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first_img Facebook Pinterest By admin – January 14, 2018 Twitter Odessa city council The debate on the Odessa City Council about a proposal to restructure the board turned to the city’s eastern sprawl, where the most recent oil boom brought a surge in population and a rush of new construction of buildings and homes.Council members Malcolm Hamilton and Filiberto Gonzales argued the eastward growth stiffs other Odessans when supported by business incentives and public infrastructure investments.And Councilwoman Barbara Graff said she would not approve public incentives for businesses moving in the part of Odessa across the Midland County line, because it “cheats” other taxing entities, like the school and hospital districts.But obscured in the debate were the reasons behind Odessa’s outward expansion: a reality decades in the making and driven by simple realities such as available land where people can build and existing infrastructure necessary to support a new home or a new business.Gonzales had argued, after incorrectly asserting that public coffers do not benefit from growth in the east, that: “We are not growing there because the citizens of Odessa voted on that. We are growing out there because of special interests, people that want it to grow in that area and sell their land.”Indeed, private developers generally expect to profit when they build a home. And a company builds a new restaurant or movie theater in places where they are deemed likely to succeed.But there’s more to it.East Odessa also had viable land, while property to the south and west carries constraints. That’s true too in north Odessa, which also saw a boom in new homes and businesses in recent years.“There’s a lot that’s being generated by the cinema out there, the restaurants out there,” Mayor David Turner said. “Is it perfect, no? But unfortunately we live in a city that is surrounded by ranches. Some of them want to sell, some don’t. And there’s an old oilfield.”In east Odessa, he added in a later interview: “That’s where the land was.”Developers building east faced fewer obstacles from oilfield infrastructure like pipelines than if they had built in other directions, said Drew Crutcher, a civil engineer and former economic development volunteer. Another one of the main driving factors of eastward development is access to sewer lines.“There are possibilities for infill development but when you are talking about large portions of the city, Odessa is growing to the east,” Crutcher said. “Midland is growing to the west. There are reasons for that. And it’s infrastructure that can be extended.”In south Odessa, in addition to the industrial areas that include petrochemical and power plants, outward growth is constrained by sewer lines.South of the city’s sewage treatment plant at 9600 South County Road 1325 (which is in Midland County), lines would have to flow uphill, meaning much greater cost.To the west of Odessa’s city limits, there’s another problem: unincorporated West Odessa. Annexing West Odessa would come with tremendous cost. Roads are often not up to city code. Key infrastructure such as sewage lines often do not exist. Development in many cases didn’t factor in drainage.And many West Odessans would likely oppose being annexed anyway, said District 4 Councilman Mike Gardner, who grew up there. They might not want to pay the greater taxes that come with living in the city or deal with city restrictions that could affect things like their pets or livestock.“So isn’t it logical that you would go to areas that developers want to build and people want to build up the community?” Gardner said.For years, that has also included Gardner’s district, such as the building boom in the 87th Street area. But development in north Odessa is also limited by an airport and an oilfield to the west.Odessa’s outward growth also stems from the work of city planners and a few ranching families in the 1950s on land stretching north of Yukon Road to the south below Interstate 20 and east into Midland County.The ranchers worked with city officials and oil interests to reserve spaces for current or future development in exchange for an agreement not to drill for oil and gas on the remaining land. The arrangement would allow land owners to finance their projects, able to assure lenders that production would not encroach.It made building homes and businesses easier.Some of the arguments against supporting east side development on Tuesday were based on incorrect or incomplete information. For example, the infrastructure costs of installing water and sewer lines that Gonzales and Hamilton railed against are chiefly paid for by developers, even though it’s true that the city does bear costs of maintaining roads and utility lines once they are built.Gonzales had pointed to the county line and said “anything and everything that we build here or that we give money to is not a benefit to Odessa. It’s not a return on investment.”At one point, District 2 Councilman Dewey Bryant reminded fellow council members of the Odessans who live there.“Are they not a part of this city?” asked Bryant, who represents them.But Hamilton had made the same argument, ignoring realities like sales taxes injected into city coffers to fund citywide projects, new jobs for Odessans and new homes for families that need them.He argued for a heavier hand in development by the city.“How about we spread out the development throughout all of Odessa so everyone can see some type of return on their investment?” Hamilton said.Today, the city is trying to channel development into its long blighted downtown. That strategy of enticing development costs millions: more than $30 million invested in the hotel and convention center project, plus millions more in building purchases and improvements, along with other dedicated resources. The city’s long-range plan calls for similar targeted redevelopment efforts in the future throughout Odessa.But the recent debate is poised to continue, with Gonzales saying he planned to keep bringing up the discussion at City Council meetings and the perceived influence of east Odessa forming a key part of the argument by a group opposing the plan to restructure the City Council.And more east Odessa development lies ahead. That includes the more than 850-acre Parks Bell Ranch development in the area north of Highway 191 and east of Faudree Road.Just before the debate on supporting east Odessa, the City Council approved a zoning request for part of the project on Tuesday, with Hamilton the lone dissenting vote.“Who are we to say where we grow the city at or we don’t grow the city at?” Gardner said. “A city that’s not growing is dying.” Pinterest WhatsApp WhatsApp Previous articleClark taking on Court at Law officeNext articleGUEST VIEW: Schumer is running on fumes admin Why Odessa grows east Facebook Twitter Local NewsGovernmentlast_img read more