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Bell County, Belton debate land near jail

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Posted: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 12:00 pm | Updated: 5:05 pm, Wed Aug 15, 2012.

By Justin Cox

Killeen Daily Herald

BELTON — The county and its county seat aren’t getting along.

On Monday, Bell County Commissioners pelted Belton City Manager Sam Listi with questions about the city’s request to evaluate buildings at the new jail complex.

The county submitted a building permit recently for an addition to the new jail that will serve as a storage area for documents and occasionally large vehicles. Because the land next to it is residential property, the city of Belton is worried about part of the jail being so close to homes.

Belton approved the original plat for the entire jail complex while it was still in the platting process. However, the area adjacent to the jail complex was commerically zoned at the time the plat was approved.

The county was there first, but the city is wanting to make sure the structure that goes in is compatible, said Listi.

Commissioner John Fisher was not pleased.

“‘Oh, they’re going to be scared to death because of prisoner escapes,’ That’s all we heard about,” Fisher said. “It was originally an outdoor impound yard. We chose to move (that) to the back of the property because aesthetically it looks better from the back than the front.”

Belton City attorney John Messer said he understands the county’s frustrations, the city just needs an explanation on the property before homes get built there.

“Our desire was to get everything done at once. You were there first, the residential area came second. I think your position is very strong,” Messer said to the commissioners. “We didn’t know what the facility will be.”

Bell County Sheriff Dan Smith also was in attendance at the meeting and said the facility will be the quietest one on the complex.

“There will be very little activity out there,” he said. “The records retrieval is going to be one person to go out there with a box of documents. The only place we have to store it is the facility near Scott & White, and that place has been broken into four or five times.”

Fisher and County Judge Jon Burrows indicated that the county has been cooperative, and that it seems like the city of Belton is nitpicking.

Eddy Lange was the only commissioner on Belton’s side.

Listi suggested that they make the argument in front of the planning and zoning committee.

Contact Justin Cox at jcox@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568.

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