Brandon Janes, Herald staff writer.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013.
Talks about a municipal utility district in south Killeen are expected to resume today with the Killeen City Council, after more than two months on hold. On March 5 the council voted 4-3 not to endorse Bell County Municipal Utility District No. 2, proposed by local developer Bruce Whitis.
Whitis plans to build about 4,000 homes on a 4-mile-long tract at Chaparral Road and East Trimmier Road, just south of the Killeen city limits. MUD-2 would establish a new taxing entity in Bell County that would allow the development to levy property taxes on its residents to pay for water, sewer and transportation infrastructure.
Whitis’ project, which requires state approval, missed a deadline for consideration in the 83rd Texas Legislature. Missing a chance at the Legislature, which meets every other year, may have delayed the project about a year, said Garrett Nordyke, a spokesman for the Whitis group.
Killeen spokeswoman Hilary Shine said that a staff presentation today will cover an alternative process for approving a MUD through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Whitis submitted a letter to the city requesting the council’s endorsement of the project. When the agreement failed in March, two deadlines added pressure to the council’s decision: a deadline for the Texas Legislature and Whitis’ deadline with the property owners to close on the purchase of the land. Since the vote, Whitis said he purchased the 1,400-acre property.
Nordyke said the developer is confident the project can gain approval from the state through TCEQ with or without the city; however, he would prefer to have the city’s endorsement. “The city doesn’t want the developer to create the district without setting the ground rules,” Nordyke said. “Also, pursuing (MUD-2) without an agreement would frustrate our relationship with the city, and our relationship with the city is very important.”
To see Whitis’ proposed plans for the project and artist’s renderings, go to the developer’s website, www.turnboranch.com.