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New Heath Mayor calls for more commercial development to provide more local shopping

HEATH – Newly-elected Heath Mayor Lorne Liechty says additional “distinctive commercial development” is needed within the city’s boundaries “which will provide the convenience of local shopping” without altering the culture of the city.

To make that happen, he said the City has tapped into the expertise of Paris Rutherford, whom he says is “one of the nation’s most respected community planners” to guide its commercial and retail development efforts.

The opinion was offered as part of a column he wrote recently for local news media (see below), in which he suggests the three main areas the City should focus on to have a major positive impact in the near future.

Continuing to improve infrastructure and residential development were also cited.

“The majority of our citizens supported the sale of beer and wine for off-premises consumption in the May 15 General Election,” he wrote. “This enhances our ability to attract high quality retail development which will serve to expand our tax base and keep our property taxes low.”

“In conjunction with the passage of this measure, our City Council has put ordinances in place to carefully control retail development and the location and development of businesses that will sell beer and wine.”

“We have also tapped into the expertise of one of the nation’s most respected community planners, Paris Rutherford, to guide our commercial and retail development efforts.”

In addition, he writes that the City needs to continue to improve its infrastructure – including roads, trails, parks and public utilities.

“Phase 1 of the FM 740 expansion is on schedule for completion this fall, and planning of Phase 2 has been initiated,” he wrote.  “As a part of this, we have worked to ensure this main corridor through our City has the sidewalks and pathways residents can enjoy for walking, biking and running.”

“Phase 2, extending from FM 740/1140 past City Hall to FM 1140, is expected to begin in 2013.  While the construction presents some temporary inconveniences, the end result will be well worth it!”

Heath should also “continue the high-quality residential development that has been such an attraction to families living in Heath.”

“Heath was one of only 16 cities in the state to be named a Scenic City last year,” he wrote. “Stringent regulations and ordinances enabled our City to receive this honor, and our commitment to high building standards will not waiver as premier neighborhoods such as Stoneleigh and Heath Crossing expand and we guide new development.”

“During the first eight months of this fiscal year, we have seen an uptick in new home construction in Heath, and we look forward to new projects to be developed in the future.  This new construction allows us to welcome new families who will be able to experience our quality of life and community spirit.”

He concludes be encouraging citizens to read the City website and additional communications to keep up with Heath happenings.

Following is his complete column as he wrote it:

Mayor’s Column
Lorne Liechty, City of Heath

The City of Heath is a community of great progress, and great promise.

We are at the threshold of some major developments in our City, and serving as your Mayor at this time is both an honor and privilege that I take very seriously.

While there are many things that we can do to make sure Heath remains a premier suburban community, I believe there are three areas to focus upon that will have a major positive impact on our City in the near future.

First, we need to continue to improve our roads, trails, parks, public utilities and other infrastructure.

Recently, we have made a lot of progress toward this goal.  The new elevated northern water tower is rapidly rising—and by the way, will proudly bear the Rockwall-Heath High School “H” and Hawk logo!

Phase 1 of the FM 740 expansion is on schedule for completion this fall, and planning of Phase 2 has been initiated.  As a part of this, we have worked to ensure this main corridor through our City has the sidewalks and pathways residents can enjoy for walking, biking and running.  Phase 2, extending from FM 740/1140 past City Hall to FM 1140, is expected to begin in 2013.  While the construction presents some temporary inconveniences, the end result will be well worth it.

We are also moving closer to our vision for a community that is connected by trails and paths as a result of the $1 million Safe Routes to School grant the City received.  Four routes have been identified, and we are expediting the process of hiring the design engineer and obtaining the necessary right of way so that the project can be put out for construction bids.

Your City Council has always taken a careful, proactive approach to growth and recently approved updating the Thoroughfare Plan component of the City’s Comprehensive Plan.  The study will analyze numerous issues including current school traffic patterns and the impact of the proposed Heath Golf and Yacht Club development.

Which brings me to the second area of focus for our City:  continuing the high quality residential development that has been such an attraction to families living in Heath.

Heath was one of only 16 cities in the state to be named a Scenic City last year.  Stringent regulations and ordinances enabled our City to receive this honor, and our commitment to high building standards will not waiver as premier neighborhoods such as Stoneleigh and Heath Crossing expand and we guide new development.

During the first eight months of this fiscal year, we have seen an uptick in new home construction in Heath, and we look forward to new projects to be developed in the future.  This new construction allows us to welcome new families who will be able to experience our quality of life and community spirit.  All of this is consistent with the commitment of our City Council to the goal of building a spectacular community that our citizens are proud to call their hometown.

Finally, we should work to attract distinctive commercial development, which will provide the convenience of local shopping to our citizens without altering the culture of our City.

The majority of our citizens supported the sale of beer and wine for off-premises consumption in the May 15 General Election.  This enhances our ability to attract high quality retail development which will serve to expand our tax base and keep our property taxes low.  In conjunction with the passage of this measure, our City Council has put ordinances in place to carefully control retail development and the location and development of businesses that will sell beer and wine.  We have also tapped into the expertise of one of the nation’s most respected community planners, Paris Rutherford, to guide our commercial and retail development efforts.

There’s much more to share, and I encourage you to keep up with your hometown at www.heathtx.com; read the newsletter that comes with your monthly utility bills; follow us on Facebook and Twitter; attend our council meetings when your schedule allows; and always feel free to call or email me, any of your City council members or the City Staff.  Your input is a key element of making Heath into the community that we want it to be.

Be sure to mark your calendar to participate in or attend one of my favorite events, Heath’s Annual Independence Day Parade on July 4, which will also celebrate our Heath Hawks 2012 State 4-A Baseball Champions! Some of the best times in our community are when we gather for important traditions like this patriotic celebration.  And that will never change.

Mayor Lorne Liechty
lliechty@heathtx.com

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