Opposition to local housing project voiced
during county commissioners meeting
By Sherrie Williams
During a Wichita County Commissioner’s Court workshop held Monday afternoon Lance Windel, a developer interested in building affordable housing in the 1800 block of Johnson Road in Iowa Park, explained his plans if he should receive Texas tax credits for the project.
Windel, owner of LW Development. LLC., in Ardmore, OK., appeared before the Iowa Park City Council Monday, Feb. 8, as well.
Because the land is outside the city limits, but in the city’s ETJ the developer needs a resolution of support from both governmental entities to submit to the state with his application.
When Windel appeared before the city council and explained his project no one from the audience opposed the project, although Councilman Keith Dyer and Mayor Pro Tem Sherrie Williams both stated they had heard from people who live in the area who were opposed to the project. After almost two hours the city council voted to pass a support resolution for that project as well as a proposed apartment project that would be located in the 1500 block of Johnson Road.
However, during the county commissioner’s court hearing the commissioner’s and Windel heard from several residents who live in the area that are opposed to the project.
The project would be an income based housing development.
The company has submitted a pre-application to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, which allows private companies or individuals to apply for tax credits.
If the company should be awarded the tax credits, the proposed project would mean 39 1,300 to 1,500 square foot three to four bedroom homes being built.
However, it was pointed out during the meeting the land is a gravel pit that has been filled with debris over the years and probably would not make a good site for a housing development.
Approximately a dozen people stood up and explained why they are opposed to the project being built at the proposed location, including David Padget, the executor of the family’s estate.
However, Nancy Padget, and Rita and Tommy Britt, family members of the estate, said they support the project and hope to sell the land to Windel.
If Windel’s company should receive the tax credit project the the city would require that the land be annexed into the city limits before water and sewer service would be provided to the development.
In addition to income credits the company would receive, the company would not be billed “normal” property tax.
The property taxes are figured using a special formula using what the rent based homes are rented for.
During the commissioner’s court hearing it was mentioned the company would get as much as a 90 percent break in property taxes the first 10 years.
Iowa Park City Manager Jerry Flemming expressed concern of the cost to the city to provide services to the development with little pay back. He also expressed concern about the gravel pits and the debris that had been dumped there and the ability for the developer to meet certain guidelines for dirt compaction requirements.
Iowa Park City Councilman and property owner in the area Keith Dyer said he is concerned about how drainage from the proposed site would affect the homes south of the property.
“You have had a little bit more time to prepare for this proposal than we did,” Dyer. said to the county commissioners. “The city council had short notice. Since then I have studied this and looked it over and I have several concerns. Johnson Road has parking on either side and I don’t know that it is wide enough for the traffic.”
He then pointed to the map Windel was using to show the site and said after the last big rain Iowa Park had, water got within an inch of the top of the foundation of his home located several blocks south of the property.
After voicing other concerns Dyer said, “I voted for it two weeks ago, but I can no longer support this,” said Dyer.
Dyer pointed out that the county commissioners had weeks to prepare for Windel’s presentation, where the Iowa Park City Council only had a couple of days.
Other people attending the meeting expressed concerns.
“We have lived in Iowa Park 42 years and I was part of the school district for 33 years and our hearts and soul are in Iowa Park. When we started the sell of this parcel of land we met with Mr. Windel and somehow or another we were never informed there were going to be a discussion before the Iowa Park City Council. So we missed out on that. If we had of known we were going to be putting this many rental properties on that land we would have not supported it because of the number of people affected by it. No one has mentioned the school district. I don’t know how it would affect our school district,” said Barbara Padget, the wife of David Padget.
Denny McCarthy said his concerns includes drainage and the width of Johnson Road with parking on each side and the increased traffic.
Windel argued his project was not that different from the other proposed tax credit project which would be apartments and be located just a few blocks south of his proposed site.
That project proposal would include 49 apartment units with both income based and market value apartments.
Commissioner Jeff Watts “asked what made Iowa Park more appealing or favorable than Electra where 39 lots could be had in two blocks?”
Right now Iowa Park wins. You have the top school district that out scores all the other districts and the lowest poverty rate,” said Windel. “I don’t make the rules I just play by them.”
After hearing from several more people who had concerns not only about traffic and drainage but how the project might lower their appraised property value, county commissioners said they felt the Iowa Park City Council should hold a called meeting to revisit the proposal, before the county commissioners voted Monday during their regular Wichita County Commissioner’s meeting at 10 a.m.
Judge Woody Gossum invited anyone interested in this item or other items on the county’s agenda to attend the open meeting.