By Justin Cox

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS Drainage issues continue to be a frequent subject of discussion and of disagreement in Harker Heights. But it appears the city is one step closer to drafting a formal ordinance.

The City Council and staff met with developers at a workshop Tuesday and discussed at length the options for the city's future developments.

The engineering of adequate drainage for future developments was at the heart of the discussion.

Mayor Ed Mullen said this is part of the city's effort to implement a set of rules that will apply to all developers, because more formal guidelines are needed as the city continues to grow.

"We know we have to have more formalized rules," Mullen said. "I think we're changing. We're getting to be a much bigger city. We don't know the developers as much anymore."

As has been the case in previous workshops on the subject, nothing was decided, but the general feeling from the council and the developers was that they are close.

Developer Gary Purser said the city's proposed drainage requirements are not necessary given the size of the city, especially since the other city streets don't have those standards in place.

"I've never had a street flood into a house, and I've been building here since 1967," Purser said.

City Engineer Otto Weiderhold said the streets need to be designed to account for a storm event that could potentially have 2 inches of water on the street, which is a major hazard for emergency vehicles. And since 90 percent of emergency response vehicles are patrol cars, proper drainage is necessary so that the police cars don't start hydroplaning on the way to an emergency.

Gary Purser Jr. said that he felt the current standards are acceptable, and the additional cost is not necessary.

Public Works Director Mark Hyde said the city staff and developers will be meeting again very soon to hammer out an agreement on the key elements that are most polarizing for each side.

The mayor said he feels strongly that an agreement will be worked out soon that benefit everyone.

"We've got problems in the city, and we're not going to accept that anymore," Mullen said, noting that the city has paid a great deal of money to make up for problems that have occurred in the past relating to this issue. "We need you guys (the developers) to come up with a solution. If not, we're going to come up with a solution."

Councilman Mike Miller said an agreement needs to be worked out soon.

"We've got a ways to go on the issue," Miller said. "What I don't want to see occur is come up with a solution in which Mark works with a developer, then one developer comes forward and refuses."

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