November 30, 2008

County joining planning group

By Ron Maloney
The Seguin Gazette-Enterprise

SEGUIN — County commissioners voted unanimously this week to join a group they hope will gain them access to state officials planning State Highway 130 and the Trans-Texas Corridor.

Kathy Palmer, a St. Hedwig city planner and at-large member of the South Central Texas Sub-regional Planning Commission, Tuesday extended an offer to Guadalupe County that it join the group, which was established last July and so far includes as members representatives of her city, Marion and Wilson County.

Chapter 391 of the Texas Local Government Code provides cities and counties with access to state and federal planners on projects that could affect “the health, safety and general welfare” of the member communities, Palmer told commissioners.

“It allows each entity to bring its concerns or the concerns of its citizens directly to the table,” Palmer said. “This gives your community and other members of the commission the ability to coordinate with members of those government agencies.”

So far, nine of the “391 commissions” have been established around Texas. St. Hedwig decided to meet with its neighbors to try to form one when it realized state officials were planning for a Trans-Texas Corridor route that could bisect their city — and nobody at the state level had contacted St. Hedwig to discuss it.

“By law, they were supposed to come to each municipality and county government, sit down with all of us and tell us how it affected us,” Palmer said. “We’re the second-largest city in Bexar County, and TxDOT had no knowledge of that. They didn’t know who we were.”

St. Hedwig is concerned the state could take new right-of-way for the Trans-Texas Corridor, and the city wants the state to use existing rights-of-way such as Interstate 10 or Loop 1604, she said. Guadalupe County, she noted, had previously passed a resolution of concern about the Trans-Texas Corridor, which could cross the southern reaches of this county or Wilson County.

County Judge Mike Wiggins said his understanding was that the concept behind the “391 commissions” was to provide a pipeline for communication on the Trans-Texas Corridor, but the underlying legislation applied to any state or federal project with local impact. He has discussed the idea with his counterparts in other communities, he added.

“I spoke with Judge (Marvin) Quinney from Wilson County, and his belief is it’s beneficial to be informed of things before they become a done deal,” Wiggins said.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Cesareo Guadarrama III asked if Staples, the county’s newest city which incorporated earlier this year over concerns about State Highway 130’s effect on their northeast Guadalupe County community, shouldn’t consider participation, as well.

Wiggins noted he’d recently attended Staples’ first city council meeting and swore in its mayor and aldermen.

“They’re going to be impacted by State Highway 130, and I think they might be able to benefit from this,” Wiggins said.

Palmer said she’d be happy to talk to Staples Mayor Eddie Daffern and the city’s aldermen.

“They can contact us,” she said. “If any entity in the region wants a place at the table, all they have to do is talk to us.”

Precinct 1 Commissioner Roger Baenziger made the motion to support the planning group — and join it.

“I think this is a really good organization,” Baenziger said. Guadarrama seconded the motion and it passed 4-0, with Precinct 4 Commissioner Judy Cope absent.

Palmer recommended that, like in Wilson County, officials in Seguin consider appointing members of the court or other elected officials to lend the group a little clout.

“What we have found, particularly in the beginning, is that TxDOT tends to ignore you, if you’re not an elected official,” Palmer said.

Wiggins said commissioners would be asked to choose the county’s representatives at a future meeting.

© 2008 The Seguin Gazette-Enterprise

November 28, 2008

The nature of sub-regional group debated

by Paul A. Romer
Temple Daily Telegram

HOLLAND - A group of rural politicians from East Bell County that have banded together to fight the Trans-Texas Corridor look and act like a governmental body, but the state has yet to recognize it as such.

In July 2007, the mayors of Holland, Little-River Academy, Bartlett and Rogers, with help from a special-interest group named Stewards of the Range, created an organization called the Eastern Central Texas Sub-regional Planning Commission. The sole purpose of the group is to quash the corridor, to make sure it doesn’t split up local farmland and school districts.

