County court mulls new rules; deputies cited

Commissioners to hold workshop in fall after reviewing proposed changes to septic regulaions

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light
Ellis County Sheriff's Deputy Brian Griffin (left) and Sgt. Tim Bulot (right) pose with Sheriff Brad Norman after the two were presented with the Human Life Saving Award at Tuesday's Commissioners' Court meeting.

Residents in rural parts of Ellis County may soon have to abide by new standards for septic systems after the Commissioners’ Court reviewed proposed amendments to existing rules during its Tuesday meeting.

Commissioners voted after a public hearing to schedule 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 primarily reorganize the text, require registration for maintenance providers and electronic submittal of inspection reports, address non-single-family systems, update surface application system requirements and update complaint actions for immediate threats to public health, adopt minimum sizing requirements and design criteria, and make other related additions, deletions, and changes.

County director of development Alberto Mares told commissioners the changes are intended to make it easier for citizens to comply while increasing overall public safety. Once approved by the county, the amendments would go before the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for final approval.

Among the major changes set forth, installation of septic systems would only be allowed by licensed installers, and maintenance providers would have to register with the county every Jan. 1 at no charge. Mares said the registration would be a benefit to landowners who are looking for an installer.

The court had previously considered making changes to septic rules in 2018, but Precinct 3 Commissioner Paul Perry, who was on the court at that time, said there were some provisions that created a conflict, so the changes were set aside.

Balking at some of the regulations in the new rules as “too much government,” Perry suggested the county conduct a workshop this fall to go over the changes.

All four commissioners and County Judge Todd Little were present.

Other items

• Sheriff Brad Norman presented the Human Life Saving Award to Sgt. Tim Bulot and Deputy Brian Griffin for their actions on Feb. 28 to assist a teenager who had accidentally shot himself. Norman noted that it was the second time Bulot had received this award.

• The approved consent agenda included previous meeting minutes; acceptance of various reports; separate interlocal agreements with the cities of Ennis and Milford; interlocal road work between Precinct 1 and the city of Garrett; acceptance of continuing education hours for commissioners; payment of property tax refunds; and salary supplements for two County Attorney Office employees.

• A one-time variance was granted to a 5.489-acre property for not meeting the minimum road frontage requirement. The property is located on the west side of Nokomis Road in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of Red Oak.

• A performance bond request was tabled for a 16-acre property on the east side of FM 878 in the ETJ of Waxahachie.

• Commissioners approved a plat for the Jordan Run Phase IV development. The 98.218-acre parcel is located south of Makala Drive in the Midlothian ETJ.

• Commissioners authorized solicitation of bids for inmate medical services. The current agreement expires Sept. 30.

• Three Volvo dump trucks, a Cat excavator and a Freightliner day cab owned by various precincts were declared surplus.

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

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

• Commissioners approved the use of $43,030 of American Rescue Plan Act funds to match a proposed project 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 provisional, pending a legal review.

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

• A resolution was approved seeking a backlog improvement grant from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission to establish a managed assigned counsel program.

• Following an executive session, the court agreed to contest the Selinger Shankle Road Municipal Utility District and to retain the Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP firm as counsel in the matter.

• Also following the executive session, the court took no action on a material price increase request from Cleveland Asphalts due to a rise in costs.