Friday, December 15, 2006

"If you’re successful in getting the Trans Texas Corridor to come in, then there will be no property left for these people.”

Commissioners face angry crowd over Outer Loop

December 15, 2006

By Brandi Hart
Mckinney Courier-Gazette
Copyright 2006

Anger. Confusion. Concern.

These were just some feelings that the majority of people in the packed Collin County Central Jury Room expressed in the three-hour-long public hearing held Tuesday night about the technically preferred alignment of the Outer Loop.

About 16 people officially spoke during the public comment period of the meeting, where the court voted 4-1 to approve the technically preferred alignment. Commissioner Joe Jaynes made the motion to approve the alignment, Commissioner Phyllis Cole seconded the motion, and Commissioners Jack Hatchell and Jerry Hoagland voted to approve the alignment. County Judge Ron Harris voted against the motion. He said after the meeting he voted against it because most of the comments he heard and saw were not in favor of the alignment.

The alignment includes 500 feet of right of way, the highway will be two lanes and the construction on the eastern, southeastern and western sections of the highway is not expected to begin until 10 to 20 years from now. Jaynes said the alignment might one day be the future Trans Texas Corridor but he wasn’t sure.

The county has not secured funding for the highway or most of the right of way for the highway, and the alignment is not “set in stone,” Jaynes said.

The commissioners approved the Outer Loop alignment from U.S. Highway 75 to Texas Highway 121 two months ago. Some landowners who live near the U.S. 75 to Texas 121 alignment asked the commissioners why they were invited to be there when the commissioners had already approved that alignment. Rebecca Bona was one of those and asked the court how it plans to get the right of way for the loop. Jaynes said 90 percent of the right of way for the Dallas North Tollway in Collin County was donated, which caused many people to laugh.

John Gunnell, who has owned land northeast of Farmersville for 36 years that used to belong to his grandfather, spoke against the alignment.

“I’ve been working all this time so I have a place to retire. If you’re successful in getting the Trans Texas Corridor to come in, then there will be no property left for these people,” Gunnell said.

“This is my house and I built it two-and-a-half years ago and Collin County never mentioned I was in a proposed right of way when I got my building permit,” Gunnell said.

“I have a cemetery on my property that goes back to the 1700s and you’re going to take that, too. I know it doesn’t look like I’m anybody but I’m a third generation farmer and my daughter wants to farm on this land. If I had known my property was in the right of way, I would have stayed in Fort Worth,” Gunnell said.

Mike Ingersoll said the proposed alignment would take most of his land away.

“You take the whole damn thing except for 20 feet. Why should I pay taxes on it and it may well be worthless. We have lives we’re wanting to plan and why aren’t people being informed of the closings by Realtors? There should be something required that tells potential property owners that this freeway is coming through,” Ingersoll said.

Leona Richardson said the commissioners would have helped their position if they had better informed people about the proposed alignment.

“We have been the stepchild in Collin County for the last 20 to 30 years. This was the last place you could go,” Richardson said referring to the north, northeast and southeast section of the county. Numerous people clapped and cheered after Richardson’s comments.

John Albers owns 650 acres east of U.S. 75 and northeast of Farmersville and said the technically preferred alignment cuts his property in half, and would take out his home and farm buildings.

One man who said he owns a $700,000, 5,800-square-foot home spoke against the proposed alignment as it will directly affect his home and might make his property value plummet at least — of what is it worth.

“There’s a lot more input from people wanted in this room. I’ve been working on hiring a team of professionals to work with the commissioners, neighbors and people about this,” Albers said.

Cole said that like most people at the meeting, she is also part of the Baby Boomer generation and that most of the people would most likely be dead in 20 years when the Outer Loop is completed. Some people in the crowd said they plan to live another 30 years and asked what about their kids. One man yelled out, “What about the air” to Cole and the commissioners.

Cole added that she is, “not out looking for road projects.”

“We have road projects that we can’t fund. I personally do not want the Trans Texas Corridor in Collin County. I want my grandchildren to be able to breathe. The technical alignment will not move through your house and we are trying to plan for the future and mobility in Collin County for our children,” Cole said.

Jaynes told the crowd that he and Ruben Delgado, the director of engineering for Collin County, have spoken about the Outer Loop and the proposed routes at city council meetings in various cities in north and southeastern Collin County.

“Last year, we added 102 vehicles per day. Collin County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation and the fastest-growing county in the state. It’s easier to have an alignment before another 100,000 people move into the northwestern quadrant of the county or into Anna or Melissa,” Jaynes said.

He said now the cities that will be affected by the Outer Loop can put the alignment on their maps and tell developers where the proposed alignment will be.

One man threatened to get all of the commissioners voted out of office while Cole was speaking after everyone had spoken in the public hearing. Numerous people laughed, clapped and cheered at comments made by people who spoke in opposition about the alignment during the meeting. Almost everyone who spoke during the public hearing said the recent notice each received via certified mail from the county about the public hearing was the first notice they have received about the Outer Loop.

Alfred Scott was at the meeting because he is opposed to the alignment as he owns 30 acres of land northeast of Blue Ridge. He said his notice about the public hearing that he received from the county did not state that the commissioners might take action on the alignment Tuesday.

“If they said they might vote on it, then more people might be here,” Scott said in the packed Central Jury Room.

The county will accept written comments about the technically preferred alignment from now until Dec. 27.

Contact staff writer Brandi Hart at

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