Saturday, May 25, 2024

Around Argyle — February 2023

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and with it the second anniversary of Winter Storm Uri. The storm brought subfreezing temperatures and snow to most of the state. Many Argyle homes were without power for almost three days. In the analysis of what went wrong with power generation, transmission and distribution, we learned that multiple factors contributed to the hardships many Texans faced. In 2022, exceptionally high temperatures earlier than usual in the spring again stressed our power infrastructure and heightened worries about the resilience of the Texas power system, or grid.

Oncor Transmission Lines

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) manages the Texas power grid. In 2022, an ERCOT committee, called the Reliability Planning Group (RPG), recommended several potential improvements to the power transmission system serving the rapidly growing Alliance region, which includes portions of Denton and Tarrant counties, with a price tag of almost $300 million. One of the projects in this recommendation is the Ramhorn Hill – Dunham transmission line. ERCOT’s board voted to approve the RPG recommendation in August 2022. The stage was set for the issues we are now facing with Oncor last summer.

ERCOT and Oncor say that a transmission line that could include segments passing through Argyle, Northlake and Justin as part of the Ramhorn Hill – Dunham project is necessary because of reliability issues related to growth. More transmission capacity to prevent another event like Winter Storm Uri or a summer blackout is evidently necessary. On the other hand, the process for the Oncor study has not met reasonable expectations for transparency and respect for the most affected stakeholders; including homeowners, schools, churches and commercial property owners. Notification of the project and the public disclosures that followed since late November 2022 have been mishandled, with several stakeholders, including the town of Argyle, not being notified of the project at all, or being sent incomplete information. Initiating the public comment period during the week of Thanksgiving and requiring public comment to be submitted by New Year’s Eve was seemingly designed to elicit little public awareness and response. The process has been disappointing, to put it diplomatically.

Argyle has responded with determination. Citizens, town leaders and our capable staff have come together to organize and execute a campaign that has generated an outpouring of public comment submissions sent to Oncor. Here are a few of our accomplishments in the short time since we learned about the transmission line study:

  • Thousands of comments were submitted to Oncor, supported by the resource page that staff added to the town website
  • We hired one of the top utility law experts in the state to represent the town in our dealings with Oncor
  • A public relations firm with decades of experience in working with Texas municipalities joined our team to help us reach out to the media and has succeeded in raising awareness in local newsrooms and securing television and radio coverage
  • We drew upon relationships that Mayor David Rettig of Northlake and I have been working to build with Denton County and with our state and federal government elected representatives to bring attention to the unacceptable outcomes of transmission routes passing through Argyle and to create support for a southern alternative route that did not appear in the Oncor study.

I am inspired and thankful for the way Argyle citizens have risen to the occasion with the assistance of our staff.

The Argyle segments of the potential line would have a devastating impact on established neighborhoods, existing and planned school campuses, and a church. Property that is slated for residential and commercial development will be significantly impaired. The economic prospects of a town of less than 12 square miles with scarce land available for vitally important commercial real estate development will also be diminished.

Argyle and Northlake will continue to press for Oncor to revise the study map and consider an alternative corridor that makes a short crossing of US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) land in the Grapevine Lake area. Congressman Michael Burgess has requested that Oncor and USACE work together to research the potential Corps property crossing and the process of cooperation between the entities has begun. Both towns will remain focused on the southern route that we have suggested, and we continue to work hard to add to the list of county, state and federal elected officials who have lent their support to the plan.

If you have comments on the Oncor project, it is not too late to submit them to [email protected]

Argyle Comprehensive Plan Review

In a January Town Council meeting, members decided to pause the review of the Argyle Comprehensive Plan and to reconsider some of the work done by the staff. For example, the Council set aside the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee selected from citizen volunteers by staff and will itself choose a replacement slate of citizen volunteers. The Council also criticized the survey used to encourage public participation.

The current Comprehensive Plan review is aimed at promoting commercial development at locations that make sense for the town and will serve the interests of our citizens. The review is also aimed at eliminating Form Based Code, which can give the impression that higher density residential projects are acceptable and was not designed with a town like ours in mind.

Commercial tax revenue will help the school district build the schools they need more quickly without the burden of additional students.  Commercial tax revenue is also needed in Argyle to continue to update our road infrastructure and to build a new police station. I look forward to restarting the project as soon as possible.

Argyle Seniors Update
Submitted by Stella McDaniel

The seniors have changed their monthly date for their luncheons to the first Thursday of each month at noon due to the city office closing on Fridays at noon.

If you plan to attend the March 2nd luncheon be sure to either text or call Stella at 940-391-6686.

We have some new board members that are anxious to help make our gatherings lots of fun. Board members are: President: Stella McDaniel; Vice President: Vivian McLain; Secretary: Jody Bellinghausen; Treasure: Cheron McClintock; Publicity: Gabrielle Su; 2nd Vice President for Decorating: Barbara Livingston; Hospitality: Yvonne Gamble. For more information you may text or call Stella.

CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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