February is the month of love and your Commissioners’ Court celebrated our love for Rockwall County by strengthening our subdivision regulations! Now, if the words “subdivision regulations” has you nodding off faster than that turkey on Thanksgiving, bear with me for a second. These little beauties with the boring name are the county’s tools to exert control over the development of county lands. As a whole, the document that is Rockwall County’s subdivision regulations is hundreds of pages in length and within it are buried many opportunities to effect positive change on our future.
It is, and should be, a living document—changing (in line with state statutes, of course) to reflect the needs of the community it serves, and to protect what that community holds dear. During the Valentine’s Day meeting and by a vote of 3 for and 2 against, the court amended the subdivision regulations to incorporate Local Government Code Section 232.110 in its entirety. This particular section has been law since 2019 but was not wholly adopted into Rockwall County’s subdivision regulations. Doing so now allows us to assess developers their portion of infrastructure costs. This means THEY PAY the costs that are attributable to the additional people, traffic, etc. that their development will bring instead of asking current residents to foot that bill. This seemingly small change will take a big bite out of the leverage developers had when negotiating with our cities. Before, if a city refused to grant a developer variances to get around stricter rules, the developer might apply pressure to that city by threatening to build their development in the county where they could avoid paying their fair share of the costs associated with that development. Now they no longer have that option.
As I have stated many times before, this will be an ongoing, ever-evolving process. We will implement tools that other counties are already using, and sometimes we may be the ones to take the lead. We, and other counties being overrun with rapid growth, are building a natural coalition of sorts, and we will each be stronger for standing together.
Now, if you’ve been paying attention, you may be wondering about the 3/2 votes on the above issue and on the resolution in opposition to MUDs that was approved at the meeting on February 28th by the same margin. This is good government at work. Those for and against are voicing their views in the open meeting so that residents can see and hear with their own ears and then make up their own minds. If you watch the Commissioners’ Court meetings and work sessions (they are all recorded in real time and also accessible later through links posted on the county website) you will see that the main concern being voiced by the minority is that the battle against over-development in our county is one better fought in Austin by the legislature. I am happy to report our Texas State Representative Justin Holland, who signed in support of our Resolution, has introduced several bills to give counties some authority over development outside of city limits (take a look at HB1852, HB1916, HB2784 and HB2785). I am grateful to have our representative working for us in Austin AND standing with us here at home. I am grateful for my fellow Commissioners who are all diligently working for the good of the county. There is work to be done in Austin, for sure, but we must do all we can on the home front or we will likely find ourselves drowning in our own traffic while we wait for someone else to save us.
There are good things happening in Rockwall County! If you’d like to see the resolution against MUDs for yourself, you can see it now on my Facebook page (Frank New, Republican for Rockwall County Judge), or on the county website when it’s posted in a couple of weeks. The resolution is not a “law” to be enforced, it is a declaration. Letting those who seek to develop on county lands know that the wind has shifted, and that we intend to protect our community’s quality of life by all legal means.
I am YOUR county judge. My name is Frank New, and you can reach me via email at email@example.com or by phone at 972-204-6000.
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