As the Temple City Council voted on additional funding for the 1-million gallon Pepper Creek water tower Thursday, residents of the Northcliffe subdivision showed up to make public comments on the issue.
Eleven residents voiced their opposition to the $2.68 million tower while one was in favor of the project intended to increase drinking water to Temple’s growing population.
“We’ve all seen the signs that the city puts up when there are going to be a proposed zoning change on a property,” Mark Mahler, a Northcliffe resident and Realtor, said. “These signs go up before a zoning change happens occurs, giving notice to anyone who might be affected. Why does this kind of notice not occur when the city is involved in a transaction?”
Residents opposed to the tower cited property values in the area and a perceived lack of transparency by the city. Residents said that there was no way of them knowing what was going on that the 156-foot-tall Pepper Creek Elevated Storage Tank would be built next to homes on Claremont Drive. Some said the city should have put signs up to inform residents what was planned for the vacant lot that is filled with trees and wildflowers.
The tower, which will be built south of FM 2305 and west of FM 2271, was approved for construction by the Temple City Council last month as a consent agenda item in a 4-0 vote, with Councilwoman Jessica Walker absent.
Rich Hoefert told the Council he supported the project because the water tower was needed because he had seen a decrease in water pressure over time at his house. Hoefert also pointed out that without the new tower, which would increase water pressure in the area, all property values in the area would fall and not just for those who live in the Northcliffe subdivision.
“I take issue with people talking about property values,” Hoefert said. “If a new water tower, a suitable water tower, a sufficient water tower, is not constructed somewhere in the west side of Temple, we will not have a stable water source. If we don’t have a stable water source, everybody’s property value will plummet.”
The Council voted 5-0 Thursday to approve an additional $26,023 to the construction cost. The funds will go towards the testing of the materials used to construct the water tower, which is scheduled to begin construction later this month.
After public comments from residents, Temple Mayor Tim Davis addressed those who will be affected by the new tower.
“We understand that this is a controversial issue, and we understand that it is not easy,” Davis said. “I can assure you simply that all state and local laws were followed. We, as a Council, feel that nothing was swept under the rug, we would never do that.”