Commissioners discuss, take no action on subdivision regulation agreement in Copperas Cove’s ETJ

Cove Leader-Press

The Coryell County Commissioners heard an update from the County Attorney on Tuesday morning about recent discussions between the county and the city of Copperas Cove regarding the interlocal agreement for the regulation of subdivisions in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. 
The item on the agenda had been to consider to amend or terminate the agreement, but following the update from County Attorney Brandon Belt, the commissioners took no action. The agreement was signed in 2009 by then Mayor John Hull and then County Judge John Firth. 
During the Commissioners Court meeting on August 24, 2021, Belt shared that he wanted to see a place where all of the information was in one place. He said he can piece together a legal description by looking at the plat, deed records and the Coryell Central Appraisal District’s website, but he doesn’t have a program to put that information in to plot out what it looks like. 
Something that would have the information on the subdivisions, floodplain, permits, road closures, access issues and “all of the things that we get called about on a daily basis,” Belt said. “It would be helpful if we had a program because calling somebody, whether it ben an engineer, surveyor, whoever to try to figure that out for us is impractical. We get no response. Commissioners Court authorized an expenditure of $5,000 years ago to get somebody to plat an area of the county for us where some defunct subdivisions came together, and it still has not been done and will never get done. Just a fact. If we had a program, we’d have it done long before now, so we’re going to find one- we’ll be back with that.”
Road and Bridge Director Justin Latham spoke during that meeting as well and suggested that the county should look at the agreement with Copperas Cove and either amend it or resolve it. 
“The road design criteria- the engineers get confused,” Latham said. “They call us, and we don’t even know. We tell them they do ours, they do Cove’s. I kind of feel like it would be in the best interest for the county that we just take over our subdivisions where they’re not attached to those sewer and water in the city, and we’re inspecting them.” 
Belt met with City Manager Ryan Haverlah and the city’s Public Works Director Scott Osburn last week regarding the agreement and said it went well. 
“They both agree with us that moving forward, based on the current annexation statues and the way things are going to be for an extended period of time, that they don’t have any business worrying about the ETJ unless it’s something that is going to be connected to their water and sewer, unless it’s something that’s going to be subject to an agree to annexation plan,” Belt said. “They also agreed with me and the judge that we need to have a master development plan between the county and the city to talk about roads, drainage, the design and implementation of thoroughfares in the future, where they’re going to be at, making arrangements for what right of way we can when we get an opportunity to and working together on that.” 
Belt said he has drafted an amended ETJ agreement and that the city manager told him he will pass that amended agreement to the city attorney for review and then present the matter for discussion at a councilmember retreat coming up later in November. 
“I think we’re on the same page now moving forward,” Belt said. “I think that it would okay to let the city manager present that to the council at the fall retreat and work on these- whatever you want to call them- these comprehensive plans for drainage and roadways and infrastructure type stuff.”
Belt mentioned some of the recent and upcoming developments, like the Perkins Mountain Addition Subdivision, off of the corner of Lutheran Church Road and Twin Mountain and another at the end of Hempel and about the water that is coming from the city to the ETJ and vice versa. 
“They have the capacity to map that and let their GIS (geographic information system) department kind of take the lead on developing a plan for facilitating the discussion about that moving forward,” Belt said. 
Regarding the roads, Belt said the discussion also covered “roads that don’t go anywhere they need to, and some roads that go somewhere and are getting overwhelmed because of it and tying some of those together and getting somebody with more transportation vision to look at some of that and formulate a long term plan because there is a lot of stuff coming right up there in that little spot, and there is limited ways in and out of there.”
Commissioner Kyle Matthews is the one who wanted the item placed on the agenda following discussions during previous Commissioners’ Court meetings. He said his concern was because in the past, the city had been talking one minute and doing the next. He later added that they hadn’t been communicating with the county. 
Belt said that the public works director understands the county’s concerns. 
“To be honest, I think he’s the reason that we’re at this point, because I think, you know Ryan trusted in him and they’re having some good conversations about it,” Belt said. 
The city’s draft of the agreement will be given to the county by mid-October, with a presentation at the council retreat in November with hopes of approving the agreement by the first council meeting in December.

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