AZLE — A major eyesore on Azle’s landscape has been generating talk and buzz since the lot was cleared three years ago. Once covered with trees, a large stretch of land across from Walmart on Boyd Road has sat deforested but still largely undeveloped since at least 2021.
Not long after the trees were cleared, heavy rains brought flooding and mud to nearby homes on Timberoaks Drive, resulting in damages, Azle City Manager Tom Muir said in a phone call with the Tri-County Reporter. A retaining wall was constructed by at least the spring of 2022 in order to prevent future flooding. The area is intended to hold around eight subdivided commercial lots. Many Azle residents have heard rumors of a Wendy’s or Panda Express in the works, but that has yet to manifest, city officials have said. By the end of summer 2023, a uniform 8-foot screening wall had also been finished in compliance with prior building agreements and city ordinances, yet a lot still needs to be done in order to address drainage problems and protection for residents, Muir explained.
“The retaining wall was always part of the plan but wasn’t done quick enough,” Muir said. “The screening wall was a more recent thing and that went up a couple of months ago, and there’s other issues as far as getting the final engineer set of plans. There’re other things we can’t reconcile. They’re trying to pull those plans together and get them to us. We’ve received some and our engineers are reviewing them. Until we get satisfaction with that I can’t see when I’ll turn loose a building permit. There’s been some progress but not a whole lot.”
The property was purchased by Gary Shelton through GMS Reo, LP who had hoped to develop it for a future Wendy’s restaurant, Muir explained. The lot’s Chapter 380 Economic Development Agreement expired in November. The developer has yet to send in offsite drainage plans and complete the property’s retention pond. Cannot issue permits. Because the developer has not submitted their engineering plans to the city, Muir states that they do not know what all has been done. The city has been contacted by potential tenants for the developments who have not received feedback from Shelton. Shelton has not responded to a request for comment by the Tri-County Reporter.
“It’s really sad to hear,” Director of Planning and Development David Hawkins said.
According to Hawkins, Wendy’s permits were issued quite some time ago and last month they speculated they may be “pulling the plug” on the project.
“In more recent conversations, the developer has expressed interest in pursuing other ventures due to a lack of commitment from Wendy’s,” Muir said. “Panda Express has been mentioned. It’s taken so long for these guys to get the property where they can build on it. It’s been almost two years since they’ve been trying to build on that thing… It’s a unique way of doing business.”
The property owner is required to finish setting up a drainage system and add sod and other certified vegetation to the property’s retention pond. Without the proper additions, Muir worries that heavy rain could cause the pond’s sand to create another problem with runoff.