FORNEY, Texas — The Forney City Council on Tuesday night approved plans for a proposed Raising Cane’s at the southeast intersection of U.S. Highway 80 and Farm-to-Market (FM) 548.
The approval, however, came with conditions the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) revert to its original approval of a traffic impact analysis study which allowed for a left-turn deceleration lane on southbound FM 548 and a right-turn deceleration lane on the eastbound U.S. Highway 80 service road.
The proposed site location was originally purchased by the City of Forney in 2015 for the purposes of conveying the land to the Forney Economic Development Corporation for its ultimate development for commercial use. A deal was struck with Leon Capital Group to develop the property for two restaurant pad sites. Leon Capital Group, at the request of the City of Forney, sought and obtained leases from Raising Cane’s and Taco Cabana.
In May 2016, TxDOT reviewed the traffic impact analysis study for the proposed development and stated the access spacing is adequate for posted speeds of 40 to 45 miles per hours and allowed the left-turn deceleration lane on southbound FM 548 and a right-turn deceleration lane on the eastbound U.S. Highway 80 service road.
During the August 2, 2016, city council meeting, Raising Cane’s, prepared to begin construction, sought approval of their preliminary plat, final plat, and site plan. The council, in a 6-1 vote with Council member Robbie Powers absent, voted to deny the plans citing traffic safety concerns and requested a reassessment of TxDOT’s approval of the proposed access points.
On August 5, 2016, TxDOT, at the request of the council, reanalyzed the traffic impact analysis study and reaffirmed their May 2016 findings.
At their August 16, 2016, council meeting, the council voted to reconsider their previous vote and, instead of voting to deny the plans, voted to table the preliminary plat, final plat, and site plan.
Then, at their September 6, 2016, meeting, the city council voted 7-0 to indefinitely table the preliminary plat, final plat, and site plan.
On September 19, 2016, again at the request of the City of Forney, TxDOT reanalyzed the traffic impact analysis study and, “as a result of the concerns raised by the City of Forney,” TxDOT denied the the two access points it had on two other previous occasions approved.
Tuesday night’s 6-1 vote by the council, with Mayor Rick Wilson opposed, approved the preliminary plat, final plat, and site plan for Raising Cane’s contingent upon TxDOT reverting back to its original ruling on the matter — for a left-turn deceleration lane on southbound FM 548 and a right-turn deceleration lane on the eastbound U.S. Highway 80 service road. The council also unanimously approved a letter to TxDOT requesting they revert back to that original ruling.
Discussion on the item began with Wilson stating an agreement was made up front restricting left turns in or out of the development.
“We did have an agreement through an RFP that we would not have any left-hand turns out of that location, that we agreed to up front,” Wilson said. “Is that correct?”
“No mayor, technically that’s not correct,” Leon Capital Group Managing Director Will Tolliver answered.
Tolliver compared the request for proposals (RFP) to a job wanted ad and stated the purchase and sale agreement between Leon Capital Group and the City of Forney had no condition of sale, no deed restrictions, or any language restricting the access to the site.
Raising Cane’s was slated for a January 2017 opening, had it been allowed to proceed as originally planned, according to Raising Cane’s Director of Property Development Robert Montgomery who also spoke to the council on Tuesday night.
Tomorrow, the City of Forney and TxDOT are schedule to meet and discuss, among other things, the council’s Tuesday night vote on Raising Cane’s and their approved letter requesting consideration, according to Assistant City Manager Wendle Medford.
A new traffic impact analysis study may also be required before the project moves forward.
In other restaurant news, Bush’s Chicken, located at 590 South FM 548, has announced their opening date for Thursday, December 14, 2017.
Correction: The article originally stated Wilson also voted against the letter to TxDOT requesting they revert back to their original acceptance of the traffic impact analysis. It has been corrected to reflect a unanimous vote by the council. The record vote was confirmed with City of Forney Secretary Dorothy Brooks.