He had just come back from a weekend at his 1,800-acre ranch in Comanche County where he raises Angus cattle, bison and chickens. When he walked through the doorway of my home he had to lower his head a bit to keep from bumping into the top of the frame. At 6’8” with shoulders like a fullback, Ron Robertson looks like the classic Hollywood depiction of the rugged Texas cattleman.
After spending some time getting to know him it was evident that he also lives up to the image of the highly principled man of character so often portrayed in western movies. I was reminded of Matt Dillon, fictional marshal of Dodge City, Kansas, in the old “Gunsmoke” television series. A longtime Bartonville resident and former mayor for 11 years, Robertson resigned in November 2013 after stating that a newly elected majority on the council was taking the town in the wrong direction. According to Robertson, the new members had an agenda with a different set of values that were inconsistent with most residents.
“We had a very strong movement going forward in the town, where we were able to keep the rural atmosphere. When I say we, I mean a very strong council that was always solid in their belief about protecting the town’s future. No one was at odds. They might have disagreed at times, but they worked together. We developed the police department and hired the chief. We entered into a 380 Agreement with Republic Properties (RP) to annex the Lantana corner that is now Kroger.
“We did an ETJ with Denton and voted on it, and we brought that in, and now the potential in sales tax there is $350,000 to $400,000, which is a third or more of Bartonville’s current budget. We were in an agreement and negotiated sewers to our commercial corners. There were already commercial corners that had no sewer and in 2006 we negotiated to bring sewers to them. Yet, we kept the rural atmosphere of Bartonville, while staying out of the limelight and out of the press,” he said.
“Then, there was controversy over the water tower,” Robertson continued. “The water company wanted to put in a 160-foot water tower and they had to get a zoning approval to do that. The council did not see where a water tower was necessary and they denied it. Then the water company went ahead and built it anyway without permission and without the proper zoning, and that was the beginning of a court battle.
“The way I looked at it was that it wasn’t a water tower issue, it was a zoning issue. It wasn’t zoned for it and should not have been. But, that didn’t seem to matter to them because, without permits or zoning, they started to build it anyway. We got a stay on it. But, by that time, they had the structure set up. They claimed they were a utility and could do whatever they wanted to. Well, they were not a utility, they were a private corporation,” he said emphatically. The construction of the tower was stopped, pending a court hearing in April.
Robertson went on to say that a group in town began sending emails with misinformation about the tower and soon made it a political issue that distorted the facts. “They got enough people believing that the sky was falling and they came out and voted for the other side,” he added. The result of the campaign was that the Council makeup changed and Mayor Robertson and Mayor Pro-Tem Jim Farrell resigned in disgust.
“Since then, they (Bartonville Council) tried, but found out that they couldn’t destroy the police department. We knew we needed it because, when you have shopping centers that have liquor stores, banks, etc., there’s going to be a crime influence at some point. That was the whole idea behind building a police presence. It hasn’t made Bartonville less rural, it has simply made it safer!” he said firmly.
“On the sewer issue, the city has not paid a dime for sewers. It’s free because we did it in negotiations in a 380 with public property and an agreement with Kroger. It has limited capacity, with blocks in it to keep it from going any further and take care of our four corners. This council stopped the sewer from ever being connected. I had sewer connectors set up for all four corners and they said, ‘No, we don’t want commercial and we don’t want them to have sewers.’
“First they were against Kroger and the sales tax it was going to bring. Now, they’re saying we have enough revenue coming in from sales tax and that our ad valorem value will grow at 3 percent a year, so we don’t need any more commercial. Even though these areas were already zoned commercial! I know a majority of the residents want to keep the police department and allow for reasonable growth, which our sales taxes will provide.
“It’s important to note that when you raise ad valorem taxes in Bartonville (currently at $0.1929 per $100 valuation) you have to take into account that a large portion of the town has ag exemptions, and another 30 percent has a tax freeze on it for those over 65. They want a form of police, but how do you pay for it? I am not promoting taking land and turning it into commercial. We have land that is currently on the land use plan that is commercial. Let it develop, let it have its sewer and it will generate taxes. We have a daycare center with lines right to it, but the council will not let them tie into it. They have such a high demand need for this that it is a constant issue.”
For all the above reasons, Robertson has decided to get back into the political arena. He’s running for place 3 on the Bartonville Council against Councilman Clay Sams. Bartonville has about 1,500 residents, about 1,200 of whom are registered voters. Last year, about 500 residents voted.
Editor’s Note: Bob Weir will be interviewing Clay Sams, the incumbent for the Place 3 seat being sought by Ron Robertson in the upcoming May election. The subsequent story will be published in the near future.
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.