Court hires firm for long-range planning

Kitchell, HOK will assess Ellis County’s facilities needs as county grows

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light
Ellis County looks to update its facilities for a growing population.

With rapid changes coming to Ellis County, the Commissioners’ Court agreed Tuesday to begin long-term planning for the growth headed this way.

Commissioners voted during their regular bi-weekly meeting to enter a $316,996 agreement with Kitchell, a professional building services firm who, partnering with design firm HOK, will provide long-range (long-term) planning, conduct an existing facilities needs assessment, and provide construction management services.

The agreement will help the county determine what kinds of facilities improvements may be necessary and develop a long-term plan to implement those improvements. Public meetings and information sessions will be forthcoming later this year to share planning information and gain input from citizens.

In March, Kitchell was chosen from among 14 professional firms to assist Ellis County with long-term construction planning.

Ellis County’s population is projected to grow rapidly in the coming years, with voters recently approving Tier 2 — a policy that may slow the territorial expansion of cities by requiring municipal annexations to be voluntary. For citizens living outside city limits in rural or unincorporated communities, the county government will continue to provide public services for a growing population.

The agreement will provide Ellis County with three primary services: long-range planning, an existing facilities needs assessment, and construction management services.

During long-range planning, all major county departments – from the courts to the jail, and from the tax office to emergency management – will be evaluated to develop an action plan addressing the county’s future facilities needs.

During the existing facilities needs assessment, county departments will be able to incorporate potential improvements of existing facilities into the action plan.

Lastly, Kitchell will provide the county with construction management services to plan new and updated architecture, procure contractors, and oversee the construction process on-site.

Other items

• The consent agenda consisted of approval of previous minutes and various reports; an interlocal cooperation contract between Ellis County and the city of Glenn Heights; a $7,200 payment to Dr. Leigh Nordstrom, the Local Health Authority, for 48 hours of work done in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and several budgetary line item transfers.

• Four new plats were approved: a 7.348-acre property at the southeast corner of Lone Elm Road and FM 875 in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of Waxahachie; a 4.456-acre property on the south side of Boyce Road east of FM 878 in Waxahachie’s ETJ; a 10.062-acre on the west side of Lone Elm Road south of FM 875 in Waxahachie’s ETJ; and a 2-acre property on the south side of FM 875 west of its intersection with Memory Lane within Waxahachie’s ETJ.

• Replats were approved for two lots containing 10.184 acres on the south side of Marshall Road west of FM 664 in Waxahachie’s ETJ changing it to three lots, and for two tracts containing 7.749 acres on the northeast corner of Falling Leaves Drive and Old Maypearl Road near Maypearl.

• The court approved a final plat for the Bella Vista development, a 40.370-acre tract consisting of 31 lots plus one HOA-maintained lot on the north side of FM 875, west of its intersection with Skinner Road in the Midlothian ETJ. Commissioners also voted to release a performance bond and accept a maintenance bond. Both were approved with the condition that erosion control measures are taken.

• The court approved Department of Development fee waivers through the end of the 2021 fiscal year on Sept. 30 for approximately 47 properties in the vicinity of the May 3 tornado near Forreston.

• Commissioners approved upgrades to jail control systems on the second and third floors of the county jail through an agreement with CML Security in the amount of $307,725, including a 10-percent contingency. CML Security was granted a sole-source exemption from the bidding process.

• The court approved the lease of a new copier and the renewal of a lease of a second copier for the Tax Office from Xerox at a rate of $179.12 per month for 51 months; and approved the purchase of a Doosan DX190W-5 excavator with 3-piece boom for Road and Bridge Precinct 4 in the amount of $204,774. Commissioners also approved the purchase of a Kubota compact track loader in the amount of $64,609 for Road & Bridge Precinct 3.

• The court approved a second cash drawer for the Law Library.

• Precinct 3 Commissioner Paul Perry requested a summary sheet of all budget requests by county department heads so that he can make informed decisions on the upcoming budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

• A Salary Grievance Committee was formed consisting of nine members. Three members were picked from the grand jury pool and will be joined by six elected officials.

• The court approved an agreement with the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board for structural repairs to the Mountain Creek 11 dam in northwest Ellis County. The county’s portion of the cost is  $71,800, of which about $61,000 is reimbursable. County engineer Ted Kantor explained that a number of soil conservation structures were constructed in the county in the 1950s, and development downstream from these dams cause some of these structures to be classified as high hazard.