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City council adopts water conservation plan

May 23, 2019

The Tomball City Council is moving forward with eminent domain on four properties to install public utilities, adopted a water conservation plan and a rezoning request during its regular meeting on Monday, May 20.

City manager Rob Hauck said the city was working with landowners to purchase four portions of their properties to install water lines along East Hufsmith Road between Zion Road and Snook Lane.

“There’s a very distinct difference between easement, which is us utilizing or us having the right to put some pipe in the ground where we still don’t own it, where they still can have fences in their yards and those kinds of things,” he said.

The first property would be for a 0.1099-acre portion or 4,789 square feet of land, while the second property would be for a 0.0555-acre portion or 2,417 square feet.

The third property would be for a 0.1107-acre portion or 4,822 square feet and the fourth property would be a 0.1268-acre portion or 5,522 square feet of land.

Councilman Derek Townsend voted against the ordinance for the first property, even as council members John Ford, Lori Klein Quinn and Mark Stoll voted in favor of passing the ordinance.

Councilman Chad Degges did not attend the meeting.

“I am firmly a believer that when people own property, they own that property and I don’t think that anybody should come in and take that property from them for any other use,” Townsend said.

According to the Office of the Attorney General of Texas, eminent domain allows government entities to force private landowners to sell their property for public use.

A government entity would then condemn the property and compensate the landowner for the property taken.

Hauck told the council that the city had been negotiating with the landowners to obtain a 20-foot easement of the landowners’ properties to install water lines as part of a capital improvement project.

Townsend then said he understood the need for eminent domain and voted in favor of the remaining three ordinances.

“It’s important for folks to understand that when this council approves an $800,000 water line expansion project that is going to improve our water system across the city…we can’t allow one landowner to completely hold us hostage so that we can damage or negatively affect everyone in the community,” Hauck said.

Water conservation plan

The council approved a water conservation and drought contingency plan, which it periodically reviews and adopts every five years to be submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, according to the agenda.

The city would establish and maintain rules and policies to conserve water supplies during droughts and other emergencies where water supplies may be low.

“This is a re-adoption of a city’s drought and contingency plan. Every five years, we need to reevaluate and resubmit to TCEQ and it’s that time,” said public works director Beth Jones.

According to the proposed plan, Tomball residents and businesses use about 788 million gallons of water per year with 70 percent for homes, 5 percent for multi-family residences and 24 percent for businesses.

The public works department would test and calibrate the water meters and have them replaced as necessary.

It would also identify abnormal conditions and repair equipment and pipeline breaks.

Depending on the severity of a drought, the city will determine the amount of of water residents and businesses can use, emit boil water notices and may purchase in case of contamination.

Residents or business owners who violate plan can be fined up to $2,000 per day.

The city council would need to approve the next water contingency plan in 2024.

Rezoning request

The council also approved a rezoning request for a 3.6-acre property to commercial from agricultural.

Located along Texas 249 and Alice Road, the site would be used as a “high-end mixed-use development” according to a letter written by Harpreet Mangat and Hardial Mangat.

“We’d appreciate if the zoning was approved so that we can build a beautiful shopping center that welcomes people into Tomball and also, it will provide revenue for the city,” said Harpreet.

The site would be used for a retail, office and restaurant complex, according to an application submitted to the community development department planning division.

mayra.cruz@chron.com

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