Residents in Trinity County tell of water woes

TRINITY, TX (KTRE) - By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

TRINITY, TX (KTRE) –When Trinity County Commissioners were asked to approve the division of land for a new subdivision of Trinity they believed it would be a routine matter.

Now, more than a year-and-a-half later and most of the lots sold, a big issue has come to light that will change the way commissioners handle subdivisions.  It's an issue that has caused months and months of frustration for land-owners

Arlene Matthews bought a lot from Ted Garrison's new subdivision, Twin Oaks, last December.  She had big plans to build a house, a barn and get her horses out there. She told Garrison she would need to get started right away.

"Explained to him I have to move out here immediately because I can't afford two places," said Matthews.

She said Garrison assured her that electricity and water would be available. Tisha Macks said she heard the same thing when she and her husband bought a lot last October.  But months later neither lot owners can live on their land.

"I'm just very frustrated with him," said Macks. "I trusted him.  He lied."

Trinity County commissioners approved Garrison's request to divide some land near Trinity back in 2008. County Judge Mike Evans didn't think to worry since it all seemed up to regulation.

"Requires that a developer of a subdivision supplies a written agreement with a public water system that would provide water to owners at the subdivision," said Evans.

Garrison had an agreement with Trinity Rural Water Supply Corporation. It stated he would pay meter fees for each lot, totaling about $20,000, right after commissioners approved the plan.

"Later on we found out the agreement had not been honored," said Evans.

The fees had not been paid per the agreement, so no water for Twin Oaks.  According to Garrison's attorney they weren't paid because no one needed water yet and the number of lots had changed so the amount of fees needed to be revised.

Macks' family is out $20,000 in a home almost completed. Matthews has struggled to make ends meet since she couldn't move in immediately as planned.

"He stood right there at my gate and told Miss Arlene do you expect me to pay 20 thousand because you two people are the only ones who want water?  We sure did!" Matthews said.

Evans says a criminal investigation may follow, but it's up to the county attorney.  Macks says even if water starts flowing now, there still needs to be consequences for their months of water woes.

This afternoon, an agreement was reached between Garrison's attorney and the water corporation. Around $19,000 was paid and water should be available in about two weeks.

Evans says after this incident, he plans to change the way subdivisions are approved.  He wants developers to not only have an agreement, but to also have designated money put aside before commissioners will approve future subdivisions.

©2010 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.