After eight months, two failed attempts and dozens of hours of negotiations, the Killeen City Council consented to the creation of Bell County Municipal Utility District No. 2 on Tuesday.
The 4 to 3 vote of the council will allow local developer Bruce Whitis to build 3,750 homes in a 4-mile-long tract south of the intersection of Chaparral and Trimmier roads outside of the city limits.
Council members Jared Foster, Jose Segarra, Wayne Gilmore and Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Blackstone voted to approve the MUD-2 agreement. Council members Jonathan Okray, Terry Clark and Steve Harris cast dissenting votes.
Once he obtains approval from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Whitis will establish a new taxing entity in Bell County, which will enable him to pay for the infrastructure in the subdivision.
Tuesday’s vote came after a long review of the benefits and commitments both the city and the developer will have to maintain throughout the estimated 15 to 20 years of build-out on the project.
According to the contract, Killeen will provide water, sewer and solid waste services to MUD-2.
Since MUD-2 is outside of the city limits, the Bell County Sheriff’s Department will provide police and fire services inside the district.
Responding to the council’s concerns, Killeen Fire Chief J.E. Gardner said the Killeen police and fire departments and local emergency medical services may respond to calls in MUD-2 through mutual aid agreements.
MUD-2 residents will not pay property taxes to the city, revenue that funds services, such as police and fire for Killeen residents.
“With the police station just around the corner, it may make fiduciary sense to set something up to respond to those calls,” Clark said.
Scott Osburn, city attorney for planning, said that if police respond to an excessive number of calls in MUD-2, Killeen could negotiate compensation from Bell County.
“If the city was taking the lion’s share of the calls, the city would be in a position to renegotiate some of those agreements,” Osburn said.
In December the council voted down the project as a planned unit development, or PUD.
As a PUD, the city would have immediately absorbed the property into the city limits, but it would have cost taxpayers $20 million for infrastructure.
Council members voted down Whitis’ attempt to create a MUD in March through a legislative process.
After applying again for a MUD through TCEQ in May, Whitis was able to create his MUD with or without the city’s consent, and Tuesday’s agreement established controls over many of the projects building standards by the city.
Former Killeen Councilman Dick Young, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said he preferred the council would have approved the PUD in December.
“It’s a tough decision. I like the development. I just don’t like how it’s being done,” Young said. “I don’t like the MUD.”