North Texas Daily

Denton plans electric hub in neighborhood, remove houses

Denton plans electric hub in neighborhood, remove houses

Denton plans electric hub in neighborhood, remove houses
May 21
01:41 2015

Rhiannon Saegert / Senior Staff Writer

During a public meeting Wednesday, citizens turned out to express their fears and disagreements over Denton Municipal Electric’s plan to build an electrical substation in a residential area south of campus.

DME officials provided literature and answered questions in the Denton Civic Center while about 10 to 15 citizens, some of whom carrying posters, protested Eagle Substation, which will be built to keep up with the growth of UNT and downtown Denton. The block, located on Peak Street, Fannin Street, Bernard Street and West Collins Street comprises 13 homes, all of which could be leveled and cleared in order to make way for the proposed substation.

DME manager of external affairs Brian Daskam said the area is the ideal location.

“This is the first step in the public involvement process so we’ve recognized the need for the substation,” he said. “We know it’s far from perfect.”

He said the meeting served two purposes: to collect feedback and suggestions from residents as well as inform people of the project.
DME still needs to meet with Denton’s utility board and hold a public hearing with the Denton City Council before the project will begin. Daskam said the process could be completed by mid-summer.

“But it could go much slower than that,” he added. “If someone gives a good solution we hadn’t considered, we’ll go back [and] study it.”

Four of the proposed locations were on the UNT campus. UNT spokesperson Julie Payne said those locations conflict with the UNT Master Plan.

DSC_5201

 An aerial view of the proposed electrical substation

“The city did look at some of our parking lots,” Payne said. “We know during the schools year they’re completely full to capacity. We are projected to grow to up to 50,000 students. We’re trying to be as efficient with our space as we can.”

Newly elected District 3 councilmember Kathleen Wazny said she plans to find a better solution.

“Citizens that are from the neighborhood don’t want this project,” Wazny said. “It’s going to displace 13 families, but mostly it will change the whole neighborhood.”

She said there is a possibility the neighborhood, which consists of older homes, could be classified as historical.

“With a historical designation comes some protection so they don’t have to worry about this again, but the first hurdle is to find an alternative location,” Wazny said. “There’s always another way.”

Denton resident Kyle Goodman came to the meeting with signs protesting the station. In the parking lot, a bullhorn attached to a speaker repeated “Don’t take away our homes, build it on a UNT parking lot” from the window of Goodman’s van.

“They’re building more apartment complexes but they’re not building houses. They’re limiting the choices,” Goodman said. “25 percent of the U.S. population is Baby Boomers. Do you think Baby Boomers are going to want to live in 33 North apartment complex with three other people?”

Sendero Acquisitions relocation project manager Kristen Bennett said she was contracted through the company Friese and Nichols by DME to help former renters find new, comparable places to live once the city claims the block.

“After they appraise [the property] and it’s approved by the city, they make an initial offer. At that point, my job is to prepare a supplement, a rental assistant payment basically,” Bennett said. “Shortly after the offer is made, I will bring them that approved amount and a 90 day notice.”

DSC_5183-2

Protestors attended the Denton Civic Center meeting in an effort to stop the destruction of the neighborhood. Kyle Goodman passed out signs in protest and hopes the city of Denton will change the location of the plant.

Bennett said the city will claim the property within 90 days, at which point residents have 30 days to move, but the time can be extended in extenuating circumstances.

Long-time Denton resident Mattie Williams attended in protest of the substation. Williams, who has lived in the area since 2004, said the city has been changing drastically since 2011 as more low-income housing become apartment complexes aimed at students.

“They give you an appraisal on your property and force you to sell,” Williams said. “They have not indicated that they are moving to imminent domain but that doesn’t mean it cannot be a part of this.”

Featured Image: Concerned Denton locals look at a display mapped out by Denton Municipal Electric that will begin in 2017. Denton Municipal Electric will build the electrical substation on Bernard Street. Photos by Hannah Ridings – Visuals Editor

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