It may be a quality development, but Newland’s latest proposal still does not meet Rockwall development standards.

“Our requirements, quite frankly, have not been met,” Councilman John King said at Monday’s meeting. “I just cannot support this when I look at the consequences.”

After six months of work between city staff and Newland Communities Development, the City Council considered the developer’s request to rezone 395.08 acres near Texas 205 and Farm-to-Market Road 552 as a planned development. The request was unanimously denied.

The council also rejected a development agreement for another 405 acres to the north just outside the city limits, but within Rockwall’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. The property is the subject of an annexation lawsuit pending before the Texas Supreme Court. Arguments begin Wednesday.

The Planning and Zoning Commission denied Newland’s original request in July. The proposal had an average of 3.7 homes per acre, less than the required 20 percent of open space, lacked alleys, allowed front-entry garages and would increase traffic on already congested roadways.

The City Council took no action then. The issue was tabled to allow Newland time to rework the plan.

According to Rockwall’s land use plan, the tract inside the city should have fewer than three homes per acre. The future land use plan shows the area outside the city limits with less than two units per acre.

Newland’s latest proposal removed a controversial mixed use area and high-density townhomes. An 80,000-square-foot retail site would be limited to a grocery store. The number of homes was cut from 1,381 to 1,110 inside the city for 2.98 units per acre, and the outer tract dropped from 1,210 to 1,100 homes for 2.75 units per acre.

Lot sizes would vary from 6,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet, with an average of 7,300. A home would have to have at least 1,800 square feet of air conditioned space. Any garages facing the street — about 40 percent of the homes had no alleyways — would need 8-foot doors with intervening columns.

The proposal would increase the number of homes in Rockwall by 25 percent, Councilman Matt Scott said.

“This is just home after home after home after home,” he said. “You’re talking about adding 25 percent to our home stock in an area that’s served right now by one two-lane road. There’s no grocery store up there. There’s no bank. There’s nothing.”

Other features included street landscaping, 50-foot landscape buffers on Texas 205 and the bypass, 10-foot buffers on other roadways, fencing requirements, buried utilities, 18.5 percent open space between both tracts and plans for parks, open spaces and trails.

“This is not just the next deal. This is the next Newland Communities master planned community,” said Miles Prestemon, senior vice president with Newland. “This is very high on our list in concentration.”

The comprehensive plan calls for a variety of housing styles, Planning and Zoning Director Robert LaCroix said. It also calls for developers to look to surrounding areas for direction in zoning. Surrounding development is largely open, with lots of several acres on most sides. The Shores, which has lots of varying sizes, lies to the west.

“There are no really larger lots in this plan,” LaCroix said.

The proposed development agreement would allow the city a measure of control over the land in the ETJ, which it normally doesn’t have. It would be a binding agreement between the city and developer and would govern zoning on the property even after annexation. The plan was to develop the property largely the same as the other half of the community that lies in Rockwall.

“The development agreement by its terms keeps the property out of the city,” said Terry Morgan, an attorney representing Rockwall in this case. “The court decision will actually govern the terms and manner in which annexation takes place.”

The proposed development might not meet all the requirements in the comprehensive land use plan, Prestemon said, but it hit on all the “cornerstones.”

“We look at the architecture in Rockwall,” Prestemon said. His presentation included photos of buildings downtown. “I think we can enhance that and embellish that.”

Although they have been a point of contention, the buffer zones were important, because they mark the “front door” to the proposed development, Prestemon said.

Residents didn’t buy it. The density was still too high, and traffic was a concern.

“That was a great talk, but smaller lot size is going to lower the quality of life,” Robert Hazel said. He warned against granting variances to this developer. That could set a precedent for future developments. “It’s called a slippery slope, and it really exists.”

Kerry Mason pointed to the deliberations in July.

“It was pretty cut and dried,” he said. “They didn’t meet code then, and they don’t meet code now.”

Don French said the standards in Rockwall’s plans and ordinances are minimums, and Newland didn’t come close to meeting those.

“Why can’t they just meet the minimum standards?” he said. “It’s like it’s a slap back at Rockwall in general. ‘We don’t care what you say. This is what we want to do.’”

Rick Dirkse gave the developer a “failing” grade on every point from density to matching surrounding zoning.

“I do not connotate the quality of life with the quantity of land you live on,” Prestemon said. “Guidelines are meant to be guidelines... . Sometimes common sense must prevail.”

The denial is “with prejudice,” meaning Newland cannot bring back the proposal for at least a year. To be considered before that, the plan must be significantly different.

“This is our town,” Councilman Tim McCallum said. “We have a vision for our town. When you meet that vision, we’ll be glad to approve it.”