Lockhart growth could lead to various problems


By Kyle Mooty

LPR Editor

Lockhart faces challenges with growth pains that could eventually stretch well beyond its capacity, but city leaders are hoping to prepare so that it doesn’t expand to the point it pops.

A special meeting of the City Council was held last week to discuss many of the growth concerns Lockhart has both over the immediate short term as well as looking further down the road.

Mayor Lew White said he thought the special meeting would be a good time to see what type of impact the projected growth would have, and what options, such as expanding water treatment facilities and how long the city had before looking for additional water sources and transportation matters. White questioned if some of the proposed large developments would speed up such ideas.

Those addressing the City Council included City Planner David Fowler, Public Works Director Sean Kelley, City Engineer Will Wachel, Tim Montgomery, Water and Wastewater Team Lead with TRC, and Philip Ruiz, Chair of the Lockhart Planning & Zoning Commission.

Fowler noted Lockhart had experienced “obviously very strong, recent growth.” He said there were an all-time high of 585 single-family residential permits in 2023, eclipsing the 283 then-record total of 2022.

Large multi-family (apartment) units were added on San Antonio Street, with the only one under construction currently — the second phase of The Stanton.

As for houses, Fowler said the city now has homes for sale that have been built, whereas last year there were sold homes even before ground was turned for construction.

“Prices have dropped compared to what we were looking at last year in many cases,” Fowler said. “We now have some smaller, lower-cost options in a couple particular developments.

What we were thinking about last year was building houses for the school teachers, because there wasn’t any place for them to move into. We’ve addressed a little bit of that.”

Fowler said the median household income in Lockhart for 2021 was $64,633, adding that as Sept. 18, 2023, a three-bedroom existing home started at $175,000 and $249,000 with a two-car garage. “The most affordable houses appear at Trinity Square, Summerside, and Centerpoint Meadows,” Fowler said.

Lockhart had a population of 14,379 in the beginning of 2020 and was estimated at a little more than 15,000 in January 2022. Fowler believes when the current houses or other units are occupied, another 3,000 will be added to the population.

“There’s probably a good chance we will hit the 20,000 mark by 2030,” Fowler said.

There is an estimated 2.6 people per household, and Kelley said the city is anticipating 4.25 percent year-over-year growth.

Fowler said the hole in Lockhart’s demographics is the 35-49 age range.

“That probably means that we might be losing people after they graduate high school,” Fowler said. “I believe that some of the new housing products are attractive to this range. Maybe you will see that smooth out.”

Traffic counts on SH 142 and SH 183 are becoming issues, but Kelley said the Downtown Revitalization Project’s rerouting of larger trucks and changes to downtown traffic should help with the flow. That project should begin in March.

“This is definitely going to impact traffic and improve traffic,” Kelley said. “In February, signs will be installed. Implementing the new truck route. Essentially, we want to keep trucks on SH 130, SH 130 frontage, and 183. Those will be the primary routes for trucks.”

As for water, Wachel said Lockhart uses 2.99 million gallons of water per day and has a capacity of 5.7 million gallons per day, a little more than what TCEQ said Lockhart needs. However, by 2029, TCEQ said Lockhart will need 8.48 million gallons per day.

Mayor White closed the special meeting by reminding members of the city council that saying “no” to some developments until the growth is under control should certainly be entertained.

“I’ll reiterate that it’s OK to say no to some of these things,” White said. “If we get a big number that’s going to push our timeline dramatically forward, we might have to be in a position to say no.”


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