The sub-regional commission held public meetings with state agencies such as TxDOT, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas branch of the National Resources Conservation Service.

By all appearances, the commission looks to be an acting governmental body.

Fred Kelly Grant, president of Stewards of the Range, said the group has followed the “letter of the law” in the way it was organized.

Others point to the law, specifically chapter 391 of the Texas Local Government Code, as a reason the group should be considered “extra-governmental.”

“Chapter 391 allows regions and subregions to organize, but the governor must so designate,” said Jim Reed, executive director of the Central Texas Council of Governments, which was created under chapter 391. “My understanding is the governor has not so designated. Whether they have legal standing under the state of Texas is under debate, although I don’t think anybody would debate that getting together to solve problems is a good thing.”

A spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry’s office would not comment about whether the subregional commission is recognized by the state. Eight more have been created in Texas over the past 18 months.

Some government officials see the creation of these commissions as an attempt by a special-interest group to twist the law in their favor and introduce more bureaucracy into the planning process.

Since 1965, when Chapter 391 was created, 24 planning commissions have been created in Texas. These commissions, generally referred to as councils of government, encompass all counties in the state.

Bell County and six neighboring counties are tied to the Central Texas Council of Governments, with offices in Belton.

The idea that more commissions could be created using boundaries other than what has already been established is new.

“Why spend money and create another bureaucracy that does the same thing as the council of governments?” Reed asked. “For over 40 years CTCOG has been the vehicle chosen to speak regionally and we’re honored to play that role for all communities in the region, including those who have joined the subgroup.

“We happen to think our vehicle, being recognized by the government at both the state and federal level, is the advocacy vehicle that can receive good results for Texas … Our mission statement is accomplishing together that which we cannot accomplish alone.”

Reed admits the local council of governments has not spent much time on corridor issues that concern the rural subregional commission.

The issue is not vital or as important to all seven counties, he said.

The subregional commission argues that by banding together it has been able to find out more information and play a more significant role in the planning process than would have been possible through the council of governments.

A planning organization from within the council called the Killeen-Temple Urban Transportation Study recently passed a measure that would give rural leaders in East Bell County a place at the table for planning area roadways.

An attempt to expand the jurisdiction of the transportation study is under way with one scenario calling for one member of a proposed 12-member board to represent the interests of East Bell County.

Mae Smith, mayor of Holland, said the transportation study does a poor job of representing the interests of rural east Bell County, and she and her partners are not about to dissolve their board to join an organization where they might have less impact.

Earlier this year, commissioners in Brewster County were invited to be members of a subregional commission being formed in its area. Before making a decision whether to join, the commissioners court consulted with Austin attorney Greg Hudson.

Hudson said he advised commissioners in Brewster County that they were well represented by the Rio Grande Council of Governments.

“Where did they find the authority to create a district smaller than what the governor created?” Hudson asked about subregional planning commissions.

Then there is the question of how the subregionals pay for expenses. Hudson said he sees a real problem if a subregional commission uses taxpayer money.

So far any spending of tax money by the local subregional commission appears marginal. A week ago, Holland taxpayers paid for lunch for the rural commission and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality officials after a two-hour meeting in Holland, Ms. Smith said.

If a subregional commission were determined not to be what it purports to be, its members may not be afforded the legal protections extended to those who serve on a legitimate board or council. In other words, members may be opening themselves up to personal lawsuits.

“They may have a noble cause and have absolutely honorable intentions, but they may want to contact their local city attorney to make sure they have governmental protections,” Hudson said.

Ms. Smith said Holland’s city attorney drew up the resolution form used to create the rural commission.

“I can assure you we are legal,” she said. “If the state of Texas wants to go to court over this, we have documented everything and we are ready.”

Penny Redington, executive director of the Texas Association of Regional Councils, said the rural commission here is “duplicative,” which was one of the issues the law to form the commissions was created to guard against.

