Despite pandemic, housing developments around the county are progressing

In this file photo from November 2019, Pct. 3 Commissioner Boo Reaves (left) and David Douglas look at plans for a residential plat in the Tarkington area.

Three agenda items at Tuesday’s Liberty County Commissioners Court meeting involved the platting of subdivisions.

Hidden Estates, located on CR 301 in Tarkington, is under development by Tour 18. The first section of the 5-10 acres lots has already sold out and the developer is ready to move on the second installment of the subdivision, Liberty County Engineering Administrator and Grant Coordinator David Douglas explained to commissioners. LJA Engineering, which contracts with the county on such projects, has already approved the preliminary plat request by Tour 18, Douglas said.

With no impediment to the second section, county commissioners approved the preliminary plat.

Commissioners also approved the final plat request for Section 6 of the Santa Fe Subdivision, located south of Plum Grove. The subdivision is under development by Colony Ridge Land, LLC, the developer behind the Montebello, Bella Vista, Grand San Jacinto and Rancho San Vincente subdivisions in the Plum Grove area.

Colony Ridge also requested approval of a replat of lots 1732 through 1744, and lot 1746 in Section 1 of the Santa Fe Subdivision. The developer is enlarging a right-of-way and putting in a 25-foot drainage easement.

“Colony Ridge owns all these lots, so it’s not a big issue with them,” Douglas said.

The County took the first steps on an infrastructure project for CR 2204, located off of FM 787 and bordering the east side of the Cleveland Municipal Airport. Commissioners authorized a grant application from the Texas Department of Transportation.

“All of the engineering has been done already by [the engineering firm of] H.R. Green, so we have a shovel-ready project. It was thought that there was a 20 percent match but it is actually a 10 percent match requirement because of the underserved nature of Liberty County,” Douglas said. “That means we have a $1,094,121 project and only have to come up with $109,412 in matching funds.”

If the grant is approved, Douglas said the county will be responsible for a third of the matching grant funds – estimated at $36,470 – and the City of Cleveland and Cleveland Economic Development Corporation will each be responsible for $36,470. Douglas and Pct. 2 Commissioner Greg Arthur said both of the other entities are on board for the project, but formal approvals from each will be needed.

Commissioners approved the reappointment of Ryan Daniel, Audrey Harrison and Klint Bush to the Liberty County Housing Authority Board. Board members serve two-year terms. County Judge Jay Knight said he is pleased with how the housing authority board is functioning and asked that the board members be reappointed.

With Memorial Day just weeks into the future, commissioners were asked to consider an order authorizing the sale of fireworks. County Fire Marshal Bill Hergemueller said the coronavirus pandemic has created some uncertainty for fireworks sales. Commissioners authorized the sale of fireworks but added that it will be subject to any executive orders that might be in place at that time.

Pct. 3 Commissioner James “Boo” Reaves asked the court to consider transferring an airboat from Pct. 3 Road and Bridge to the Pct. 5 Constable’s Office. The $77,000 airboat was purchased for the county through a ReBuild Texas grant that administered through the Texas Department of Agriculture. The airboat was delivered to Liberty County in January 2020 and is intended to help the county’s disaster response during flood events.

Pct. 1 Commissioner Bruce Karbowski asked Reaves why he had not considered transferring the boat to the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office. Reaves explained that Pct. 5 Constable David Hunter is already certified to operate airboats and if the sheriff’s office needs it, Hunter is willing to help out.

At the time the Pct. 3 Commissioner’s Office sought the grant, the sheriff’s office had also been pursuing a grant for an airboat. Sheriff Bobby Rader dropped his grant request so that Reaves would have a better chance with his request.

Rader told commissioners that if they decide to transfer the airboat to his department, he already has two deputies certified and another two have passed their first exam and are awaiting the second test with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Pct. 2 Commissioner Greg Arthur questioned Reaves about why he wanted to move the airboat out of his department since he will be leaving his office at the end of the year. He lost his reelection bid in the March Republican primary to challenger David Whitmire. Whitmire now faces Democratic candidate Barbara McIntyre in November.

“We said we don’t transfer, so that one outgoing commissioner doesn’t transfer all of the assets out of their office,” Arthur said.

The commissioners agreed to table the request until it can be discussed by County Attorney Matthew Poston and County Purchasing Agent Harold Seay. The issue could be back on the commissioners court agenda at the next regular meeting on April 28.

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