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Slaughterhouse debate shows Navarro’s need

We find ourselves again contemplating the need for a legislative change that empowers county governments with comprehensive land use authority in the midst of the ongoing opposition to the planned slaughterhouse project on our southern border.
The land use and development case has been a battle since its initial rejection by Ellis County in November 2009. Because of Ellis County’s geographical position next to a county with a large population, we have land use authority to deny a slaughterhouse if our residents wish it, which is what happened here.

Navarro County, on the other hand, enjoys no such geographically derived luxury. This becomes a situation where the right of business to exercise unfettered development practices is going to bite residents along the southern edge of Ellis County.

Local opponents to the slaughterhouse project are outraged by plans that call for wastewater dumping practices that could actually endanger the environment along the Ellis County-Navarro County line. The encroaching smell of a slaughter facility is also a huge concern, as some estimate the odor will drift for miles with the winds.
Opponents appealed to District Attorney Joe Grubbs with a case for being able to regulate the facility’s use of roads in Ellis County, but to no avail.

For years, larger metros and high-population districts have called on the state Legislature to give Texas county governments more ordinance-making authority in land use cases, but efforts to that effect have faded year after year. The fact that Ellis County had the power to nix the development (even as it moved a mere stone’s throw away on a parcel of land that straddles the Ellis-Navarro line) shows there are a few teeth in the county’s regulations, however.

We want to be clear we aren’t against development. Those projects with the potential to harm property values and quality of life need closer examination and regulation than Navarro County currently has the authority to exercise. We aren’t the first to call for it and hopefully we won’t be the last — the state should have given county governments comprehensive land use authority a long time ago.

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Posted by on Jul 14 2010. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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