County implements new requirements for subdivisions to head off future problems
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

April 6, 2006 -- With the growing population in Hopkins County and the start of new residential developments, steps are being taken by elected officials to establish a set of standards for subdivisions to help in their development and to prevent problems in the future.

The original code regulations, drawn up in 2003, have been revisited by county commissioners and County Inspector Jerry Pierce, the county's code enforcement officer.

"We decided we would go back and do a revision of the subdivision rules to beef them up and  sort of give developers a little more knowledge of what the state law is and the exceptions are, as far as Hopkins County is concerned," Pierce said.

The Local Government Code, used across the state, contains subdivision platting requirements with more than 10 exceptions to those requirements. Everything else must be platted.

"Hopkins County ... added eight additional exceptions to the state requirements," Pierce said.

Among the requirements and exceptions in the county is one that addresses construction of roads in new subdivisions to have the roads meet the county's specifications.

"A lot of people are taking farms and subdividing into smaller acreages," Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap said. "One of the problems we have run into is some people are wanting to divide them up to smaller than five acres."

In order to do that, the judge said, the property would have to be platted, something some developers do not want to do.

As the new subdivions are constructed, developers also build streets or roads for access to the properties, and the county has already experienced some problems with substandard road conditions within new developments, according to Pierce and Millsap.

"We want to ensure the public is protected and to know if the roads in the area being developed are public or private," Judge Cletis Millsap said.

Under the new requirements, new roads in the subdivisions must meet county standards at the expense of the developers so that when, and if, the roads are transferred to the county, those roads will already be in compliance.

"Not all private roads meet county standards," Pierce said. "If property owners in a subdivision wanted the county to maintain their roads, they would first have to petition the county to take over that responsibility."

"We are trying to set up the land in Hopkins County so it will be subdivided and recorded so there will be no legal problems down the road for buyers who come to the county and buy property," Pierce explained. "All we are doing is asking the developers to follow the guidelines established by the state and those established by the county so we can keep our roads improved, so we can we have roads in subdivisions so people can traverse in and out without hardship."

The Local Government Code, state exceptions and the county's exceptions are available for inspection in the county clerk's office or from the county commissioners.

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