The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

January 9, 2013

Proposed road takes toll

By JOSEPH HAMRICK
Herald-Banner Staff

GREENVILLE — Wanting more information and time to look over the proposed resolution, the Hunt County Commissioners Court voted Tuesday to table the proposal for the Texas Turnpike Corporation (TTC) to construct a toll road along the Northeast Texas Rural Rail Transportation District (NETEX) right-of-way between Greenville and Lavon in Collin County.

“A lot of decisions in life can’t be made in two years,” Philip A. Martin, precinct 3 commissioner said. “And we can’t make one in two hours. I want to acquire more information and to look into the wordage on the resolution before making a vote.”

Before the discussion began, Hunt County Judge John Horn urged the more than 30 citizens to keep the discussion civil.

“What this is all about is to bring information to you,” he said. “There is so much to a project like this. Take a deep breath and keep an open mind.”

Horn said that the citizens of Hunt County need to be proactive in how the county will grow.

“If we just stick our heads in the sand then people will come in and make us do what they want,” he said. “Either it’s going to be us citizens telling them how we want to grow, or Dallas will come in and tell us.”

John Crew, of the TTC, said the proposed toll road is still in the planning stages.

“This is by far a concept, something we’ve been talking about for a while,” he said. “Before anything can move forward with the economic value then you have to talk to people.”

If accepted, the road will affect the landowners living close to the right-of-way. According to Crew, the state has a safeguard formula to properly compensate land and homeowners who would be inconvenienced by the toll road.

Crew added that here has been some misinformation about the project.

“If your concept was it’s going to be large frontage roads, dividing land and splitting homes in half, we’re not,” he said. “This will be a high speed corridor. TxDOT controls us so we cannot build it if they don’t allow it.”

Chris Kurinec, a homeowner who lives along the proposed toll road, said the proposed road will negatively affect him.

“This means massive relocation to us,” he said. “This is going to split peoples farms to allow for a private company to make a private toll road.”

Kurinec said after his long service in the military, he didn’t want to be forced to relocate and find another home.

“I served 25 years in the military and was wounded three times,” he said. “I sunk everything I own into that property and this is where I am retiring. To have my buddies die for their country and now a toll road coming through private property makes me sick to my stomach.”

Landowner Rosie Melott said she is concerned about people being relocated.

“We moved here to get away from the busy streets,” she said. “There are a lot of older people who are very worried and concerned about being moved out of their homes.”

Some landowners, however, were in support of the road.

Lloyd Webb, a business owner in Greenville, said growth is good for Greenville and the county.

“Greenville is growing and needs to grow,” he said. “All I can say is give these people a chance and talk to them.”

Webb said he is open to the possibility of a road through his land.

“I am all ears, I’m affected by this,” he said. “If they want to come through and buy my land, then I’ll go to the beach and drink margaritas.”

Caddo Mills Mayor Dwayne Pattison said the project will be a benefit to Hunt County.

“A majority of the people will benefit from this,” he said. “Somebody has got to be thinking about their grandkids.”

Pattison told the courtroom that growth is inevitable.

“Growth is coming,” he said. “Anybody that thinks growth is not going to come this way, I’d like you to talk to the American Indians over 100 years ago.”

Crew echoed the mayor’s words, and added that is why the company is talking to the citizens.

“That is why we are here today; we are looking to get your support,” he said. “You can’t stop growth, but you can guide it.”