionalism and promote urban sprawl.
"The City of Lubbock decided to advance its own interests at the expense of its smaller neighbor. And at the same time, decided to choose one school district within its boundaries over another school district which is also within its boundaries," says Wolfforth City Attorney Jean Shotts.
Wolfforth says the City of Lubbock should not be in the business of stopping growth in any direction. Wolfforth Mayor L.C. Childers says this turned out to be a lose-lose situation for both cities. "The LISD got involved, and that's what stopped the whole thing," says Childers.
"You pretty well dashed the hopes and dreams of the City of Wolfforth. Like most West Texas cities, it's struggling to survive, and the city council, by its actions, has made that struggle more difficult," says Childers.
The Council's vote was 4 to 3 on this issue. The four who denied it were Tom Martin, T.J. Patterson, Gary Boren, and Victor Hernandez. The three who favored the deal were Mayor Marc McDougal, Alex Cook, and Frank Morrison.