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Request for Vista Ridge Export Permit Extension is Substantial

Press Release Post

Board Decides Request for Vista Ridge Export Permit Extension is Substantial Change

The Post Oak Savannah GCD Board of Directors met for their monthly meeting on October 3, 2017. The meeting started at 5:30 p.m. and was held at the POSGCD office. Approximately 80 people attended the meeting.

John Giesenschlag, a Burleson County landowner and past POSGCD Director, opened up with a public comment. He thanked the Board for their work and said that he supports the District and believes that the District is still the best avenue to have local control of the groundwater in Milam and Burleson Counties.

All other public comments were made during Item 14, Request by Vista Ridge for extension of Transport Permit POS-T-0001d as Non-Substantial Change. After Gary Westbrook, General Manager of POSGCD, gave a brief overview of the timeline involving the Vista Ridge project, legal counsel outlined the three options the District could consider. Option one was to determine the letter request as non-substantial, which would allow the GM to make the decision without a hearing. Option two would be to determine the letter request as being substantial which would require a public hearing. Option three was to take no action and dispose of the request.

Paul Terrill, partner of Terrill & Waldrop and representative for Vista Ridge/Blue Water Systems, followed Westbrook and District’s legal counsel with an explanation of why the request was submitted. Terrill said the request was to extend the transport permit by 10 years to match the existing production permit. Currently, the production permit expires in 2044 and the export permit expires in 2034. Terrill said that because Vista Ridge already has a permit to produce for that time, the request to match the permits was non-substantial.

After Terrill’s comments, eight people participated in public comment. Commenters consisted of local Milam and Burleson County landowners, Lee County officials and landowners, and Chief of Staff for Representative Terry Wilson. Comments were in favor of considering the request substantial and pushing the request to a hearing. Paul Fisher, the Lee County Judge, said that a public hearing would allow landowners an opportunity to voice their opinion and for the District to be transparent.

After hearing all comments, the Directors discussed the item with Director Nathan Ausley abstaining from all comment, participation, and voting.

President Youngblood began discussion by stating the discussion and opportunity for public comment was important, and all input was appreciated. He made clear that with due respect to all, it would be the 10 Directors of the Board who will make the final decision.

Further clarification was made as to what actions the Board could make and what the best option could be. Director Tommy Tietjen said that the only thing to decide was whether the letter request was substantive or non-substantive. He continued by saying he thought the Board should not consider the request until closer to the termination of the current transport permit. Director Robert Ware echoes his thoughts and said that the Board should wait to see what impacts occur on the aquifer when pumping really starts.

Because the letter request was not a legal request, Directors Jay Wilder and Steven Wise said that the request does not follow the POSGCD rules, according to Rule 8.7 and that the requestor would need an application and a hearing to be considered.

The final motion was to deem the letter request to be substantial. The motion passed 9-0 with Director Nathan Ausley abstaining to vote.

Earlier in the meeting, Directors voted to approve changes to Board Policies and to make the Board Investment Policy a stand-alone document. Changes were made to make the District more transparent and to incorporate new legislative issues.

Westbrook also went through proposed amendments to the 2017 budget and explained some of the unforeseen expenses. Additionally, he presented the proposed 2018 budget and advised the Board that it would need to be posted for hearing at the November meeting. Directors approved the proposed 2017 budget changes and moved to set the 2018 budget for hearing at the next board meeting.

Other documents that are to be posted for hearing soon are the Groundwater Well Assistance Program and District Management Plan.

To view the meeting minutes, click here.

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