Commissioners put off development decision
By LPR Staff
Before a standing-room-only crowd on Monday morning, the Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court chose to wait to act on an extensive and somewhat controversial ordinance that has been under fire for more than two months.
The ordinance, titled the Caldwell County Development Ordinance, seeks to regulate certain aspects of developmen
t in Caldwell County, including the financial requirements involved with developing land. It also carries an updated fee schedule and asks for permit fees for a number of construction activities.
Central to opposition of the ordinance, a number of residents, who turned out in force on Monday morning, believe that the ordinance will restrict, and ultimately strip, landowners of their private property rights.
More than a dozen citizens in attendance spoke out against the ordinance, many alleging that its passage would be a “tremendous overreach” in County authority dictating what property owners could do with their own land.
In prior meetings, the Commissioners stated repeatedly their intent was not to dictate to landowners, but rather to have a hand in managing rural development as “supercommunities” such as Cherryville and Turner Crest express greater interest in Caldwell County. Although some guidelines currently exist, a key problem in development is a lack full communication between agencies involved in the process of land development – an oversight the ordinance seeks to alleviate.
Some acknowledged that development in the county, particularly in regard to illegal subdivisions, but County Judge Ronnie Duesterheft stood alone in speaking publicly in support of the ordinance.
“I have lived in Caldwell County all my life [with the exception of his time of military service],” he said. “I’ve read this ordinance, and I don’t see a thing in it that would affect me at all.”
Many of the citizens concerned pressured the Court to wait to make a decision on the ordinance, and give the incoming Court members the opportunity to vote. Both County Judge-elect Tom Bonn and Commissioner-elect Fred Buchholtz were present at Monday’s meeting, as they have been for each of the workshops and public hearings since the ordinance was introduced for discussion in October.
While Bonn remained silent, Buchholtz asked the Commissioners to table the discussion, and give him the “new Court” the opportunity to take action.
Commissioner Neto Madrigal said he felt like the public is not ready to accept the ordinance in its current format, and made the motion to table the discussion. Commissioner Joe Roland said he would be “happy to second” that motion.
The Court voted unanimously to table the discussion until after Bonn and Buchholtz are sworn in.
In other business, responding to the increasingly dry climate and the winds that winter almost always brings, the Commissioners voted unanimously to enact an outdoor burning ban, as well as to impose a ban on certain aerial fireworks – particularly missiles with fins and rockets with sticks – for the holiday season.
Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Parker has been cautioning the Court for several weeks that the danger of grass fires has been increasing as the region becomes more dry. That danger has erupted into a number of grass fires in the last week.
While the County is under an outdoor burning ban, residents are prohibited from burning any materials outside of an enclosure. The burn ban applies not only to brush burning, but to burning trash, as well.
The language of the ban calls for a 90-day timeframe, but the ban can be ended, or lengthened, by order of the Commissioners’ Court.