After 12 years of discussions between Tomlin Investments and the City of Howe, an agreement was reached and a round of applause broke out at the city council meeting on Tuesday night after the council members voted unanimously of an annexation of approximately 469 acres located between State Highway 5 and US Highway 75 along Blythe Road.
The city put together a Chapter 380 Economic Development Program and Agreement that would allow for the developers to reinvest for future infrastructure development.
The development will take 36 to 48 months to be recognizable as a future site due to the process of constructing a wastewater treatment plant to serve the development and eventually the entire city.
“This has been going on for quite some time,” Howe City Administrator Joe Shephard told the public. “There have been many many meetings between city representatives and Tomlin Investments. We’ve worked out an agreement that we think is both beneficial to the city as well as the investment company that will form a district to finance the infrastructure.”
Shephard said that the best part of the agreement is that there will be a sewer treatment plant at the southern tip of the city in which the city will be able to tie into it in the future.
The city and Tomlin Investments agreed to a five-year period where Tomlin must meet certain criteria in order to qualify for the agreed upon reinvestments. Current and future Howe taxpayers that are not located in the newly created district will not be affected on any reinvestments provided to Tomlin Investments – only those within the new development.
Shephard commended City Attorney James Tidwell and City Engineer Bob Helmberger on their efforts to move this deal forward with Tomlin.
“We just asked that the city be treated fairly and these guys did a great job,” said Shephard, who then personally thanked Tidwell.
Scott Norris, representing Tomlin Investments told the council that the sewer treatment plant should be in operation in 36 to 48 months and that the paperwork is ready to be submitted to the State of Texas.
“We are going to spend an exorbitant amount of money and we’re going to get a portion of that money back,” said Norris. “Our reimbursement comes from our future residents and they’re treated just like your current residents with police and fire protection that are already in place for Howe citizens.”
The development will include commercial property designations on both US 75 and Highway 5 that is in the Howe sales tax base. The home values in the new development are expected to be in the $250,000 range to begin and migrate upward.
The city says that the agreement will retain a portion of the taxable amount within the district. The eventual wastewater treatment plant would allow for the separation of the current sewer contract through the City of Sherman that sees the City of Howe paying the rate of a commercial business. It has yet to be determined who will own and operate the treatment facility upon completion, but the cost of sewer for citizens should be well reduced due to the eventual extinction of the current contract.
The district will also make water improvements to the development and construct a storage container for water. The addition of homes will be able to reduce the water cost to Howe citizens due to the addition of homes sharing the cost.
The benefits to Howe and Howe citizens are not only the reduction of utility costs but the new opportunities that come with new developments.
In a recent citizens survey, the number one want and need was indicated to be a grocery store.
“In order to attract a grocer or other retail centers to improve the quality of life and bring jobs, those companies have to have a certain population criteria in order to qualify,” said Howe’s Economic Development Director Monte Walker. “With the addition of Summit Hill and this future development, the city is getting closer to reality for those opportunities.”
The residential growth that inspires the commercial growth will feed the local city’s economy which will result in better streets, parks, and overall infrastructure. Currently, Howe has the least amount of sales tax revenue for any city along Highway 75 or Interstate 45 from the Red River to Palmer, Texas – which is 28 miles north of Corsicana.
The round of applause after the motion was passed was in part due to the finalization of hard work by many involved for many years. But it also may have also been for the sudden realization that the financial opportunities that will soon begin for Howe have finally come to fruition.