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County commissioners axe housing project

By: Sherrie Williams
After hearing from numerous Iowa Park citizens MOnday, the Wichita County Commissioners voted to not support a resolution for a proposed housing project in the 1800/1900 block of Johnson Road, just outside the city limits of Iowa Park.
Wichita County Judge Woody Gossum started the meeting asking the commissioners if there was a vote for support of the project. There was no comment or motion from the commissioners.
Gossum then told the audience that he would give them a chance to speak because that might make the commissioners reconsider. Each person who wanted to speak would have five minutes.
The crowd was standing room only, that spilling into the hallway.
After James Skinner read a statement in reference to the federal government taking away local control of housing, stating by 2030 there will be no privately owned property, several in the audience made statements.
A number of those attending stated they were totally against the proposed housing project, while others expressed their view and opinions on affordable housing.
Several said they were opposed to the project because of the affect it would have on the surrounding properties’ value as well as the crime, traffic, and the strain on the school district and city.
One man stated he and his family moved to Iowa Park because of a similar housing project going in near his property in another community. Others said they selected a cul-de-sac to live so there would not be a lot of traffic and their small child could play outside.
Others expressed concerns about the strain the additonal children could cause the school district.
According to one person in attendance the school district could see an increase of as many as 75 students, which would require an additional four to five teachers at a cost of about $200,000.
Another expressed concerns that those who lived in the affordable housing would not have the same restrictions as those who live in the near by development.
“Not one person here wants this,” an unidentified female said.
“We don’t need any affordable housing in Iowa Park,” another said.
“What is needed is homes like mine on five acres of land,” said another.
Many of those in the audience stated most of the homes in that area are valued at $200,000 to $600,000 and the affordable housing project would decrease their property value.
After hearing from several, Wichita County Commissioner Barry Mahler made a motion to not support the affordable housing resolution and Commissioner Jeff Watts seconded the motion, then several others made comments including the developer.
The developer explained while the county, city, and school would not receive full property taxes they would receive some. He broke down the approximate amounts each would receive annually which included county, just over $5,000, school district just over $12,000, and the city just over $8,000.
He then pointed out a proposed affordable housing apartment complex which would be developed, if tax credits were awarded, on the west side of Johnson Road and 450 yards south of his proposed project.
Several stated they did not want the apartment project either and one felt even the current Woodbrier apartments should be torn down.
As Judge Gossum was calling for a vote on the motion and second another unidentified person stated, “We would love to see Iowa Park grow, but not with this kind of people.”
Toward the end of the meeting one of the residents said to the developer, “thank you for what you are trying to do.”
Because the proposed project was outside the city limits the developer needed a resolution of support from the county commissioners as well as the city council.
With the no vote by the commissioners the developer will not submit the tax credit application for the project.
Gossum called on Iowa Park City Manager Jerry Flemming, who explained the Iowa Park City Council addressed the two housing projects during their regular meeting on Feb. 8, and no one attended the meeting to oppose either project.
The second affordable housing project would be located on the west side of the 1,500 block of Johnson Road. This is the third year Mark Temple with Casa Tierra has applied for tax credits to build an affordable housing project at that location.
Also, this is the sixth consecutive year the Iowa Park City Council has supported an affordable housing resolution north of US 287.
The Leader staff contacted Iowa Park CISD Superintendent Steve Moody and asked if the school district could handle 75 to 100 additional students.
Moody said, “Iowa Park schools has the facility capacity to handle 75 to 100 students in the classrooms. As a district we are committed to providing the necessary resources to educate all students and afford the tools needed to help them become successful citizens. Our mission is to provide a well-rounded school experience in a safe environment that will prepare all students to attain their life goals.”
As for funding for the students, Moody said, “the school would receive additional funding from the state based on added student enrollment and attendance rate. These funds would be utilized to hire additional staff and resources to meet the educational needs our district would face with a large influx of students. The school and community place the education of their children as a top priority. We will continue to equip students with the knowledge and skills required to make a positive contribution to society,” added Moody.