With another meeting under its belt, the Waxahachie City Council is one step closer to making a decision on the Easthaven Village Development, located at the east end of East Haven Road, south of Lake Waxahachie.
The development is planned as a 3,300-lot subdivision on about 1,140 acres and will be financed as a fresh water supply district.
The Ellis County Commissioners Court has asked all fresh water supply district developers seeking the court’s approval to get approval from neighboring and affected cities and school districts before presenting their plans to the court.
Fresh water supply districts are a funding mechanism, approved by the Legislature, that allows developers to issue bonds for infrastructure improvements within the special taxing district.
Bonds are issued to fund improvements and the developers are reimbursed through property taxes collected by future property owners within the district, typically at a higher rate than most municipalities.
Despite the higher tax rates, developers use added amenities to attract homeowners.
“We believe homebuyers are willing to pay extra costs if it means they’ll receive added amenities that we plan to offer,” developer James Moon told the council at their meeting last week. “Our desire is that this is the type of project every city would want to see in their city. It will be heavily amenity laden with lots of neighborhood parks. It’s our opinion that Easthaven Village is going to be the premiere subdivision or community in Waxahachie. People will want to come, bring their family and friends and the area will see tremendous growth. It’s our anticipation is that it will bring a lot of people and jobs.”
The project is expected to have a value of $800 million to $900 million after the full build out and will feature an 18-hole championship golf course, two school sites, a community center, children’s playground, splash parks and pocket parks.
“This will cause us to have the type of community people across the Metroplex will be talking about,” Moon said. “Waxahachie gives a country type of life with city type amenities. People tell us they have the feeling of being in the country setting but they can still get to amenities within five minutes.”
Moon has said that property owners within the new district could expect a tax rate of an estimated 90-cents to reimburse the developers’ costs.
The city and developers have been meeting for nearly a year to negotiate a development agreement that will cover the expectations for both sides.
The city’s legal representative, Terry Morgan, told the council during a special work session Monday night, that the business side of the development was basically completed but both sides were still negotiating possible repercussions if one side does not fulfill their side of the agreement.
“After talking to Terry we’re trying to do two things,” Easthaven legal representative Clay Crawford said. “I think we’re on the same page as to the business agreement. We need a little more time to figure out what happens if someone doesn’t do what they say they’ll do.”
Crawford and Easthaven engineers answered questions from the council and covered a timeline agreed upon in the development agreement.
“One of the things we see key to the city is that once the agreement is approved the city wants to see something happen,” Crawford said. “You have seen the plans for a community and plans for a golf course and there are certain things that must happen for the development to continue. Unless the construction of utilities starts within two years of the date of the agreement and unless we have a final plat done within 12 months after that and then unless we have a golf course platted and constructed within a certain amount of time the city can terminate the agreement.”
But despite the ability for either side to terminate the contract, the attorneys are still negotiating repercussions for defaulting on terms laid out in the contract.
The first major project for the development is the construction of an offsite waterline from the Waxahachie water treatment plant to the development.
The developers will also go to work immediately on the interim wastewater treatment plant that will be located within the district.
Design, installation and construction of both the 24-inch waterline and interim wastewater treatment plant is expected to take 18 months.
Another major project taking place immediately after the approval of the project will be the design and construction of the internal infrastructure within the district and the widening of E. Haven Road from the district to Highway 55.
The road will be widened to a divided, four-lane road with 100-foot right-of-way.
The current road’s right-of-way is only 60-feet wide.
The construction of the interim wastewater plant, waterline, widening of E. Haven Rd and internal infrastructure within the first phase of the project must be competed before the city will issue the first building permit.
Other projects must be completed throughout the entire timeline of the development and are triggered either by the number of homes on the ground or specific dates.
Moon told the council that within 36 months of the projects approval, the first families should be moving in and holding barbecues in their new backyards.
Moon hopes to have approval from the city at their next Monday night meeting, in order to make a timely request to the county for their approval.
The developers must present their petition to the county for the creation of the district by Feb. 22 to ensure proper time to call for a May election.
If the council and county does not approve the creation in time for a May election, Moon said the project would be delayed at least six months if not a year or more.
Morgan and Crawford both said they would meet throughout the week with City Manager Paul Stevens, Assistant City Manager Michael Scott and Moon.
The group plans to present a final agreement to the council on Monday night for their consideration.
The council will meet at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 5 in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 401 S. Rogers St., Waxahachie.
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