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Replat proposal draws fire from property owners

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DIANA BUCKLEY
Ellis County Press
WAXAHACHIE - A group of citizens turned out for the regular session of the Ellis County Commissioners' Court to lodge a protest against a proposal to divide one lot into three in the Morgan Farms subdivision near Palmer. But, according to County Attorney Joe Grubbs, commissioners did not have any legal discretion in the matter.

'These citizens think you can do something,' Grubbs said. 'But you can't. This is a question of recording authority. If they meet the standards, you have no authority to reject it. You don't have zoning authority.'

In spite of Grubbs' statement, commissioners were split evenly over the issue. Hallie Robinson, pct. 1, and Ron Brown, pct. 4, voted to approve the replat as Grubbs had suggested.

'These people make a good point, but our attorney has said plainly it is not within our authority to scrutinize the topography,' said Robinson.

Jerry Holland, pct. 2 and Charles Waller, pct. 3 voted to deny the approval.

'When the property floods, and floods the golf course so you can't even play on it, how long does the water stay up?' he asked.

Morgan Farms resident Daniel Ward said water might stay up as long as 24 hours. 'The land is constantly being changed by the forces of erosion,' Ward continued.

'I work in the surveying industry. There is going to have to be some serious land modification done.'

Five surrounding property owners spoke to commissioners on the subject, showing pictures of a ravine on the lot and complaining about placement of sprinkler heads for the aerobic septic system, potential strain on water lines, and the welfare of future owners of the proposed home sites.

'It's going to put somebody in danger if she ever sells it,' said Kelly Ward, another landowner in the area.

'The loan people will have some restrictions,' said Brown, 'If that might be a problem.'

'Imagine being a home owner!' exclaimed Ward.

'I'm trying to figure out why you are so concerned about other people,' said Brown.

'One concern is for us,' admitted Ward. 'We don't believe they can put that amount of water through the lines. But when our children are standing on a porch and the sprinkler comes on and sprays our children in the face, that's a problem.'

Debbie Wallace, owner of the property in question, asked to address commissioners again after opponents had finished.

'They keep making much-ado about this sprinkler head,' she said.

'It can be capped off. We can fill in the well, no problem. We've had a septic system advisor look at the levels. These people just don't want more homes in their area.'

According to Jim Cooper of the Ellis County Department of Development, the replat does meet all of the county's standards since Rockett SUD has agreed to supply two additional water meters.

'Approving the replat does not necessarily mean you can put in a septic system,' he added. 'And knowing what I know now, anybody who wants to get a permit will have to look at the flood plain.'

Grubbs said the citizens had accomplished one thing by attending the meeting. 'Your developer has been made well aware, has inherited a burden to disclose,' he said. 'There are enough witnesses here, if she sells and doesn't tell somebody, she becomes liable.'

In the end, Judge Al Cornelius cast a tie-breaking vote in favor of the replat.

'Like my grandmother used to say,' he said, 'It galls my gizzard to have to do this. I'm concerned about this matter. We will keep an eye on it.'

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