October 28, 2009

Planning Commission Formed to fight Transmission Line

Mason County News

Mason, Texas – In an unprecedented move, the City and County Commissioners have both formally adopted separate resolutions to create the Mason Sub-Regional Planning Commission in response to the proposed LCRA TSC 345 KV transmission line.

This new planning commission is allowed under state statute 391 of the Local Government Code as a way for cities and counties to band together and work to protect and improve the health, safety, and general welfare of their residents.

“Since Mason County has been thrust into this fight over the LCRA transmission line, we felt we needed more than comments, letters, and protests to the Public Utility Commission and the Lower Colorado River Authority,” stated Mason County Judge Jerry Bearden. Bearden will serve as the county’s representative on the newly created commission board, along with Mayor Brent Hinckley representing the city.

“When we learned we could form this commission to protect our citizens, there was no hesitation on our city commission’s part,” exclaimed Mayor Brent Hinckley. There are over a dozen such planning commissions statewide that are fighting the Trans-Texas Corridor and TXDOT.

Under the 391 statute, state agencies, like the PUC and LCRA, are required by law to coordinate their plans and policies with local planning commissions at the regional level. This means any plans LCRA and/or the PUC have to construct electric lines through the jurisdiction of this new planning commission must be discussed in government-to-government meetings before any lines can be constructed through the county. This is outside the regulatory process of the PUC.

“We’ll be sending a letter to both the PUC and LCRA requesting they come to Mason, Texas to begin the coordination process with our planning commission,” explained Bearden. “And, they will have to figure out how to comply with our electric transmission policy,” added Hinckley.
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“This is local control at its finest,” said Mike Dail, chairman of the public relations committee of the newly formed non-profit Texas Hill Country Heritage Association (THCHA). THCHA was also formed in response to the electric transmission line and will be working closely with the new planning commission. In fact, Mike Dail has been named as the third member of the commission board to serve with Judge Bearden and Mayor Hinckley.

Under the 391 statute, a planning commission can develop policies and plans for practically any purpose to benefit the citizens of the region. A commission may plan for development of a region and make recommendations concerning transportation, public utilities, health, education, recreation, agriculture, business, industry, historical and cultural sites, land use, water supply, sanitation facilities, drainage, public buildings, economic, and other items of general purpose.

© 2009 Mason County News: www.masoncountynews.com

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