Critical issues discussed  at county public meeting

Due to the population growth in Comanche County in the last few years, it has come to the attention of both citizens and local leaders of the need to regulate that growth and trends that will shape the county in the future. The recent population growth is a result of not only retiring city dwellers seeking country living, but the growth of technology that allows people to do their jobs from the comfort of their own homes.

Planning is necessary in order to protect the infrastructure of the county, particularly the roads, highways, water supply, land use, housing, environment and power sources, including wind and solar. All these are important and needed for quality of life and economic growth.

The Comanche County Commissioners Court, as well as approximately 25-30 citizens and county officials met in the District Courtroom on Monday, April 28, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. After regular preliminary action taken by the Court, first on the agenda was a presentation by Texas A&M faculty and students via live stream regarding the County’s long-range Comprehensive Plan. The plan will include input from the early surveys from county residents, as well as input from the A&M group. (All country residents are urged to complete the survey and send in by April 30. These surveys will be the basis for the long-range guidebook. They are available at The Comanche Chief, the Chamber of Commerce and the Courthouse.) Judge Stephanie Davis said that community feedback is vital to the success of the planning and is urging citizens take a few minutes to write down what they see as needs in the county.

The next meeting with the A&M group will be concerning housing and economic development.

District Judge Craig Willingham opened the Special Meeting stating the need for the county to create a new, updated sub-division development regulatory plan that will protect both newcomers and reduce the impact to local citizens in both towns and rural areas. A good, well thought-out plan will help manage the growth in the county. Surveys by water engineers and HOAs (Home Owners Associations) are particularly important.

From the statements made by those in the audience, it was clear that most are concerned about the use and protection of the county’s groundwater. The County now has the power to regulate that use through several entities, including the Middle Trinity Water District. Judge Willingham stated, “Developers must have a water engineer say that there is sufficient water for their sub-division.” Judge Terry McCall made a very informative presentation on the importance of protecting the county’s groundwater, as well as what the county should do to go about protecting that water supply. Long-time county realtor, Robert Merworth stated that water is necessary for the economic and well-being of the county’s residents. He added, “I’ve found that when a newcomer looking to purchase real estate, one of the first things they ask is there sufficient water in Comanche County.”

The Commissioners Court voted unanimously to draft a new subdivision regulation plan in order to protect the county’s groundwater and infrastructure due to population growth and sub-division development. Commissioner Sherman Sides made the motion, seconded by Russell Gillette. Judge Davis said that some people get a little “nervous and squeamish” when it comes to the word “regulation,” but it is necessary to lessen the impact of population growth in the county.

After a short break at the meeting, two solar energy companies made presentations. Many in attendance remained to hear the presentations. As a result, the Commissioners as well as some of the citizens in attendance voiced concerns about the construction phase of these companies and its impact on county road conditions. Both companies reported that the road conditions would be as “good or better’ of the solar farm is completed. Others voiced concerns about the impact on the environment and the aesthetic beauty of the countryside. The two companies are Hecate Energy and Core Solar.

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