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Ennis P&Z to consider city’s long term plan

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JIM WILLIAMS
Ellis County Press
ENNIS - Should the Ennis Planning and Zoning Board give its approval Monday, Jan. 8 for the city's 'Comprehensive Plan, 2000-2020: A Vision for the Future,' the plan would go before the Ennis City Commission for first reading Monday, Jan. 15.

The plan would be up for second reading at the commission's regular meeting Monday, Feb. 5.

All meetings will begin at 7 p.m.

Consultant Dan Sefko of Dunkin, Sefko and Associates Incorporated gave a slide presentation concerning the 20-year plan during the city commission meeting Monday night, Dec. 18.

'We're revising the city's master plan because of rapid change and need to plan,' City Manager Steve Howerton said. 'This is the eighth public hearing [about the plan]. I'm hopeful the plan will be adopted by Planning and Zoning on Jan. 8.'

Sefko said the purpose of the plan was to go along with state law.

He said the current population of Ennis is 16,825.

Sefko said the city's population in 2020 would be 30,000.

He said Ennis consists of 11,270 acres, of which about half is vacant.

Sefko said there was 12 percent residential land use, which is 5,576 acres.

He said the plan would consist of such subjects as city appearance, housing, conservation, historical and how land should be used.

Sefko said there would be a thoroughfare plan to accommodate expanding vehicular traffic, pedestrian traffic on Ennis Avenue and facilitating traffic when there's train traffic.

Projects would include extending and straightening Preston Street, extending Jeter Drive, and Lampasas and Hall Streets.

'We've added a new location for Lampasas,' he said.

Sefko said there are currently 171 acres of city parks, mostly west of Interstate Highway 45.

'Over 20 years, we'll need 400-plus acres [for parks],' he said. 'We'll probably need two new community parks with lighted ballfields.'

Sefko said parks would be set up for Texas Parks and Wildlife approval.

'It'll be good to go for grants in the future,' he said.

Sefko said the city hall is at capacity.

'Fire and police departments at some point will need to be expanded,' he said. 'A suggestion is a public safety complex.'

Sefko said he worked with Black and Veach on this plan.

'The plan should be reviewed every three to five years,' he said.

City Commissioner Byron Walker asked if commissioners would get a copy of the water and sewer plan from Black and Veach prior to adoption.

Sefko said the water and sewer plan was in the draft they had now.

'It's in your box,' Howerton told Walker.

Walker said he was sorry he wasn't aware they had the plan.

'You've done a great job,' Mayor Russell Thomas told Sefko.

Sekfo introduced two of his staff members, Heather Kindred and Brandon Allen, who have assisted with the plan.

'Boundaries have expanded so much,' Sefko said. 'The biggest change is the expansion of the area. It's just a matter of updating things. That's the biggest thing.'

'Changes are what people are concerned with,' Walker said.

Sefko said during the last plan, 15 years ago, we had a lot different economy.

'We're bound to have another slump,' he said.

But Sefko said if you look at 1985 and the new plan there's consistency,' he said.

Howerton said copies of the plan could be viewed by the public at city hall and Ennis Public Library. He said copies could be purchased for $25 each at city hall.

Howerton said there's a tremendous growth rate in Ennis.

'You probably need to amend zoning ordinances,' Sefko said. 'Standards should stay as good as they can along I-45. We've got to keep standards high along the interstate.'

He said the area around the interstate is mostly what people from out-of-town see of your city.

Sefko suggested the city amend its subdivision ordinance.

'When development comes in you're going to be reacting,' he said. 'You're going to spend money implementing improvements. Generally, the public doesn't stand for large catch-up programs. I suggest you do it gradually, prioritize and do it on a step-by-step basis. Do a little bit now. Now is when you can pull together a CIP [Capital Improvements Program]. We're going to tell you how you can work on funding for it. You can update the plan on a yearly basis. If there's something you don't agree with, let's modify it or change it. We'll come back to you with a meeting in front of Planning and Zoning [Monday, Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. in commission chambers at city hall]. Either in person or in writing, if anyone has any comments, get them to Mr. Howerton.'

'If we're going to develop along the interstate we're going to need water and sewer,' Walker said.

'Spending $11 million on water and sewer included in that is areas along the interstate,' Howerton said.

Ken Haskovec of FM Road 660, east of the city limits, said a couple of houses there were taken in by Ennis.

'What you do is what I call cherry picking,' Haskovec said. 'You take in a couple of houses and forget about everybody else.'

'The only authority the city has in the ETJ [extra territorial jurisdiction] is to regulate subdivision,' Howerton said. 'About cherry picking, those particular tracts cross that road.'

He said the city wasn't trying to identify one house or another.

'We don't plan to annex anyone unless they request it,' Thomas said.

'We have plenty of undeveloped land,' Howerton said. 'We don't need to go that far out for land.'

'Now when you annex you have to bring water, sewer and city services to those people out there, and that's slowed it [annexation] down considerably.'

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