Bel Air Development: Sherman clarifies costs, responsibilities

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Early site plans show the proposed layout of Bel Air Village. The city of Sherman clarified the costs and responsibility for public improvements and infrastructure within the district this week.

Sherman has finalized plans for how one of its premier upcoming developments will be financed. The City Council approved two plans Monday night aimed at finalizing who will be responsible for financing infrastructure and public improvements in the Bel Air Village development on the city's southern border.

The two items clarified the city's involvement with the project, how much it will pay for public improvements, and how much property owners in the development will pay. In total, city staff believes there will be $11 million of infrastructure 

"A few months ago, we brought the master development agreement for council approval, and that happened in December," City Manager Robby Hefton said. "Since that time,  staff, the developer and his team have been working on finalizing the engineering plans, etc."

The proposed $500 million development will feature nearly 1,000 new homes mixed with multi-family and retail development along the intersection of FM 1417 and U.S. Highway 75 when fully developed. The center and anchor for the development will be a multi-acre lagoon-style water amenity that will be open to the public.

Monday's discussions focused primarily on phase one which will include more than 300 new residential lots.

The Council unanimously approved the first amendment to its master development agreement for Bel Air to clarify who will be responsible for building the city's portion of the infrastructure. Under the modified agreement, the city will finance between $2 million and $2.3 million of infrastructure work, but the construction will be handled by the developer.

Hefton said it made more sense for the city to utilize the same contractors as the developer for this work as they were already in place. By utilizing the same resources, Hefton said there would be less issues with communications with various builders hired by different people.

"Having one developer in charge of the entire project will allow the city and the developer, jointly, to manage anything that might come up," Hefton said. "Having one fell swoop of contractor or subcontractor to go to will make the process much easier for us to manage as well."

The change has also allowed the city to combine various projects related to the development into the same package. Monday's agreement also allowed the city to add about $400,000 of previously-approved water line work to the scope of the contract.

Council member Shawn Teamann noted that the agreement included changes to the roadwork that will take place in the development. Initially, the project was expected to feature a section of four-lane roadway that would taper down to two-lanes for an additional length. The modified agreement only features the four-lane section. 

Hefton said it made more sense logistically and design-wise to focus on the four-lane section for the current phase of work. By doing this, the city will be able to remain below the 30 percent funding threshold for this phase of work.

"We have a better designed project that is easier to manage for less money," Hefton said.

The second portion of Monday's discussions focused on the developer's side of the funding. The council approved a service and assessment plan for the development, which will put a portion of the costs on the residents who choose to live within the development.

While the developer is responsible for about $9 million of the infrastructure costs, he will only pay about $1.9 million of that.  The remaining $7.2 million will be financed through a public improvement district, which will  split the remaining cost between property owners based on the size of the lots.

Costs for homeowners that will be assessed on properties will range from about $16,400 for a 25-foot lot to about $26,700. Hefton said this cost will be paid over time by property owners and will likely come as a portion of the tax bill.