Kyle city leaders approved a mechanism to finance improvements for development along Opal Lane during a special called early morning meeting Saturday.
By a 4-0 vote, the Kyle City Council approved a public improvement district (PID) for improvements of 175 acres along Opal and Roland lanes in Kyle, also known as the Driskell Tract.
Getting a vote on the item, however, proved to be a challenge as the city council did not have a quorum at the beginning of the meeting.
Council members Shane Arabie and David Wilson were excused from the meeting due to prior commitments, while council member Daphne Tenorio left before the meeting began.
Kyle’s city council had to wait until District 2 council member Becky Selbera arrived after the meeting’s start before proceeding with a public hearing and a vote on the item.
The PID, estimated at approximately $5.5 million, includes wastewater drainage upgrades and road improvements to handle the increased amount of traffic.
James Earp, Kyle assistant city manager, said the developer of the property, Intermandeco, plans to develop a large residential subdivision in the area that would include single and multi family units.
He also said the development would require wastewater infrastructure and road improvements.
“There’s no sewer in that part of town,” said Earp.
He added the city is currently building the Southside Sewer Project, which allows sewage to be collected at a site at Yarrington Road, and then pumped back to the city’s main wastewater plan.
“The collection system on the western side of the interstate still needs to be built and is one of the fundamental items for this PID,” Earp said.
Road improvements in the area would also be required in order to handle the increased volume of traffic after the development is built, Earp said.
“The roads Opal and Roland are both underbuilt,” Earp said. “Any amount of traffic that would be generated by new development would put undue burden on the roadway; typically developers are required to put money to build half a road, but in this case the developers are rebuilding the entire road.”
The third major item covered by the PID would upgrade the railroad crossings at Opal and Roland lanes to “silent crossings.”
“The city was already moving to have all crossings be silent crossings and these were two silent crossings the city had on its list,” Earp said.
He also addressed concerns from residents that silent crossings would be a safety hazard.
“First thing people think about at silent crossing is the name,” Earp said. “Union Pacific and any railroad’s primary concern is liability, they are not going to agree to not blow their horns unless there are significant upgrades at the crossing.”
Upgrades to crossings that would be designated as silent could include raised medians that would prohibit vehicles from crossing.
However, District 1 council member Travis Mitchell expressed his concern that the money being spent toward silent crossing wasn’t helping to alleviate traffic. Mitchell said he’s given “a lot of consideration” to the PID, even as he isn’t “particularly happy” with the funding mechanism.
“The money we’re spending towards quiet crossings does not affect traffic, just noise,” Mitchell said. “While that’s an inconvenience for folks now; what happens when a train stops in front of Opal Lane for any given period of time with 500 folks trying to get out?”
Earp said Opal and Roland would both have to be closed for that to be an issue, citing that residents should still be able to find ways around the traffic congestion.
Residents also relayed concerns to city staff on who would take on the debt for the PID.
David Snyder, of P3 Works and representative of the PID, said the debt is issued by the city, but the debt falls on the homeowners.
According to Snyder, the total amount of what future homeowners in the development would owe annually is still a rough estimate at this time. He estimated annual payments could go from $860 to as much as $935 per year, per unit.