The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

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March 20, 2013

Municipal district gets off ground

A small crowd gathered Tuesday afternoon in the driveway of a residence on Farm-to-Market Road 903, to catch the inaugural meeting of a board of directors for a municipal utility district, which will be overseeing the installation of infrastructure for a massive development planned for just west of Greenville.

The board of the Hunt County Municipal Utility District No. 1 convened its organizational session at 3401 Private Road 1173, which is north of U.S. Highway 380 about halfway between Greenville and Farmersville and just south of the Wagner Community.

About a dozen individuals turned out to hear what developers with the Walton Development Group had to say about the district, which covers almost 6,700 acres, some of which is located within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the city of Greenville.

The district is expected to consist of industrial manufacturing and distribution facilities, single family residential and some commercial development.

Joshua Kahn, one of the attorneys working alongside the developers, said municipal utility districts (MUDs) have been used for decades as a way to help launch developments across Texas, mostly recently in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

“And with the growth we are coming out to this area now,” Kahn said. However, he noted it may be a while before any major projects get under way in the district.

“It  may be five years, or it may be 10 years from now,” Kahn said.

Matt Tordit with the Walton Development Group noted how the Kansas City Southern and Blacklands railroads cross the southern end of the district.

“We’re looking to start off with an industrial project tied into that rail, before we start any residential projects,” Tordit said. “You are not going see any houses built out here for at least 10 years.”

Last summer, the City of Greenville announced it was planning to provide the water and sewer service to the district, which eventually will cover an area of almost 13,000 acres, approximately nine miles west of downtown Greenville, generally bounded by FM 1080 to the north, County Road 1073 to the east, FM 3211 to the south and FM 36 to the west.

The City of Greenville would extend its extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) to eventually include the entire MUD, which would give the city the authority to establish zoning standards for the entire district. A strategic partnership agreement would allow the city to collect sales taxes from within the MUD and earn additional revenue from the sale of water and sewer services as the area develops, while allowing for the application of the city’s subdivision standards and land use regulations to help govern the development within the district.

The district might someday develop into a small city itself with more than 21,000 units of housing proposed.

MUDs are one way developers can use to help pay for the establishment of infrastructure such as roads as well as water and sewer lines, with bonds sold to pay off the debt incurred through the establishment of an ad valorem tax rate within the district.

“Right now nobody lives in the district,” Kahn said.

The Texas Legislature passed bills creating the Hunt County Municipal Utility District No. 1 in 2011 and voters within the district approved its creation in November of that year.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved posting notices of future meetings on a fence at the same location, as well as inside the Hunt County Courthouse; designated an administrative office and meeting places at the Walton Development Group’s Dallas offices at 1445 Ross Avenue.

“We’ll have our primary meeting location here, once we have residents in the district,” Tordit said.

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