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Poth Page: Mayor addresses Eagle Ford ‘storm’
To the Citizens of Poth,
I would like to talk to you this week about the master plan of the city involving our planning and zoning. We have weathered the Eagle Ford shale storm by adhering to our planning and zoning (P&Z) ordinance and our master plan without wavering.
Yes, I did call the Eagle Ford shale oil boom a storm. With any storm there is both good and bad. Rain is wonderful in a storm, but the wind, lightning, and floods can be devastating.
Good things. By sticking to the city’s P&Z ordinance and master plan, we have had amazing growth in both homes and businesses. For the first time in more than 20 years, every building downtown is in use. Hunt Oil picked us for their home office in region. Current subdivisions are filling up fast. New subdivisions are being planned. Our sales tax income has never been higher. Selling our treated wastewater has been great for our infrastructure.
Bad things. Traffic, dust, noise, and outside interest trying to change our city to make a profit.
Several years ago when I was preparing for becoming mayor, I learned as much as possible about what a shale oil play does to the local communities. I called over 50 cities from North Dakota to North Texas and northern Louisiana. Each area had its own shale play. I read hundreds of reports, studies, and newspaper articles. I have attended several conferences, meetings, and consortiums.
I met with five officials from North Dakota’s towns for two hours at an Eagle Ford convention. They took time out of their lives just to talk about the problems that were created in their towns. They urged us to tread carefully into the new world around us.
The overwhelming consensus is that they regret not thinking about the long-term plans for their communities. Everyone got so caught up in the financial upside.
But when the boom busted, they were left in disarray. Too much residential property had been changed to commercial. They were left with empty equipment yards, empty buildings. Many of the local businesses went out of business because new box stores and super stations came. Many of the businesses have been around since the towns were founded. But in the end, those new businesses came and went.
In all, their great small towns that generations of families grew up in were no longer the same.
I have talked to and interviewed many people in our wonderful community, citizens, business owners, and school board members. Overwhelmingly I was told that they live in our town, run businesses in our town, go to school and church in our town, because they love the wonderful small town Poth is.
I am not against growth for our community. But it needs to be planned out carefully. If there is a need to add more commercial property, then we need to meet, plan, and discuss the pros and cons. What are the infrastructure needs? What about the individuals that bought land and raised families based on our current zoning? What will it do to our city 20 years from now?
Our current P&Z ordinance and master plan are not some old dusty books that have not been updated. We have continually used and discussed them over the past 10 years. If it is in the best interest of the town for the long term to change any zoning then it needs to be as part of a master plan. Our current P&Z ordinance is written to help us protect the master plan. A rezoning request is only for extreme circumstances, not just because someone wants to change. If that were not the case, then we should not even have a P&Z ordinance or master plan in the first place.
The promise of increase in sales taxes or property taxes is not the excuse we should use. Through hard work, careful planning, conservative principles, the city is in fantastic financial shape. By following our master plan, we have been able to replace almost all the city streets and infrastructure while lowering our tax rate every year. By following the master plan, we have not outgrown our water and sewer systems like most of our neighbors.
In closing, we will schedule a workshop in April to discuss our master plan with the Poth Economic Development Corp. and the Planning and Zoning Commission. Nothing will be done on a whim; it will be done with openness to the citizens and through careful deliberation. If it is in the best interest for the long-term growth of our wonderful city, we are open to change.
I thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope other communities in our area find this article informative.
Travis Pruski is the mayor of Poth.
Your Opinions and Comments
Publius Valerius Publicola
April 1, 2013 12:35pm
The Marcelina Muse
Dry Tank, TX
April 1, 2013 12:32pm
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