Ellis County Court of Commissioners mulls new rules; quoted deputies

Residents of rural Ellis County may soon be required to meet new standards for septic tanks after the Court of Commissioners considered proposed changes to existing rules at its Tuesday meeting.

Commissioners voted after a public hearing to hold a workshop in the fall to review the changes.

The existing order covering on-site sewage facilities was adopted in April 2011. The proposed changes to the order mainly reorganize the text, require registration of maintenance providers and electronic submission of inspection reports, deal with non-single-family systems, update surface application system requirements and update complaint actions for immediate public health threats, adopt minimum sizing requirements and design criteria, and make other additions , deletions and related changes.

County Development Manager Alberto Mares told commissioners the changes were intended to make it easier for citizens to comply while increasing overall public safety. Once approved by the county, the changes would be submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for final approval.

Among the key changes outlined, the installation of septic tanks would only be permitted by licensed installers, and maintenance providers would have to register with the county for free each January 1. Mares said the registration would be a benefit to property owners looking for an installer.

The court had previously considered making changes to the septic rules in 2018, but Compound 3 commissioner Paul Perry, who was on the ground at the time, said some of the provisions created a conflict, so that the changes have been undone.

Reluctant to some of the regulations in the new rules as “too much government,” Perry suggested the county hold a workshop this fall to review the changes.

All four commissioners and County Judge Todd Little attended.

Other items

• Sheriff Brad Norman presented the Human Rescue Award to Sgt. Tim Bulot and Deputy Brian Griffin for their actions on February 28 to help a teenager who accidentally shot himself. Norman noted that this was Bulot’s second time receiving the award.

• Approved agenda included minutes of previous meetings; acceptance of various reports; separate inter-local agreements with the towns of Ennis and Milford; interlocal road works between Sector 1 and the town of Garrett; acceptance of continuing education hours for commissaires; payment of property tax refunds; and salary supplements for two employees of the county attorney‘s office.

• A one-time waiver was granted to a 5,489 acre property for failing to meet the minimum road frontage requirement. The property is located on the west side of Nokomis Road in the offshore jurisdiction of Red Oak.

• A performance bond application has been filed for a 16 acre property on the east side of FM 878 in the Waxahachie YSS.

• Commissioners have approved a platform for the development of Phase IV of Jordan Run. The 98,218 acre plot is located south of Makala Drive in the Midlothian ETJ.

• Commissioners authorized competitive bidding for inmate medical services. The current deal expires on September 30.

• Three Volvo dump trucks, a Cat excavator and a Freightliner day cab belonging to various ridings have been declared surplus.

• The court approved the lifting of an existing burning ban in Ellis County. Fire Marshal Tim Birdwell told commissioners the county was still in drought, but not as severe as other counties to the west and southwest. Birdwell said outdoor burning rules still apply.

• The county’s COVID-19 paid leave policy for employees was allowed to expire, with the option of reinstating it if cases were to increase in the future.

Commissioners approved the use of $43,030 of American Rescue Plan Act funds to match a project proposed by the East Garrett Water Supply Corporation. The project will help the utility meet new regulatory requirements related to emergencies and power outages. The approval was tentative, pending legal review.

• The court accepted a certificate of completion for the County Investment Academy for 2022.

• A resolution was passed requesting a backlog improvement grant from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission to establish a managed assigned attorney program.

• Following a closed session, the court agreed to challenge the Selinger Shankle Road Municipal Utility District and retain Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP as counsel in the case.

• Also following the executive session, the court did not grant a significant request for a price increase from Cleveland Asphalts due to increased costs.

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