Local builders, developers gather for Copperas Cove luncheon

By BRITTANY FHOLER 
Cove Leader-Press 

Dozens of local builders and developers gathered for a luncheon at the Copperas Cove Civic Center to discuss residential and commercial growth in the city limits.  
The meal was sponsored by WBW Development. 
City Manager Ryan Haverlah welcomed the dozens of builders and developers and shared that the purpose of the luncheon was to listen to concerns and make sure all were informed of the city’s processes and ordinances that have been updated or passed, such as the subdivision regulations and the sign ordinance. 
“We definitely want to talk about future growth in Copperas Cove because you are the ones that are helping make that happen,” Haverlah said. “The city does not make things grow, but through our processes and through our relationship and coordination with you, that growth encouraged responsibly and in the best way that you see fit to happen and occur.”
Copperas Cove’s Developmental Services Director Bobby Lewis walked the attendees through how to navigate the city’s website and the different tools available regarding building and developing. 
One of the main tools available on the website are the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) interactive maps found under Developmental Services. Each of the five maps feature live data on the planning-zoning map, the public utility map, the city boundary map, the solid waste collection map and the new residential development map. 
Lewis also shared information on the city’s active residential developments. Since May 2018, Copperas Cove has approved 6,028 units among 24 subdivisions such as Creekside Hills Phases 1 through 3, Heartwood Park Phases 3 and 4 and more. Of those 24 subdivisions, six are more than 80 percent completed, while the rest are waiting for plats, permits and other reviews. 
These new units will add an estimated population of 16,155 to the city, according to Bobby Lewis. This information can now be found under the Planning Department tab on the city’s website. 
The city has averaged a growth rate of 12 percent in the last 10 years, but last year, it saw a growth rate of 2.3 percent, which was double the normal growth rate, according to Lewis. 
The city is also focused on the different zoning issues it currently faces, Lewis said. 
“When we went through the 2020-2021 Comprehensive Plan Update, we found there were 1,800 different properties that had two different kinds of land uses on it, so when we were able to get the adoption of that plan, we were able to look at all those elements and were able to kind of match up the land use and what the physical zone use was going on and what the physical traits of that particular property was happening,” Lewis said. “A lot of I think the kind of same thing with the zoning ordinance is kind of make it all one zone that makes sense to what the future development or what the development is right now. We have houses that have commercial zoning. We have no idea how they got there, why they got there.”
Pat Grace shared information about obtaining permits online for the different building projects. The city now utilizes MyGovernmentOnline as the customer portal for its permits, she said. 
There used to be one application for building projects, but now, there are 26 different applications on the site, with questions specific to the different trades. 
In 2020, the city received 2,207 permits for building projects. During the month of January 2021, the city received and approved 176 applications, according to Grace. 
Chief Building Official Chris Tucker shared information about the inspection scheduling and answered any questions about the inspection process. 
Jim Wright was one of the developers present and asked about whether there would be a forum for the subcontractors, with the builders/developers.
Tucker said that the city plans on holding future events like the builder/developer luncheon to hear feedback from these industry professionals about building and growth in the city. 
Tucker also shared that he expects the International Building Code to be updated this year and that those changes will be discussed. It is typically updated every three years and was last updated in 2015, according to Tucker. 
Wright said he thinks that cities should go through the International Building Code and make the code applicable to the city and make it work for the city’s best interests. 
He added that private sector input should be included in deciding what is in the code that the city adopts.
“The private sector needs to have a say-so as to what we do,” Wright said. “This code is not the Bible. It’s a compilation of professionals around the world who get together to come up and make the decisions as to what is being presented as code for local governments to make a decision to whether they want to adopt this. Sometimes there’s things in that code that are not germane to what we do in Copperas Cove.”
Wright added that private sector professionals should be included as the city goes line by line through the code. 
Haverlah said that he imagined this was something that city council will want to see happen, as evidenced by the sign ordinance and the subdivision regulations. 
Towards the end of the discussion, Councilmember Dan Yancey encouraged the builders and developers to continue providing input. 
“The number one reason why I ran for city council was because of our building or lack of building in Copperas Cove. We were missing opportunities right and left, making it too difficult,” Yancey said. “So, we’ve been working. I’ve been on it for five years now, and from where we were, we’ve made vast improvements, but the key is that we take this and we get really busy on really interfacing- not necessarily pointing fingers or anything- but understanding what the issues are so we can make this because my goal is to make Copperas Cove the best place to build in. It takes the city, it takes the city council but more importantly, it takes your input. It’s not going to help if you’re just griping but not trying to be a part of the solution. I think we can close that gap very quickly because from where we were five years ago, there’s just no comparison.”
Some of the attendees who were present at the luncheon include CNL Construction All Star Homes, DAT Properties, DPD Inc., DR Horton, JWC, Inc., Manning Homes, Maples & Associates, Mitchell & Associates, Turley Associates, WBW Development, Yalgo, LLC, and WRDC, Inc. 

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