Plum Grove City Council unanimously voted Monday night to close three intersections leading into the Colony Ridge subdivisions south of Plum Grove, contending that the roads, which intersect city streets, were never authorized by Council prior to being built by the developer, Colony Ridge.
The roads being debated are the intersection of CR 3479 and CR 347 South (also known as Paul Campbell Loop; a portion of the intersection of CR 5017 (also known as Santa Rosa) and CR 347 North (Paul Campbell Loop); and a portion of the intersection of Plum Grove Road and CR 5000 (also known as San Marcos). Council’s vote was to close these intersections immediately and to force the thousands of residents in the Colony Ridge communities to use five other intersections, most of which are south of the city.
Council also authorized the purchase of barricades to stop traffic at these intersections and briefly discussed surveillance cameras that may be erected in critical areas to monitor traffic along the city streets in the future. They also voted in favor of forbidding left turns onto FM 2090 at the northern section of Plum Grove Road, to pay for signage in English and Spanish advising of the road closures and for 10 loads of gravel and dirt to be used for road repairs within the city limits.
The Plum Grove fire station was packed with local residents for the meeting, some in support of Council’s actions and others who brought up concerns for the safety of school buses that will be forced to travel down city streets that the City has struggled for years to maintain due to a lack of funding.
Calvin Nelson told the council their decision puts the city at risk should a Cleveland ISD bus tip over in a ditch or pot hole and students be injured or killed.
“You are closing a good road to send them down a road that is barely passable,” he said.
Mayor Lee Ann Penton-Walker responded by saying she had advised representatives with the school district that the roads were likely to be closed prior to Monday night’s vote, so they could plan accordingly. She contends that the backed up traffic along Plum Grove Road near some of the “illegal roads” presents its own hazard and that repairs will be made to make the city streets safer.
“We are aware that there are two spots where there are run-offs. Those are going to be the first spots that Mr. [Donald] Enloe hits, fixing it so two vehicles can go together. That road is no more dangerous than Paul Campbell Loop,” the mayor said.
The mayor alleges that the condition of the city streets is also a failing of Liberty County because commissioners have been unwilling to live up to an interlocal agreement that was signed back in 2017. The agreement, according to Penton-Walker, is a 50-50 split with the County and City sharing the burden for road repairs. In previous discussions with Plum Grove representatives, County leaders have said they are willing to help with the repairs but the City is unable to provide its half of the costs.
By phone Tuesday, Colony Ridge developer Trey Harris said that Penton-Walker is not presenting the full truth of how he and others have offered to fix Plum Grove Road and other streets at no cost to the City, but the mayor has denied their requests.
“[Pct. 3] Commissioner Boo Reaves and I have made multiple offers. I was willing to pay for the road repairs but she wasn’t willing to let Boo fix the roads,” Harris said. “I told her I would have my engineers design a remedy to fix that road and we would follow that, but she wasn’t interested in that either.”
Harris claims that two of the intersections proposed for closure aren’t even in the city limits, so the City has no authority to close them.
“In the not-so-distant past, I had an agreement with the City of Plum Grove to pull all of my property out of the city limits. The City has no jurisdiction there. My attorney has already forwarded the legal descriptions of the properties to the City of Plum Grove’s attorney, so they are aware that they have no right to block two of those intersections,” he said. “The third is a private road and is my only deeded access to a property that I purchased. The City does not have the right to block me out of my own property.”
Harris said that he will seek a temporary restraining order should the City move forward with its plans to close the three intersections. He believes the action was racially-motivated as a majority of the residents in his communities are Hispanic.
“It’s very disheartening to me that there is so much hatefulness and animosity to hurt children to further their agenda. You would like to think that humanity is better than that,” he said.
The legal fight over the road closures is expected to continue.
“Right now, the roads are still open. I am hoping that they will heed the advice of the attorneys and not close them,” Harris said.