“If they have succeeded in creating a commission, there are huge responsibilities such as annual audit requirements and open meetings requirements, to name just two. It’s a serious undertaking, not something you do on a lark, on a whim.”

© 2008 Temple Daily Telegram

November 25, 2008

Guadalupe County Joins South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission

Kathy Palmer, President
South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission

Well it is official! The South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission officially welcomes Guadalupe County to the table.

In a unanimous vote the Guadalupe County Commissioners Court voted to pass the resolution to join our 391 Commission.

We are now made up of the following entities: The City of St. Hedwig, Wilson County, the City of Marion, and Guadalupe County. Between the 4 of us we now cover the following TxDOT roadways: SH1604, US 87, IH10 and SH130 (not to mention numerous Farm to Market Roads) and we look forward to the continuing coordination meetings with TxDOT as well as other state and federal agencies.

Have a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving!!

© 2008 South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission:
Snyders receive "Spirit of Liberty" Award

Ralph & Marcia Snyder recieve "spirit of Liberty' Award
Left to right: Fred Grant, President, Stewards of the Range, Marcia Snyder, Ralph Snyder

Susan Rigdway Garry
Anti-Corridor/Rail Expansion (ACRE)

Ralph and Marcia Snyder, of Holland, Texas, have been fighting against the Corridor ever since it was authorized in 2003. In 2007, they were instrumental in forming the Eastern Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission (ECTSRPC), the first of the 391 commissions that are forming state-wide to protect their areas against the Corridor.

They recently received the “Spirit of Liberty” award at the annual convention of Stewards of the Range and the American Land Foundation held in Austin. This award is given to individuals who work tirelessly to protect private property and their local communities from government intrusion.

Mae Smith, mayor of Holland and president of the ECTSRPC said of the Snyders, “Without their knowledge and dedication to our community, we would never have known what to do or how to fight the Texas Department of Transportation’s plans to destroy our community.”

The ECTSRPC has forced TxDOT to coordinate their plans with the commission during several meetings. The commission also has met with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The Stewards of the Range and the American Land Foundation are property rights organizations leading the fight against the Corridor.

© 2008 ACRE:

November 20, 2008

Council discusses TTC path

Waller County News-Citizen
Copyright 2008

WALLER COUNTY - Mayor Pro-Tem Maurice Hart discussed the continued possibility of the Trans-Texas Corridor cutting a path through Waller County at the Waller City Council meeting on Monday Night, November 17.

Hart is a member of the Waller County Sub-Regional Planning Commission (WCSRPC), which was organized as a tool to fight the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) proposed Interstate 69.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) is working on an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which will provide information on how the TTC might affect Waller County, among other areas. Hart said while it appeared for a time that TXDOT would stop looking at Waller County as a location for the TTC, that apparently is not the case, because Waller County is still in the EIS.

Hart noted that the commission was sending a letter to Texas Department of Transportation “to put them on notice that they have to coordinate with us.”

Hart also shared that members discussed inviting other municipalities to join the Commission, including Hempstead, Pattison, Brookshire, and the Farm Bureau. Hart also stated that some citizens may be invited to join as non-voting members.

For the rest of the article click: [HERE]

November 15, 2008

Coordination Works

Bringing back local control to the communities is making a difference.

November 15, 2008

Kathy Palmer, President
South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission

On November 13-14, the Call America National Convention was held in Austin. I just returned from participating in this event, where the main theme was “Coordination”, and a substantial amount of conversation was had about the efforts around the nation where Coordination has worked. From California to Montana to here in our great state of Texas, Coordination is giving back local control to the citizens and their communities.

In Texas, we have nine 391 Sub-Regional Planning Commissions which invoke the Coordination clause in the Texas Local Govt. Code, allowing the formation of the Commission with two cities, two counties or a combination thereof. The Commissions were formed because of the grassroots movement in the local communities directly affected by the current proposed path of the Trans Texas Corridor, both TTC-35 and TTC-69 but, these Commissions have evolved into more than just a way to oppose the TTC. They have given control back to the local communities for everything from transportation issues, to environmental issues, to Homeland Security issues relating to zip codes and 911 addresses.

