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Proposed Ferris development meets opposition

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Developer asks for citizens' support
JOEY DAUBEN

The Ellis County Press

FERRIS - Shaw Creek Ranch, a proposed 580-plus unit housing addition towards the west side of town, is getting mixed reviews among city officials and residents.

KD Financial Inc., the developer trying to lure the homes to Ferris, proposes a mixed-use development, with a minimum of 1,150-square-foot homes situated between Ferris Intermediate School on FM 664 and the new second- and third-grade center on FM 983.

The developer said he expects the average home built will be 1,500 square feet. City zoning ordinances currently only require single-family units to be 1,000 square feet.

Steve Donosky, president

of KD Financial Inc, is asking support from the citizens who have expressed their approval for the new development.

'Please voice your support for positive Ferris growth at the [Ferris] Planning and Zoning Commission [meeting] Thursday, Dec. 5 at city hall ... 7:30 p.m.,' said Donosky.

'It would bring a tax base into the city of Ferris and possibly give us the population to become a Home Rule city,' said Ferris City Councilman Victor Burnett. 'It would be better quality of living for people wanting to move to Ferris.'

The estimated 550-unit housing addition wouldn't bring in much tax revenue, according to a former Ferris mayor, Billy Don Dunn.

'I'm not in opposition to smaller housing,' Dunn said. 'Development is important to the community, but I have concerns with 550 houses at 1,000 square-feet and on 50-foot lots. Whenever you set the trend for small [houses, higher density], then you're not going to attract quality development in the future.'

Burnett said not everybody can afford $150,000 to $250,000 homes other cities have made popular.

Dunn said he would try to encourage the development to come into the town, but the impact high-density homes will have on the city's water and sewer infrastructure needs to be taken into account.

'You would have an affect on future [developments] if you used all the water, sewage taps on 1,000-square-foot houses,' Dunn said.

'It could become a slum in the future, maybe some government-subsidized housing in there. So we need to give [the addition] a lot of thought.'

Ferris Public Works Director Charlie Joe James said currently, the city of Ferris would be unable to handle the housing addition.

'Until we can buy water from Rockett [Special Utility District], we're stuck,' said James, who noted the city currently purchases water from the RSUD. 'Rockett said it would be a year at least [before we could buy water].'

The land proposed for Shaw Creek Ranch is pasture land and doesn't have water or sewer pipes in place. The developer, James said, would have to see to it those pipes are in installed, enlarge the 'wet well' of the current lift station and have engineers level the land - which is currently home to hills and a stock pond.

'The developer knows what he has to do, but Rockett can't grow because they're in high demand,' James said. And, 'without water, Ferris can't grow.' The developer also wants to set aside space for commercial development, and Dunn said that too, could become an issue.

'We've got to look at commercial zoning in between two schools,' he said. 'Local retail would bring in your shopping centers, stores. Commercial zoning you could have paint body shops, truck repair shops.'

With the current zoning ordinances in place, Dunn said the development could attract 600-square-foot duplexes as well.

'Our zoning is obsolete compared to Lancaster, Waxahachie and Midlothian. Sub-standard for this day's time,' he said.

'We don't need to inundate our community and impact them [with this many houses].'

Dunn said he isn't associated with a proposed housing development on the east side of Interstate Highway 45.

'I don't have anything to do with it,' said Dunn, who was instrumental in bringing the Waste Management landfill to Ferris. 'And I don't think Kelly [Harris] does.'

Kelly Harris, himself a local developer and real estate broker, stated his opposition to the 'low-income' housing for the reasons Dunn described at a recent Ferris City Council meeting.

'We are offering affordable homes to families earning more than $30-$50,000. The IRS says this is considered moderate or middle-income households,' said Donosky.

When completed, the estimated $18 million shopping center, $18 apartment complex and $69 million residences will generate more than $600,000 in city property taxes, according to Donosky.

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