An earlier version of this story included an incorrect figure for the percentage amount of the raises proposed for the Commissioners. The error has been corrected.
Dozens of Rockwall County residents voiced their opposition to a proposed luxury RV park within the county, and hearings were conducted on the proposed budget and tax rate for the next fiscal year at the regular meeting of the Rockwall County Commissioner’s Court Tuesday morning.
Developers Worth Williams and Mark Hickman presented their proposal, which would be 82 lots for luxury RVs and tiny homes on 10 acres of land on Cornelius Road east of Marilyn Jane Road, northeast of the Rockwall city limits. Each unit would be fenced in, and background checks as well as vetting will take place. The developers attempted to allay concerns by stating that the typical residents of these parks are retirees or those soon to be retired, and that they do not offer daily or weekend rates, only by the month.
The backlash to this project was heavy, as residents of the area were allowed to approach the commissioners and air out their concerns. What followed was dozes of community members stepping forward in a parade that lasted nearly two hours. Many concerns raised were the size of the development, the road being too small, public safety, affects to property values and more. One resident even brought forth a warranty deed from years ago for 80 acres of property, of which the proposed development used to be a part of, that purports to forbid mobile home park development and projects of that nature.
The commissioners echoed some of those sentiments, saying they are against the project. But at the same time added that if all laws and requirements are followed, then the developers should be allowed to go ahead. Commissioner Dennis Bailey stressed the value of property rights within unincorporated areas of the county.
“I’ve told you my position on this,” Bailey said. “But you have to respect the property rights of someone when they want to get something done.”
No official documents have been presented by the developer yet, so no action could be taken. Commissioner David Magness stated that the county will fully enforce the county’s subdivision regulations and state statutes to their limits if the developer decides to go through with filing paperwork and moving forward with the project.
Also discussed was the proposed budget for the county for the fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1 and ending on Sept. 30, 2020. Multiple residents came forward to speak out against the raises given to the commissioners and County Judge David Sweet. In the proposed budget, commissioners would get a 23-percent raise while Sweet would get 24-percent.
After hearing the concerns, Commissioner Cliff Sevier motioned to change the raises and spread them out over several years instead of all at once, motioning to change the budget to an eight-percent raise for elected officials in the county, with Sweet seconding the motion. When a vote was cast, it failed 2-3, with Sevier and Sweet voting for while Commissioners Bailey, Magness and Lee Gilbert voted against. Opposing points brought up were the need to keep salaries for positions like Sheriff competitive and that it should be kept as is.
Other items that were approved unanimously by the commissioners are:
— Approving out-of-state travel for Commissioner Lee Gilbert to attend the Ninth Annual Courts and Justice Executive Forum, scheduled for Oct. 21-23 in Scottsdale, Ariz.
— Approving a proclamation to observe Sept. 17, 2019 as “American Legion Day” in Rockwall County, at the request of Mark Kipphut, Commander of the Terry Fisher American Legion Post #117.
— Approving a letter of agreement with the City of Rockwall to host the 11th annual “Rib Rub Run & Roll” event on Oct. 4 and 5.
— Approving a part-time seasonal employee at the county elections office to prepare for upcoming elections.
— Approving a gym membership for Sheriff’s Office employees.
— Approving an inspection agreement with Bureau Veritas for the county jail expansion project at a cost of $122,850.55.
— Approving copier leases with CPI for county departments.
A special meeting is scheduled for Sept. 17 to hold a public hearing on the proposed tax rate, which is budgeted at $0.3284 per $100 of property value, the same as the current fiscal year, and to discuss the third draft of the budget. The next regular meeting is Sept. 24, where the Commissioners are expected to pass the budget. Both meetings begin at 9 a.m. and are held at the historic courthouse at 101 East Rusk Street in Rockwall, on the third floor.