GATESVILLE — Residents living on two rough roads in Sun Set Estates north of Copperas Cove inched closer to getting their streets fixed when Coryell County officials last week accepted their petition to put a $100,000 bond issue on the November ballot to pave 1.8 miles of Nathan and Kenney drives.
Tax Assessor/Collector Justin Carothers told county commissioners that petitions submitted by the residents of Road District 1 have 46 valid signatures — a majority of the 80 registered voters in the district — enough to put the paving bond issue on the ballot.
Commissioners set a July 15 public hearing for 8:30 a.m. in the commissioners’ courtroom to let people speak for or against the measure.
Residents of the district “want to see how much they can borrow on the tax base,” County Attorney Brandon Belt told commissioners last week. “They want to see that this will not cost too much per year for some families.”
On May 13, the commissioners created Road District 1 — the first road district in the county’s history — as the first step of a complicated solution to address the neighborhood’s frustration at the crumbling, pothole-pocked roads.
Melvin Hempel, the developer of Sun Set Estates, was responsible for paving the roads when the subdivision was built. Residents said he told them the county would eventually take over road maintenance.
In July, Hempel pleaded no contest to a charge of violating subdivision regulations and paid a $700 fine, County Attorney Brandon Belt said.
When Kenney and Nathan drives started to disintegrate, Hempel refused to make repairs and residents asked the county to do the work. Commissioners told the residents the county could not accept the roads because they had not been built to county standards.
Under a plan Belt modeled after a similar solution in Guadalupe County, Coryell County created a road district comprising the land and residents of Kenney and Nathan drives. The residents petitioned for a ballot measure to allow the district to incur debt for the paving.
Only qualified voters in Road District 1 will vote on the bond measure.
With voter approval, the district will borrow money to pave the roads to county standards then levy a tax on property owners in the district to repay the loan.
After the loan has been repaid, the road district “will disappear,” Belt said, and the county will assume maintenance of Kenney and Nathan drives.
District residents may opt to hire a private contractor to pave the roads, Belt said, or pay the county road crew to do the work. The first option would be quicker but more expensive, he said. The second option would take two years but be less expensive.
Commissioner Jack Wall, whose precinct includes the road district, asked County Road & Bridge Superintendent Allen Neel if he could start doing the base work for the roads in the coming budget year.
“It would save those people a lot of money,” Wall said.
Carothers said the work would have to be paid for with revenue from the paving bonds.