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Residents will protest development in NE Denton at community-organized bike rally

A yellow sign next to a paved trail reads "Say NO to the City of Denton." Another sign is next to it and it reads, "SAVE Hartlee Field and Northeast Denton."
Juan Betancourt
Near Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center, signs show opposition to a proposal to widen Collins Road and point toward and Friends of Northeast Denton’s Facebook group.

The City Hall Ride for Northeast Denton will take off Saturday morning with a bike ride from the Square to Hartlee Field Road in northeast Denton for a scenic tour to showcase why residents are trying to save it from developers.

Organized by concerned residents, cyclists will meet at 7:45 a.m. Saturday at the northeast corner of the Courthouse on the Square and begin their ride.

A peaceful protest will follow around 10 a.m. after the group returns to the Courthouse on the Square to raise awareness about a plan being developed by the city to bring multifamily development to an area known for its ecology, floodplains and the Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center.

Another bike ride and protest will follow at 5:45 p.m. next Tuesday, Sept. 19, when cyclists will meet on the northeast corner of the courthouse and ride to City Hall to speak during the public comment portion of the Denton City Council meeting.

Maps of two routes are shown for a bike ride rally.
Anne Beckmann
Left: The City Hall Ride for Northeast Denton will take off Saturday morning, Sept. 19, with a bike ride from the northeast corner of the Courthouse on the Square to Hartlee Field Road in northeast Denton for a scenic tour to showcase why residents are trying to save it from developers. Right: Cyclists will return from Hartlee Field Road to the Square in their ride on Saturday morning, Sept. 19. 

The cyclists plan to wear red T-shirts with the words “Save Northeast Denton” on the back. The red shirts represent the red dots that community members placed on images of a multifamily development to indicate that they didn’t want such projects in the area during an exercise at two vision meetings earlier this year.

“The more of us that show up to this meeting the better!” reads a flyer promoting this weekend’s event. “Every red shirt will show City Council that the people are in opposition to current development plans.”

Between 20 and 30 cyclists are expected to participate, said Anne Beckmann, a northeast Denton resident and organizer of the rides.

But Beckmann stressed that you don’t need to be a cyclist to show up at the protest on Saturday morning or the one shortly before Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

“It’s just basically to raise awareness and make a statement,” Beckmann said. “All these cyclists are passionate about the area. We want to make more people aware of it.”

Some of that awareness relates to which parts of northeast Denton the city has control over. There is a small portion of unincorporated Denton County land in what looks like a doughnut hole on the map, surrounded by city land and Denton’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. The land within Denton city limits includes properties such as Hartlee Field Ranch, which a company is hoping to develop.

In early August, community members also wore red shirts to the Aug. 15 council meeting when they showed up en masse to voice their displeasure with council’s decision to move forward with a plan for northeast Denton that could bring multifamily housing to the area if the zoning is changed.

Anne Beckmann

The Denton City Council will be discussing the Northeast Denton Area Plan again at a joint meeting with the Planning & Zoning Commission in October.

In early August, the council directed city staff to move forward with developing a plan that would allow for properties like Hartlee Field Ranch, also known as Carter Ranch, to become zoned for multifamily housing.

Orion & Nanban, a Dallas investment firm known for multifamily housing, recently purchased the old Hartlee Field property for development.

A sign posted along a nearby fence reads “Say NO to Orion & Nanban apartments.”

Another sign reads: “Say NO to the City of Denton. Denton wants to add 15,000-25,000 cars per day on the road. Denton wants to WIDEN ROAD to 110’, add 4 lanes, divided road. Denton wants to INCREASE TRAFFIC SPEEDS on Collins Road. This will increase TRAFFIC NOISE in the Nature Preserve. Wildlife will become ROADKILL.”

During a webinar with investors last September, Orion & Nanban Chief Finance Officer Shivesh Gowda told investors that Hartlee Field Ranch had the potential to become a 1,300- to 1,800-unit master-planned community and said the city was excited to work with them on the project “because they have a plan.”

It’s unclear what that plan is currently since the city claims it’s still being developed.

In early August, the Denton Record-Chronicle contacted Orion & Nanban for more information about the plan and the project. Orion & Nanban Realty’s Vice President of Investor Relations Ragu Su said that they were focused on other projects at the moment and declined to discuss it.

Beckmann and other northeast Denton residents, who live in city limits and in the area in extraterritorial jurisdiction, claimed that the current plan being developed by city staff “completely ignores community desire.”

“It’s going to destroy the essence of this area,” Beckmann said. “Anybody who says that that plan is a good plan doesn’t know this area personally, and they just don’t understand how it would change it and how it is a special area to those who have been coming to Clear Creek and bike riding and residents who live here.

“People who have experienced this area understand why it is a bad plan. This area is not meant for the type of traffic that this development [Hartlee Field Ranch] will bring to the area.”

CHRISTIAN McPHATE can be reached at 940-220-4299 and