By RUSSELL HUFFMAN
It was a full house times two as Stephenville officials were forced to host back-to-back public forums concerning an update to its thoroughfare plan, and it left a large majority of the estimated 280 people in attendance unsatisfied.
At least that was the feeling of the first group of citizens who were packed into the lecture hall of the Stephenville Ranger College campus Tuesday evening. The number of people clearly caught speakers from Freese and Nichols and city officials off guard, and it was noted it was a bigger turnout than the thoroughfare plan for the city of Fort Worth.
So many folks showed up the city ran out of comment forms and officials constantly reminded the second forum of how they could get forms, or how to submit information via email, letters or fax.
The lack of room left those attending the first forum less than satisfied as many people were expecting more information and some immediate answers to questions they had about when, why and where all this is all going to happen.
Mayor Kenny Weldon went on the offensive early in both forums explaining the plan is a living document looking at Stephenville’s needs into the far future, and not something that is going to happen in the near future. Weldon also asked for a show of hands of how many people were aware the city had a plan in place dating back to 2004 and noted there were not more than 10 people who raised their hands.
“The reason we are here tonight is to get people involved,” Weldon said. “This is part of the city’s comprehensive plan.”
Weldon went on to to explain when he looked at the 2004 plan he noted there were 20 houses and several ponds in a proposed loop.
“I said to myself this doesn’t work,” Weldon said. “Another important note here is that highway costs around $1 Million per mile and we can’t afford that.”
Nor is Stephenville looking at finding a way to come up with that kind of money, because when city officials say long-term plan they are looking at 20-30 years or more down the road. There has been very little construction of the potential roads, feeder streets and a loop that were part of the 2004 plan.
Freese and Nichols representatives Dan Sefko and David Paine outlined the major details and explained the needs of the city were being looked at far into the future. Both pointed out that the 2004 plan may have shown a loop intersecting through houses or buildings, but none of those properties have a roadway through them now.
That still didn’t do much to ease the worries of people attending the forums.
Resident Pete Martin commented he had just purchased 15 acres where he plans to build a home and the new plan shows a roadway running through it. Martin also noted the old plan runs through his current home.
One recurrent theme was how the plan might have an effect on property values and whether or not a seller would have to disclose Stephenville’s plan.
Some questions and answers about the thoroughfare plan are listed below:
Is this plan happening in the near future?
No. This is a long term plan with Stephenville having what is known as territorial jurisdiction to one mile outside its city limits.
Will Stephenville now be in control inside that plan area and be able to tell someone how to use their land?
No, the territorial jurisdiction is in regard to roads, plats and subdivisions. Developers will have to conform to those regulations, but construction permits, etc. would not be under Stephenville’s supervision.
Does this mean the Stephenville city limits are expanding?
No, the plan is for proposed roadways and this plan has nothing to do with expanding the city limits of Stephenville.
Is the city actually going to take comments into consideration?
Yes, all comments will become part of the public record. If you have a red line running through your property or home (or any other concern), the city wants to hear from you so that potential adjustments can be made.
Where can I see the proposed plan?
Who is going to pay for this big loop around Stephenville?
Roadways won’t come until development comes and many of the costs may be picked up by developers and the Texas Department of Transportation. A long-term thoroughfare plan is a living document where it is known beforehand that changes will come due to need and demand. Development of property is the biggest key to roadways actually happening, which will be based on use and condition.
How do I make sure my voice is heard?
Email your comments to email@example.com for inclusion. You can also contact Noah Cullis Stephenville’s Director of Planning and Building Services via the Stephenville city website at http://www.stephenvilletx.gov/