Oncor Substation in Frisco

I’ve been asked several times in multiple places about my stance on the matter of the possible Legacy substation.

As previously stated, on Facebook and in public meetings, I share many of the same concerns as our residents, and I have asked City Planning to seek alternate sites. As I indicated at Tuesday’s meeting, I’m not in favor of this request given the available information. In fact, all of the commissioners were unanimous in wanting to know more about alternative locations.

As a City Council representative, I would be proactively seeking the right solution long before it is time for a vote. As explained below, P&Z Commissioners are not apprised of cases before to the 72 hours prior to the meeting.

It’s important to understand the process by which a case is seen by P&Z Commission. When an applicant submits a request, our Development Services Department (City staff) reviews it for a variety of technical issues, as well as compliance with our comprehensive plan. Some cases can take months, or years, to work out the details and diligence to bring it into compliance with our ordinances and with the spirit and intent of our comprehensive plan. Some may only take a few weeks, and some requests may get withdrawn prior to ever being seen by the Commission.

Once sufficient information is in hand, the case will be placed on the agenda and is advertised for a public hearing. The Friday before the Commission meeting, a packet is posted to the City website with the agenda and supporting documentation for all items. The Commission members see the same information, and at the exact same time, the public does. This is by design, because the P&Z Commission is a litmus test of citizen perspective for the applicant’s case. Further, just because City staff recommends approval of a applicant, does not mean the Commission approves it.

In the instance of the possible Legacy substation, the case was placed on public agenda prior to all relevant facts and information being received. This is unusual, and was due to simple human error. But since a public hearing had been advertised, the Commission wanted to go ahead and hold the public hearing—to gather residents’ thoughts. The Commission then accepted staff’s request to take no action, since the application was not in a state to be approved or denied.

This will allow time for the actual facts of the case to be gathered. It will also allow for meetings to be held between the residents, Oncor, and City staff. I will be attending some of those as well. The fact that this may have been worked on for many months by Oncor or City staff before coming to the public’s attention has no bearing on the public comment portion of the item.

The public has always, and will always have public input into anything requiring re-zoning, or the Specific Use Permit (SUP) process. Substations require an SUP for a reason. The P&Z Commission (made up of Frisco residents) and ultimately City Council (made up of Frisco residents) have the ability to approve, deny or make changes to the requirements in any SUP submitted to us. This is all part of the normal public hearing process and is a critical part of government transparency.

This was exactly the type of public input the process is designed to solicit. I have spoken with City leaders and staff and requested the applicant seriously look at other potential sites. In the last week, I have personally proposed other options.

I have met and talked to many residents in this area, and will continue to talk to any resident that would like to speak with me. I have done so on every case, and with every resident that has ever requested to meet with me, over the last 5+ years.

Many are claiming a lack of transparency on this matter on behalf of P & Z Commissioners, and by City staff. I can say that those claims are either intentional electioneering or simply ignorance of the City process and how it works. It is easy to confuse “I didn’t get the information I wanted, when I wanted it” with “lack of transparency.” There are federal, state and local laws that regulate how planning and zoning process must be managed by a municipality, and Frisco is stalwart about following those rules—as I have always been as a Commissioner, and will continue to be as a Councilmember.