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Letter: Bartonville water tower settlement in town’s best interest

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These are my views and not necessarily those of the council.  I support a water tower based on the facts presented in the engineering studies and “what is in the best interest of Bartonville.”  We have been in court for the past several years to settle the argument if a town has the right to determine if and where a water utility company can place equipment.  In Texas, it was understood that water utilities could force what they needed onto cities/town.  I believe that this court decision proves that we, as a town, have the right to declare what is in the best interest of the town and its zoning.  The court case was zoning, not about if the water tower is needed nor if the tower violated any town ordinance.

On April 21st, the council agreed on a settlement letter to move forward.  In most cases, a settlement would mean that a deal was signed and people would receive something from the agreement.  This is not the case with what we did last night.  The letter is public and I encourage you to read it. 

This agreement is contingent on many things for a permit to be granted.  We have NOT agreed to give them anything.  The Cross Timbers Water Supply Company (CTWS) must provide a full and complete statistical package to the town with any hopes of having P&Z approve it.   P&Z will have to look over all the data available to them and objectively determine if Bartonville’s best interests are served by having a water tower.  That is why, on April 21, the council also approved the need for an independent engineering study.  This would ensure the final result is objective and accurate; not skewed by one group or another. 

I did not support the town initiating a study as it is NOT the town’s responsibility to pay for engineering studies (or any type of analysis) every time there is a permit request.  I did not want to set that precedent.  That burden lie with the requestor to bring all facts to P&Z.  If CTWS could not find a way to provide an independent study, they may not have enough information to gain P&Z approval.  We need to remember, based on the studies and facts presented to P&Z before, P&Z did support the tower before council voted it down.  With all the information that is out there now, it is far more complex today.  The settlement letter allows for the above to take place.  Without it, the long term protection from litigation on certain outcomes would not be in place.  This would have potentially exposed the city to further litigation and expense.

Is a water tower needed?  It’s not a simple question.  We do need more water reserves.  Another fun fact is that CTWS is not required to provide water for Fire Suppression.  They do not have to have the reserves needed to fight fires.  Residents to the north of the proposed tower are mostly on Argyle Water which has three water towers.  You guys are covered.  The purpose of the water tower is to efficiently allow for water pressure and reserves without pumps.  The cost savings of not having to use pumps for pressure over the life of the water tower is huge.  Above ground storage tanks give you the same storage but pumps must run to ensure you have reasonable pressure.  So when people say that ground storage will do the same thing as a tower, they are correct to a degree.  Running pumps is expensive, and that cost will be passed onto the members.  I am a member of CTWS (as is >60% of Bartonville), and I do not wish to see these costs.  Many opposed to the tower use Argyle Water, not CTWS, where this cost is not their concern. 

I understand that many residents north of the tower do not want to see it.  They do not want any impact on their property values.  They have the right to fight for not having it placed there.  Yes, Dick Armey is the face of this group, but this is a group of citizens wanting the town to protect them.  It is the same protection everyone in town wants and deserves.  I do not agree with the Armey’s for suing the town, as they just did 4/23/14, in an effort to prevent the process from moving forward.

I keep hearing that we are not supporting our zoning.  Some are claiming that we will give CTWS a special deal.  That is not true.  I want to ensure that ALL of Bartonville is represented. Today, it is not a question of defending our zoning – we WON that battle.  It is now about going through the standard P&Z process to determine if CTWS can present a compelling reason as to why the town should allow the tower.  How well they inform the town will determine the final resolution.  P&Z will consider all of the information and come to a decision that will be supported within our zoning regulations.  No one is going to bypass our zoning.

The council has been presented with tons of data on this matter.  Each side has said they are right. More than 63% of Bartonville residents (CTWS MEMBERS) are impacted directly by the decision and 100% in other ways.  As a town, we must address real concerns about fire safety.  It has been presented that without a tower/additional reserves, our insurance could go up.   I do not know the details well enough to say yes or no.  The information I received was from the Fire Chief.  If the tower is torn down and tanks are not added, Bartonville’s insurance rating next year may be negatively impacted due to lack of reserves.  We cannot force CTWS to build above ground storage to help prevent such impacts.  But, with a tower in place, that concern as well as issues regarding fire pressure would be eliminated.

We have not impacted the town ordinances.  They are stronger than ever.  The court case says we have control to determine what is best for all of Bartonville.  I know people do not agree on this.  All the council can do is work together to ensure we do what is best for Bartonville.  Again, these are my opinions, not necessarily the views of the Town or Town Council.

Jeff Traylor
Bartonville, TX

 

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