CORYELL COUNTY — About 20 residents of Sun Set Estates met with county officials in a private home Monday to discuss creating a road district for the sole purpose of paving 1.8 miles of Kenney Drive and Nathan Drive.
The group crowded into Orville Maaninga’s rec room to hear County Judge John Firth, Commissioner Jack Wall and County Attorney Brandon Belt explain the process for fixing the pothole-pocked roads that have frustrated the residents for years.
“You are not being treated or served well in this lengthy process,” Firth told the group. “There is a lot of blame to go around.”
Most of the blame seemed to fall on Sun Set Estates developer Melvin Hempel, who built the roads below county standards making it impossible for the county to maintain them.
“There is no doubt you’ve been wronged,” Belt told the residents. “It is not fair to you to put money in when the developer should have” built the roads to county standards.
“We have tried every angle to fix this,” said Kelly Lucas, a Kenney Drive resident active in resolving the road issue. “The contractor did some shady work, and when the music stopped, we were without a chair.”
Lucas said the time for finger-pointing is over and called the road district “the only route we have found” to pave the roads.
Road District 1 will not be part of the county government even though the commissioners’ court will serve as its board of directors, Belt said.
The district would include property along Nathan Drive and Kenney Drive and part of Hempel Road.
Creation of the district “has to be your political initiative,” Belt told the group.
“We need to be proactive and get signatures on the petition,” said Bill Sakhnini, another neighborhood road activist.
The residents will circulate petitions to put a measure on the November ballot to allow the road district to incur debt to finance the paving.
All voters living in the road district will be eligible to vote, Belt said, not just the land owners.
If the measure passes, the road district will borrow money to pave the streets then levy a tax on property owners to repay the debt.
Once the debt has been paid, Belt said, “the road district will disappear” and the roads will become part of the county system.
The dollar amount for the project to be included on the ballot has yet to be determined. The residents must decide how quickly they want the roads repaired.
One option would be to purchase paving material and have the county road crew pave the roads over a two-year period at an estimated cost of $55,000 to $60,000, Belt said.
Another option would be to hire a private construction firm to build the roads more quickly but at about twice the cost if the county did the work, Belt said.
Belt estimated the debt would be repaid over five to seven years and would cost taxpayers in the district 7 to 10 cents per $1,000 property valuation, depending on the final cost of the project.