Athens Review, Athens, Texas

July 5, 2013

County public hearings planned for Tuesday

Commissioners to consider Rights of Way Policy and boundaries for proposed ESD

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

ATHENS — The Henderson County Commissioners Court has public hearings planned for Tuesday on a new policy for utilities that place service lines in the county and creation of an Emergency Services District north of Athens.

The Rights-of-Way Policy will be open for discussion at 9:25 a.m. Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin said the 19-page document gives clear guidance on how entities such as pipeline companies, water companies and telephone utilities use the county right-of-way.

Geeslin learned in April that the county did not have such a policy in place and began to work on the creating one.  Commissioners discussed the issue in two workshops.

Key provisions of the policy state that utility lines shall be located to avoid or minimize the need for adjustment for future road improvements and to permit access to the utility lines for their maintenance with minimum interference to traffic. The location of utility lines shall not adversely affect the safety, design, construction, operation, maintenance or stability of the roadway.

In addition, the policy requires that traffic-control devices shall be in place to warn motorists when work is in progress. The adjacent roadway is to be kept free of debris, construction equipment and mud. At the end of every construction day, construction equipment and materials shall be removed as far from the roadway edges as feasible.

Prior to the hearing on the Rights-of-Way Policy, at 9:15 a.m., commissioners will hold a hearing on boundaries for a proposed Emergency Services District No. 7, which will encompass an area north of Athens served by North 19 Fire Rescue since the department was formed in 2007. ESDs are political subdivisions established by local voters for the purpose of raising money through ad-valorem taxes on all real property located within the district.

According to the Texas Department of Agricul-ture, during the hearing the public may provide testimony, ask questions and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of an ESD.

Once the boundaries are in place, an election can be conducted in which the voters decide whether to create the district.