I was privileged with the opportunity to speak to several hundred individuals from around the nation, sharing how our SCTSRPC came to be, and I in turn heard from individuals from Montana, California and Wisconsin and the results their efforts in coordination have brought to their communities.
Prior to attending the convention, I made a stop at the TxDOT building in downtown Austin. My intent was to attend the I35/I69 Corridor Advisory Committee Meeting and hear their report to the Texas Transportation Commission however, the posted date of the meeting was incorrect, and I missed it by one day.

Therefore, instead of hearing from the Committee (of which their final report is below as well as an article from WOAI) I had an impromptu meeting with the Associate Executive Director of Innovative Project Development Phil Russel and Public Information Officer Gabby Garcia. I spent about an hour and a half with them discussing various things from 391 Commissions, the I35 and I69 Corridor Advisory Committee reports, to the Segment Committees in the process of formation. It was very interesting to hear things from their side, to say the least.

What came out of both the Call America Convention and my impromptu meeting with the Executive Levels of TxDOT is that Coordination works. Bringing back local control to the communities is making a difference. I would encourage all citizens that really want to be heard to contact your 391 Commissions, your local City Councils, your local Commissioners Court, and to keep up with if not attend the public meetings put out by TxDOT relating to the Corridor Advisory Committees and upcoming Segment Committees ( Corridor Advisory Information ). With all information from all sides, you yourself will be able to begin to better understand the direct impact proposals discussed in these meetings will have on you. That in turn will enable you to be more involved. Remember, knowledge is power and power is coming back to the local levels through “Coordination”. We are making a difference.

Links to SCTSRPC Related Articles:

TXDOT Coordination Letter 7/31/08

TXDOT Reply 9/25/08

SA Express News Article 9/10/08

Wilson County News Article 11/5/08

Links to TxDOT information:

Please note the SCTSRPC does not necessarily support the information contained in these links. They are simply posted here to make it easier for you to access this information without having to go to multiple websites.

I35 Corridor Advisory Committe Article 11/12/08

I35 Corridor Advisory Committee Final Report 11/12/08

2008-2011 TxDOT Statewide Transportation Improvement Program for Bexar County

2009-2013 TxDOT Strategic Plan for Texas Transportation Issues

© 2008 South Central Texas Sub-Regional Planning Commission:

November 14, 2008

Lawmaker files bill to repeal Texas Corridor

by By Fred Afflerbach
Temple Daily Telegram

A San Antonio lawmaker filed a bill that would repeal the establishment and operation of the Trans-Texas Corridor. It’s not the first time he’s done so. In the 2007 legislative session, Rep. David Leibowitz filed an identical bill, but it languished in the House Transportation Committee without a hearing.

Leibowitz spokesman Rob Borja said the legislation may have a better fate the second time around. At least four of the nine committee members will change this session, including the chairman. “Probably most important is there will be a new chairman, because the old chairman Mike Krusee wouldn’t let any bills that were sort of anti-toll road or anti-Trans-Texas Corridor even get a hearing,” Borja said.

If signed into law, H.B. 11 would make the corridor a non-entity, taking it off the state statute, Borja said.

Leibowitz, a harsh critic of the TTC, filed the bill Monday, the first day lawmakers could file legislation for the 2009 session, which begins Jan. 13.

Ralph Sheffield, newly elected state representative for District 55 which includes most of Bell County, said he would not comment without seeing the bill but remained steadfast in his opposition to the TTC.

“I am totally opposed to the corridor,” Sheffield said from Austin on Thursday morning. “We’ll fight for everyone’s property rights in regards to that. I haven’t changed my stance on that. We need to solve our transportation needs, but that’s (TTC) not the right process.”

State Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, also represents Bell County at the state capitol. He couldn’t be reached Thursday, but opposed the TTC in previous statements. He supports improving the state’s current highway system rather than building the corridor.

A commission of elected city and school officials from Bell and Milam County is fighting the corridor by confronting TxDOT on environmental issues. Mae Smith, president of the Eastern Central Texas Sub-regional Planning Commission, said her group would continue to demand transparency from TxDOT regarding the environmental impact study now under way.

When the study is complete, a TxDOT official said they will make it public from 30 to 45 days before sending it to the Federal Highway Administration for an up or down vote on whether to build the corridor.

If the Federal Highway Administration approves building the corridor, then a phase two study will commence, which determines the final site.

© 2008 Temple Daily Telegram:

November 9, 2008

Call America 2008

Coordinating America's Local leaders

November 13-15 at the Renaissance Austin Hotel in Austin, Texas

Hosted by the American Land Foundation and Stewards of the Range

Local leaders are gathering in Austin, Texas, to share their experiences and VICTORIES brought about by our powerful “coordination” strategy.

This is the most important meeting you can attend if you want to save your way of life. Through coordination, community leaders are requiring state and federal agencies to work directly with them at the local level ensuring their local economy, private property, and American way of life is protected.

For more information click [HERE]

© 2008 Stewards of the

November 3, 2008

South Central Texas SRPC Holds First Coordination meeting with TXDOT

Marion City Council votes unanimously joins SCSRPC

On Monday November 3, 2008 the Marion City Council voted unanimously to join our efforts on the SCTSRPC. We welcome them to the table and look forward to making sure their concerns are heard. They will most certainly be a valuable addition to our Commission.

Next meeting: December 18, 2008 2pm St Hedwig City Hall Agenda TBD

We had a great initial Coordination meeting with TXDOT on October 29, 2008 which lasted approximately 2 hours in length.

A substantial amount of discussion was had between our Commission and TXDOT relating specifically to the TTC-35 and how it could possibly affect St. Hedwig and our neighbors. Others present at the meeting were representatives from Marion City Council, East Central ISD, St. Hedwig Fire Department, La Vernia City Council and La Vernia ISD.

We will have a second Coordination meeting with TXDOT in January 2009, date TBD, to discuss in more detail the traffic issues that need to be addressed relating to the expansion of 1604, TTC-35, and other issues. The intent of this meeting is for the 391 Commission to come to the table with specific issues and to offer solutions to those issues, thus making TXDOT completely aware of the cause and effect of any new construction of state roads or expansion of existing roads within our area.

We in the St. Hedwig, Wilson County area and our neighbors will no longer be ignored when it comes to federal and state agencies making changes in our area without them first having a true understanding of what those changes mean to our citizens. We appreciate TXDOT coming out to St. Hedwig’s City Hall for our initial as well as follow up meeting, and look forward to working closely with them not only now, but for many years to come.

Now if we could just have our local radio and television stations start referring to us by name (St. Hedwig) instead of East Bexar County….. we are after all 30.1 square miles in size, second only to San Antonio as the largest incorporated City Limits in Bexar County….but one thing at a time I suppose.

Kathy Palmer, President SCTSRPC

Commissioners are as follows:

President Kathy Palmer Chairman St. Hedwig Planning and Zoning Commission
Vice President Mary Jo Dylla St. Hedwig Mayor
Secretary/Treasurer Susann Baker St. Hedwig City Council woman

Ralph Gerhart Wilson County Resident

Larry Wiley Wilson County Commissioner

Judge Marvin Quinney Wilson County Judge

Kathy Palmer has been invited to be part of the Call America 2008 Annual Conference “Coordinating America’s Local Leaders” in Austin, TX Nov. 13-15. She will be a guest speaker as well as participating along with 2 members of other Texas 391 Commissions and Dan Byfield President of the American Land Foundation in a Q&A panel on Friday during the “Bringing Control Home in Texas” session. For more information on the entire seminar click on

© 2008 South Central Texas SRPC: