Local government

BELTON — A proposed subdivision straddling the Bell-Burnet-Lampasas county lines faces a rocky road to approval.

Bell County commissioners considered a final plat for Whitetail Ridge — a 50-lot development spread over nearly 693 acres in the tri-county area — on Monday.

Commissioner John Driver — who represents Precinct 4, where the development will be built — motioned to approve the plat. However, no other commissioner seconded the recommendation — effectively killing the plat in its current form.

The commissioners’ point of contention was with the developer, Lone Star Land Partners of Burnet, requesting variances from Bell County’s road regulations.

The company planned to use gravel for the subdivision’s privately maintained, publicly traveled roads, County Engineer Bryan Neaves said.

“It doesn’t matter who maintains it. It still has to be the same standard,” Neaves said.

Bell County typically requires publicly traveled roads to be built with pavement. Whitetail Ridge residents, Neaves said, would pay a $900 annual fee to their homeowners association to pay for road maintenance.

On top of that, the developer plans to build three low-water crossings on the two roads in the development — Whitetail Ridge and Antler Ridge.

“These are construction variances. I bring them to your attention because they’re related to the plat, but not on the plat approval,” Neaves said, explaining that roads are approved with construction plans, which he ultimately considers. “I have reviewed (the construction plans). We need to discuss these variances before I sign them or not sign them. I just wanted you to be aware of them.”

Commissioners Russell Schneider and Bobby Whitson said they expected the road’s gravel near a low water crossing to possibly be swept away when the area receives a large amount of rain.

“My bigger concern, really, is that you won’t get someone to fix it that day, it might take two or three days to get someone in there,” Whitson said.

Whitson described the roads as potentially being a public safety issue — especially for emergency services providers.

“You’re only going to inspect and go through that process if the roads will become county maintained. If it’s a public road (that is) privately maintained, with variances, chances are you’re not going to inspect it anyway, right?” Schneider asked Neaves, who agreed with the commissioner.

The county engineer asked during the commissioners’ workshop meeting what is next for Whitetail Ridge.

Driver suggested the county tell the developers, “Construct your roads to county standards.”

Schneider — who operated R.T. Schneider Construction, a Belton-based company that built roads — said Neaves will need to bring the plat back as well to let the commissioners consider approving the construction plans.

Another idea — to which Bell County Judge David Blackburn was more open — was from Project Director Phil Goodwill. He proposed the commissioners place a note on the plat, stressing the roads in the subdivision are privately maintained.

“There ought to be a note on that plat that is recorded so folks can see this is where it’s at,” Blackburn said.

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