Developers of a new automotive shop along U.S. Highway 75 may need to wait a little longer to learn how the project will receive electricity. The Denison Planning and Zoning Commission recently tabled a request to allow for overhead electric feeder lines along the highway to serve the development amid questions of cost, easements and who would be responsible for the expense.
The proposed electric line would run along the frontage of the west side of Hwy. 75 between Crawford and Stafford Drive to serve the new B&B Automotive location. Under current city ordinance, utility lines are required to be placed underground in highway overlay districts, but the commission could approve the use of overhead lines.
“As a part of the process, they are going through civil design and we have to get them electricity somehow,” Denison Planning Director Steven Doss said.
Oncor Design Supervisor Jeff Key said there were concerns by Oncor regarding the location of where the proposed underground line would be. In most cases, Oncor prefers not to put underground lines within the right of way of the highway. Additionally, there were concerns of existing utilities in the area, he said.
“With the clearance between water, sewer and everything else down there, there isn’t a lot of room to work with,” Key said.
The buried line would also be difficult to expand for future users as the area expands and grows. Unlike an elevated line, Key said the underground line would not be able to be expanded or spliced onto to accommodate new users. In order to add a new user to the line, Key said developers would need to redo the line entirely.
Another consideration between the options was cost. Key noted the cost for a buried line can range between 10 to 20 times to cost of an elevated line. Officials with Oncor were uncertain of the exact cost for the proposed buried line as the exact path has not been determined yet, but estimated it could range between $100,000 to $200,000 or more.
The proposal drew some opposition from neighboring property owners and residents who felt the overhead lines would affect their land. Marita Miller spoke in opposition to the request stating Denison has made efforts to reduce the clutter caused by the lines and this exception would undermine those efforts.
“I want to see Denison grow but grow in the right way,” Miller said.
Peter Krause said he worried that if left unchecked, the use of overhead power lines could lead Denison to look like “downtown Tokyo” with lines going in all directions.
Commissioners considered alternatives, including running the line at the rear of the B&B property as a way of screening the line and pushing it away from the highway. However, the question then became who would be responsible for the cost.
P&Z Chair Charles Shearer asked whether multiple property owners would be required to contribute to the cost if the easement from the line ran along multiple properties. Shearer also worried a significant expense from the buried line could cause a developer to cancel plans for a project.
“We know Oncor won’t pick up the tab, we know Denison won’t pick up the tab,” Shearer said. “Somebody has to pick up the tab, and it’s going to be the property owners who have to absorb or the developer that is going to have to absorb that cost.”
Amid questions on the costs and who would be responsible, the commission ultimately tabled the request until its March meeting in order to take more time to gather information.