Apartment developer tries alternative tactic

In News by Reporter News

The developer of an apartment complex that Pearland leaders wanted no part of have approached nearby Arcola, offering the small city a much needed water well in exchange for arranging its utility services.

Not interested in supporting additional multifamily either within city limits or nearby, the Pearland Council recently turned down proposals from the developer, Miller-Valentine Group, that would set up MUD service for the proposed complex.

The development is located outside the current city limits but within Pearland’s ETJ, or extraterritorial jurisdiction.

The ETJ is a designated buffer area just outside of city limits. Each municipality is afforded an ETJ by the Texas law as a way of defining potential growth and future service boundaries.

Last Monday night, Arcola City Councilman Greg Abarr appeared before the Pearland council, asking the city to consider giving needed consent allowing Arcola to enter into an agreement that would provide a city struggling with poverty with its first water well.

“We just don’t have the tax base that would ever support building this water well,” he said. “This is really important to us.”

Pearland Councilman Scott Sherman didn’t sugarcoat his response.

“The folks on the west side of town – and on the east side of town, too – have had quite enough of apartments in this city,” he said. “If we allow this to happen, we would be bringing more apartments into our ETJ.”

“We would like to be good neighbors and help you regarding getting the well,” Councilwoman Susan Sherrouse said, “but we would like to consider our constituents’ wishes to hold the line on apartments.”

Councilman Tony Carbone pointed out that the developer may very well set up facilities onsite regardless, and the apartments would happen whether the City of Arcola gets its well or not.

Sherman wasn’t swayed.

“They didn’t get their way the first time,” he said of the developer, “so now they are going to try the emotional angle.

“I understand your plight,” he said to Arcola representatives. “I think it is completely and totally unfair for Miller-Valentine to have put this situation out there.”

Councilman Keith Ordeneaux touched the subject of shrinking groundwater supplies vs. increasing demand behind a recent push toward using more surface water.

“Even if we did want to allow it, is pumping more groundwater the long-term solution? I don’t have the answer to that,” he said. “I don’t think any of us do.”

Last Monday’s discussion took place during a city workshop, meaning items are discussed, but no action is taken.

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