As a long-time resident of Farmers Branch I am concerned about the direction our current leadership is taking us.

The Farmer’s Branch City Council claims that the intensely restrictive Code of Ordinances was written for our Health, Safety, and Welfare …… that rigorous control of every aspect of a citizen’s home is  “Proactive” and “Innovative” …  and for our own well-being.

While there is no question that the members of a community should be bound by certain rules, the Farmers Branch ordinances far overreach what common sense and equability allow. No one wants to live next to someone whose home is unsafe, or creates a health hazard, or is bursting at the seams with people, or animals, or trash. That’s common sense. But does it hurt anybody if a neighbor has an empty flower-pot in his yard … or is one of those charming old folks who likes to decorate with little gnomes? Reasonable people would just smile at that homeowner’s “eccentricities”, or “character”‘.  At least that neighbor is not driving the streets knocking down mailboxes, or poisoning pets, or terrorising little kids. Chances are, that neighbor is the one who will help you out in a time of need. Besides, that sort of thing lends character to a community and shows its humanity. And it is totally harmless. 

We are a diverse community, and should be proud of our diversity. Instead, many people are forced to erect fortress-like walls around their yards to prevent prying eyes from snooping into their private living areas – and complaining about anything that they don’t like. As a result, we are rapidly becoming a community of strangers. Strangers hiding behind fences.

Do you really want to live like that …… in a city that encourages citizen-against-citizen behaviour; where your private property is under constant microscopic-level scrutiny; where you are forbidden to display even a modicum of individuality or creativity in your own back yard? 

  • Is that what makes a community desireable?
  • Is that what you look for when you’re shopping for a home?
  • Is that what makes a neighborhood “vibrant” and “park-like” and “friendly”?

I certainly don’t think so.  I feel like I purchased a pleasant home in Mayberry and now I’m living in Stepford horror. But Farmer’s Branch used to be a pleasant comfortable community. 

The City Council has made it a top priority to remake the entire city into their  idea of our city’s so-called brand: “The City in the Park”. In order to achieve that at a low cost they are enlisting every resident to take part in their Park-Building effort. And how are they doing that? By creating and vigorously enforcing some of the most oppressive residential codes ever devised, to include:

  • Forbidding “permeable” structures – essentially the appealing garden structures and gazebos that are in vogue today – the ones with fabric shades and curtains. Every fine gardening magazine in the country features these as outdoor living spaces – but in Farmer’s Branch they are forbidden.
  • Constant surveillance of resident’s private living areas – the city thinks it is fine to search alleys and easements in order to write citations for empty flower pots, wheelbarrows, restricted lawn furniture, and an extensive list of prohibited items stored in residential back yards: areas that should be private to the homeowner.
  • Limiting the amount and type of decorative item in Front Yards: whether it be statuary, flower pots, lawn furniture, the list goes on and on. You are allowed only 5 items or less – no matter the size of your yard, what the items are, or how attractive they may be.
  • Insisting that items be stored in storage buildings, yet restricting the amount, size, and even the architecture of those buildings: whether they are in public view or not. The aluminum storage buildings from Lowe’s or Home Depot are not acceptable in Farmer’s Branch.

What fulfills the City Council’s idea of the perfect setting? Sterile McMansions surrounded by fortress-like brick walls. Front yards for looks only – God Forbid anyone would really want to enjoy their own home.  No character, no individuality, no “Zing”.

Today they’re taking your yard ornaments; tomorrow they’ll be telling you what color to paint your home and what your landscaping should look like. What next? 

  • When did Community Service turn into Community Surveillance?
  • When did Code Compliance turn into Code Enforcement?
  • Why? 
    • Are we better off now than we were 5 years ago?
    • Do our citizens deserve to be treated like this?

In the middle of a worldwide financial crises, this bunch has decided to raise taxes so that they can purchase “distressed” properties and “improve” them. Is that what we need right now?:

  • Scattered and costly “improvements” to fulfill someone’s idea of what the city “needs”:
    • A new logo
    • Painted electrical utility boxes
    • New street signs and posts
    • Purchasing “distressed” properties
    • Useless fountains in Pocket Parks that are not accessible to the public. (Look – but don’t touch.)
    • High maintenance gardens with limited accessibility. 
    • Walls, walls, and more walls. (Soon, driving down Webb’s Chapel will seem like driving in a canyon.)

Are they pretty? Why yes, most of them are – but is it the best use of our money, especially in the current economic market? Consider that:

  • People lost their jobs so that The City could “afford” these things.
  • Our Property Taxes were Increased so that The City could “afford” these things.
  • Our Services were Diminished or Eliminated so that The City could “afford” these things.
    • Fewer trash bags
    • Discontinued mosquito spraying
    • Reduction in Children’s activities

And who is footing the bill? We are!

Please pass this blog address on to your friends and neighbors. It’s time to take a stand:

Together we can restore the community-based, friendly small-town atmosphere that prompted us to move here in the first place .

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