Beloved and known for its rural character and peaceful tracks, northeast Denton has become a recreational area for bikers and community members but is now in the middle of city council debates.
Northeast Denton is a rural area with unique outdoor zones, such as Hartlee Field and the Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center. In 2018, Carter Ranch was purchased by Taylor Morrison, a home construction company, with hopes of being developed into a rental home community. Their plan was to build 1,372 homes but the plan fell through. The area is now owned by Orion and Nanban Real Estate Investments, an international investment fund, and they plan to build between 1,300 and 1,800 homes in the area.
Community members have expressed their concerns since the initial sale of the property. The Friends of Northeast Denton have led the movement to preserve this area and according to their website, they are an informal or unofficial group of citizens that hope to preserve the rural aspects of northeast Denton.
“My parents live right across the street from the property,” Anne Beckmann, Denton native and Friend of Northeast Denton, said. “Other than the fact that this development would greatly affect the nature and the wildlife out there because it is right next to Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center, it will directly affect everyone that lives out there because of the amount of traffic that will be added if all these 1,500, 1,800 homes are built on that property. It would expand the rural Hartlee Field Road, which is a rural two-lane road, to a six-lane kind of highway system. We are talking about a major change from the rural character that is and has been.”
On January 24, 2023, the Denton City Council approved a steering committee to have input on the development plans. The steering committee consists of local experts and Denton residents who have a deep understanding of the history and characteristics of the area planned to be developed. The members of the committee range from a bicyclist to a historic landmark commissioner, and the goal of the committee is to represent the various people who will be affected by the development.
The Friends of Northeast Denton have also organized demonstrations and spoken at city council meetings. Their demonstrations have consisted of bicyclists coming together and riding from the Denton Courthouse to the Hartlee Field Road area. The bicyclists circled back to the Denton Courthouse and ended with a small protest.
“The bike ride was a way to get all of the riders that are out there every week in that area of Northeast Denton because it is such a beautiful ride and you don’t have to worry about cars,” Beckmann said. “It has always been a famous area for bike riders and I said ‘We have to do a bike ride so all these people that don’t live out here but love the area for what it is can raise awareness.’”
During City Council meetings, the Friends of Northeast Denton take advantage of the Open Mic portion of meetings to bring their concerns forward. The Open Mic portion allows for seven Denton residents to express their concerns or make suggestions at the monthly meeting. The Friends of Northeast Denton and its supporters wear red to city council meetings to express their disagreement with the development.
“This whole process [of approving the development] has consisted of different workshops and activities involving citizens to vote on ideas that the city and developers,” Beckmann said. “Vote to say yes I want this or no I don’t want this, so that is why we wear the red shirts. Because at least one of these workshops the city put posters for the different plans, for example high density housing, the citizens were supposed to put red stickers if they did not want high density housing in that area or green stickers if they did. The community put red stickers and the red shirts are a reminder”
Beckmann said that she feels like the movement is being ignored and said she noticed Denton Mayor Gerard Hudspeth not paying attention to the Friends of Northeast Denton speakers. She urges young people to get involved and learn about what is going on by following the Save Northeast Denton Instagram.
Featured image credit: Juan Betancourt / DRC
Karyme Flores can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org