Commissioners Discuss Rockwall County Subdivision Regulations

(ROCKWALL, TX – June 11, 2019) During its regular meeting on Tuesday, the Commissioners Court welcomed a presentation from Freese and Nichols, Inc. (FNI) on a diagnostic report project for subdivision regulations in the county.

Daniel Harrison, AICP with FNI, said the project would involve interviewing county commissioners, landowners, developers and other stakeholders to identify issues with how land gets developed throughout the municipal and rural areas of the county.

“With the growth we’ve been seeing in counties all across the state, it’s a good opportunity now for us to take a look at how land is subdivided, so that we can make sure that it’s developed in an orderly manner,” Harrison said.

FNI would then prepare a draft diagnostic report addressing those issues, which would go through a revisions process based on feedback from the Commissioners Court. Once the court approves the revised draft, FNI would finalize and submit the report to County staff. According to the proposed project’s schedule presented to the court, the five-month process would see a finalized diagnostic report by early November 2019.

“What that report will give the county moving forward is a step-by-step process identifying all the issues needing to be addressed and issues needing to be updated in the county’s subdivision regulations,” Harrison said.

Concerning the subdivision regulations for the county’s extraterritorial jurisdictions (ETJs), Commissioner David Magness said he’d like to have all the cities in the county on the same page.

“We’ve had some issues with subdivision rules and regulations in the ETJs,” Magness said. “Currently we have a mix of regulations on the ETJs between the cities and the county. Our interlocal agreement asks that the cities enforce whichever set of subdivision rules and regulations are most restrictive – theirs or the county’s. Some cities are very aggressive, and some are not. I’d like to get to a uniform set of regulations between the cities, and I think we’re going to ask you guys to look at how we accomplish that across the county.”

Rockwall County 2019 Municipal Limits (click to enlarge). Map courtesy of Freese and Nichols, Inc.

Magness said other issues that will need to be addressed include drainage in high density subdivisions within the county’s unincorporated areas, and construction and maintenance bonds on streets.

“We need to know about the length of time for which we can extend those bonds,” Magness said. “We have a two-year window for the developer, and in some cases, we’ve had developers disappear before the county accepted the streets. Those roads have then failed, and we’ve had to pick up the tab for that.”

“That goes a lot with how we are deciding to process the plats,” Harrison said. “What we’d do is once those streets are done, we would ask for a two-year warranty bond for those streets, because we’d want to make sure that those roads stay in good repair for at least two years.”

According to Magness, the county’s subdivision rules and regulations have not been updated since 2012.

County Judge David Sweet said he would provide an opportunity for FNI to address some comments from the county’s legal team and auditor’s office, as well as give the court time to address any other concerns with the county’s environmental health coordinator. The court will then revisit the proposed diagnostic report project during its next regular meeting.

In other business, the commissioners court unanimously approved:

-the proposed Rockwall County Jury Selection Plan presented to the court by Judge Brett Hall, Judge David Rakow, and Judge Brian Williams

-out of state travel for County Judge Sweet to attend the Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas Regional White House Conference in Washington, D.C. on June 25th

-the replat of Lot 39R located in Los Establos Estates in Rockwall County

-resolutions regarding grant applications for a family violence prosecutor, a crimes against children prosecutor, and a part-time victim assistance coordinator for the Rockwall County District Attorney’s Office

-a renewal interlocal agreement with the Texas Department of Public Safety to provide driver’s license record information at no cost to the county

By Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News.

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