By Sean Wardwell
Killeen Daily Herald
Aside from Tuesday night's historic recall election, eminent domain was on the minds of Killeen City Council members as they approved ordinances to condemn several unspecified properties under their eminent domain authority relating to planned construction and road widening.
Areas in question were Elms Road, Bunny Trail, Stagecoach Road and Farm-to-Market 2410.
These are, most likely, the last actions the council will take for the next several months, as a quorum was lost in the recall. Until one is re-established, the council cannot meet.
Eminent domain is a process through which a governmental body can force the sale of private property for the public good.
That the city successfully sought the authority does not mean the properties in question will immediately be seized, however. Mayor Pro Tem Scott Cosper said the authority would only be used as a last resort.
"We intend to exhaust all reasonable negotiations," he said. "(The authority) allows us to move our projects in the event (property owners) don't want to work with us."
The affected area on Elms Road is between Carpet Lane and State Highway 195. For Bunny Trail, the area is between State Highway 201 and Stan Schlueter Loop. Stagecoach Road's affected area is between State Highway 195 and Harker Heights city limits. On FM 2410, the affected area lies between Stan Schlueter Loop and Harker Heights city limits.
The council also sought eminent domain authority for an area on Rosewood Drive, going south to the intersection of Fawn Drive.
District 1 Councilman Kenny Wells and at-large Councilman Billy Workman voted against all eminent domain ordinances. District 3 Councilman Terry Clark voted against the ordinances concerning Stagecoach Road and Bunny Trail.
The council also approved the carry-over of $5.1 million in unspent departmental funds from the prior fiscal year to the current one and approved several grants.
One of those, a disaster relief grant, reimbursed the city more than $54,000 for responding to several wildfires in Central Texas this summer under a mutual aid agreement with surrounding areas.
The fire department also received approval to accept a grant through the Texas governor's office for more than $27,000, to help the department recover from equipment losses related to a June 3, 2008, wildfire.
Finally, the city approved its new drainage design manual, but only after an amendment by District 3 Councilman Terry Clark that sets a requirement that a 25-year flood must be contained at zero inches above a curb. "This is a public safety concern," he said.
Cosper took issue with Clark's amendment, asking why the city even had meetings with stakeholders if it intended on passing the most restrictive plan.
The amendment passed on a 4-3 vote.
Contact Sean Wardwell at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7552. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcity.