Tag Archives: Collin County

How to enact moratorium

The city I call home has emerged near the top of an astonishing list of communities.

Princeton, Texas, is among the fastest-growing cities in all of America that have populations greater than 20,000 residents.

The Census Bureau released the figures recently. Princeton logged a population of 17,027 after the 2020 Census was taken, which nearly triple the size of the city in 2010. In 2023, though, the city grew by another 11,000 residents, pegging its population at an estimated 28,017.

Collin County’s growth has been equally staggering, standing at more than 1.2 million residents, according to Census Bureau estimates.

I look around my neighborhood and notice more lots being developed, with housing units being framed and utility lines being connected. I cannot estimate how many I see in my ‘hood; I’ll just suggest that there are possibly hundreds more units under construction.

Which brings me to my point. Mayor Brianna Chacon is tossing the idea around about enacting a single-family and apartment construction moratorium. I don’t know the particulars of what Chacon envisions, but I want to endorse — in principle — what she might want to do.

I have thought a little bit about the courage it has taken for Chacon to pitch this idea. She is a Realtor when she isn’t helping shape municipal policy, which suggests to me she is willing to take an income reduction if it results in a new public policy.

Chacon’s reason for favoring a stoppage in this construction is clearly defined: We don’t have the infrastructure to handle the flood of new residents. Our streets need repair; we have water needs that need improvement; we will need more first responders on the job.

Chacon said a while ago that Princeton has grown too rapidly, that it needs to play catch-up with the infrastructure it must provide the new residents who are coming here.

I cannot disagree with that. Oh, we also have that mammoth apartment complex on US 380 that has been stalled. It is partially built and only God knows when work will resume on it. My suggestion would be for the city to pull the plug on that boondoggle, knock it down and turn the site into more green space. But that’s just me.

I like living in a city that is attractive for others who want to live here. However, enough is enough … or so it seems, as Princeton continues to lead the way in urban growth.

It’s like riding a bike

One of the things I discovered immediately upon taking up this gig as a freelance reporter is that I retained my ability to craft a human-interest feature story.

I spent the bulk of my nearly 37-year career in print journalism as an opinion writer and editor. Before that, though, I broke in the way most reporters do, writing general-assignment news stories and features about interesting individuals.

My full-time print journalism career ended in August 2012 and I was, to borrow a phrase, sent out to pasture. Then my wife and I moved to North Texas and I started working on a freelance basis for a husband-and-wife-owned group of weekly newspapers. My beat, such as it is, covers mostly Princeton and Farmersville.

That’s when the realization struck. I hadn’t lost the touch I acquired when I was starting out pursuing this joyous craft. I am not going to fill you with false bravado about the quality of the work I have done for my new bosses. Suffice to say, though, that they can depend on me to deliver them what they seek in a timely fashion. Deadlines, man, are everything in print journalism.

I also have determined that communities such as those I cover in Collin County still depend on local newspapers to tell their stories. It certainly is true that the digital age of journalism, the COVID pandemic and political pressure from on high all have had an impact on our influence in people’s lives.

However, community journalism is still kicking in Collin County, Texas. I am delighted to be able to continue to contribute to the telling of those stories to people who constantly tell me they still relish the feel of an actual newspaper in their hands.

Traffic woes to mount

The more I think about the decision to bring a huge new shopping complex to Princeton, Texas, the more I also have to think about one of the consequences of that massive new business endeavor.

Traffic, man!

When I travel through this part of Collin County, I hear a bit of chatter about how Princeton is becoming a city motorists should seek to avoid. Why? Because the traffic along US 380 becomes impossible … and impassable!

Just yesterday, in fact, I was coming home from an outing in Tarrant County. I drove across Fort Worth, along the Sam Rayburn Tollway and then high-tailed it to US 75 northbound. I made the exit onto US 380 in McKinney and started to head east toward the house.

Then I stopped. And waited. And waited some more for the traffic to move. It did. It took a while!

The Princeton City Council has approved a 91-acre parcel to be developed into a major shopping complex on the north side of 380. I favor the decision. I want the business to come to the city I call home. I also wonder about the wisdom of the council’s decision. Why is that? Well, I covered a Farmersville City Council meeting a couple of years ago and watched that council reject an apartment complex because — here it comes — of the traffic problems it would create.

Princeton’s council seemingly doesn’t have such concern, as it approved a mammoth apartment complex a few hundred yards east of where the shopping complex is planned. Work on that project still appears to be far from finished, but when it’s done, it also will spill hundreds of vehicles onto the highway every day.

Maybe I should look at this issue more strategically. Texas transportation planners are hoping to build a freeway bypass around Princeton …. eventually! It is designed to relieve traffic congestion on 380. Last I heard, though, the state is a long way from turning over any dirt on that project.

That work likely will outlive this old geezer’s time on Earth.

Don’t misunderstand me, as I am not going to reverse myself and oppose the business complex. I am a pro-biz guy and the revenue the shopping complex will generate will be very good for this city.

We’d all better prepared ourselves, though, for some major teeth-gnashing as we seek to get home in time for dinner.

Democrats seek ‘all-blue vote’

National Democratic Party officials are asking those of us who fear the possibility of a Republican return to power in the White House to do something I find objectionable.

They want us to “vote all blue” throughout the ballots we are going to get on Nov. 5.

I am afraid I cannot do that. Voting straight-Democratic Party line at election time runs counter to my firmly held belief that voters need to examine every race individually and determine who is the better candidate for every position being contested.

I am planning to endorse the Democratic nominees for POTUS and for U.S. Senate in Texas. That’s no surprise to those who read this blog. What might surprise some of you is that I likely will cast my vote for Republican candidates farther down the ballot. Moreover, I am keeping an open mind on the race for the 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House.

I happen to be acquainted with several candidates running for public office in Collin County, where I reside. They belong to both major parties. Am I going to punch the straight-party spot on the ballot without even considering the candidates who represent the other party? I cannot do that in good conscience.

Good government requires voters to exercise their due diligence. I consider myself to be a good-government progressive, which requires me — according to my own definition — to ensure I know the candidates’ stands on issues pertinent to the office they seek.

We have many good men and women running for public office in this county; many of them happen to be Republicans.

Do I want the Democrats to retain the White House? Yes! Do I want the Dems to strengthen their grip on the U.S. Senate? Again, yes. Do I want them to take control of the U.S. House? Ditto on that, too.

There are compelling issues at stake at the presidential and congressional levels. That is as far as it goes. Voting “all blue” means casting aside worthy candidates for the Texas Legislature and for countywide offices that in reality shouldn’t even be considered on partisan ballots.

I’m in on the “all blue” initiative … to a point.

Everyone loves animals

Collin County’s Commissioners Court has received a heartfelt lesson from some of its constituents … which is that we shouldn’t mess with efforts to take care of our furry friends.

That was the lesson delivered at a Commissioners Court meeting today as the five-member governing panel got ready to send a $683 million bond issue to voters to decide in November.

Part of the package includes a $5.7 million proposition to expand the county’s animal shelter compound. The proposition will be decided on along with four other propositions in the total bond issue.

My prediction, based on what I heard today? County voters are going to want to spend the money to improve county’s animal welfare system.

I want to be clear as well on the rest of the bond package: It looks like a good deal for the county, as it takes care of essentials, such as law enforcement, roads and highways and parks.

The folks who crowded into the Commissioners Court meeting room today, though, spoke only about animal welfare … which, the more I think about it, the least surprising it is to me.

I have covered a lot of issues over many years involving animals, namely dogs and cats, domestic pets that depend on human beings to care for them. Almost without exception I have witnessed the public rise up and speak on behalf of our furry critters. Indeed, I would hate to be the sorehead who speaks to a public hearing and disparages animals that have been abandoned or brutalized.

Collin County Judge Chris Hill, speaking at an Aug. 7 meeting in which commissioners received the proposed bond issue package, argued that the county might not need to spend the $5.7 million it had allocated for animal shelter expansion and renovation. His notion was voted down by his colleagues on the Commissioners Court.

Did he say a word endorsing his previous position before a packed house in the county courthouse Commissioners Court chamber? Don’t make laugh out loud!

I reckon he knew better.

County calls out TxDOT

Texas transportation planners apparently believe that what they giveth they can taketh away without being challenged.

Not so fast, according to Collin County’s Commissioners Court.

Commissioners have sent the Texas Transportation Commission a letter requesting the state return $490 million it had set aside for highway improvements that run through the heart of one of Texas’s fastest-growing counties.

Full disclosure: I live in the area affected by this still-growing dispute between the county and the state.

The letter references work planned for U.S. Highway 380 and Texas Spur 399 in McKinney. The 380 project includes a freeway bypass that TxDOT is considering for Princeton, as well as several other communities within the Collin County boundary. TxDOT wants to divert the money for high-occupancy vehicle lanes in Harris County.

Collin County commissioners are having none of it. Nor should they.

TxDOT has gone through a number of public hearings, taking hours upon hours of public comment on the impact of the highway improvements planned for cities such as Princeton, Farmersville, McKinney, Prosper, and Little Elm.

Now it wants to yank a sizable portion of the money it had set aside for that work to build HOV lanes in Houston?

I want to stand with Collin County’s Commissioners Court on this matter. I likely won’t live long enough to see the completion of the massive project being planned for Highway 380, but I damn sure want the state to listen to this elected governing board, which has stated in unambiguous language that it wants the money restored.

“Mobility is part of what drives the strong economic engine of North Texas and specifically Collin County,” commissioners wrote to the Transportation Commission. “A delay on such critical projects can have an impact on state revenues” and would have a negative impact on air pollution associated with traffic congestion in the region, they wrote.

Those of us who live here and who have to tolerate the stand-still traffic patterns along Highway 380 shouldn’t tolerate this takeaway of public money.


That was some storm, sweetheart!

My dear Kathy Anne …

Several friends of ours have suggested I write to you personally. They say I should put pen to paper. But as you know, my penmanship has gone straight to hell, thanks in no small part to the journalism career that ruined my once-graceful hand.

I hope you’ll settle for a typewritten note, sweetheart.

Know for starters that I miss you every waking hour of every day. We all miss you. It’s been a struggle since you left us. That damn cancer was brutal beyond anything I could imagine.

It’s been a dark journey so far, but I have been able to write about it on my blog and it has given me some comfort along the way.

But … I have some good news. I am able to smile a bit when I think of you. Take what happened here last night. We had a whale of a thunderstorm roar through Collin County. Tornado sirens were blasting. I saw some walnut-sized hail on the yard.

I thought of the many times we talked about missing the Gulf Coast storms we witnessed when we first moved to Beaumont in the spring of 1984. Remember how they boasted in the Panhandle about the thunderstorms there? Well, we always joked between ourselves that the coastal storms had the Caprock storms beat all to hell.

We lost power twice during the night. Not to worry, though. Peter and I had flashlights ready. Toby the Puppy got a bit anxious, as did the kitties that came with Peter. Just so you know, Macy and Marlowe are acclimating nicely in their new digs here. They have reached a sort of an accommodation with Puppy: It’s his house, but they are free to roam about.

We are adjusting to life without you, my darling bride. Indeed, I don’t believe I’ll achieve that level of normality as I once defined it.

When life was “good” for me, it was because of you. I cannot claim to be “good” these days. I am getting better. I get rocked back occasionally, but I understand now that it’s to be expected.

I’m just trudging along. I’ll write you again. I promise. Just know that I miss you beyond all humanly measure.


City bustles … to what end?

As I drive through the community I call home I am filled with wonder — that to be truthful borders on awe — at all the construction activity I am witnessing.

Princeton, Texas, is a city on the move. I am still trying to wrap my arms around understanding its destination. I don’t yet know where Princeton is going or even how it intends to get there.

I know I am going to miss a project or three, but I am witnessing …

Burgeoning neighborhoods sprouting up south of my home. There’s a new development rising out of the North Texas dirt just west of the subdivision where I live; that subdivision, by the way, is now officially “closed” to new development.

Just north of a bank branch on U.S. 380 I have witnessed work crews preparing a large section of land for development. I asked a banker at said branch the other day what’s going on. I am reluctant to give you the specifics of what she said, but spoke with authority in telling me of two major businesses going onto that property.

A gigantic luxury apartment complex is rising next door to Wal-Mart just east of us.

Car washes are going up, along with storage warehouses. The Princeton Herald recently published a story about a complex of single-family rental homes being built south of me along FM 982.

Oh, and then we have all that street work along Second Street, Main Street, and next to Veterans Memorial Park in what I refer to casually as “downtown” Princeton.

The city is undergoing explosive growth. Every demographer, economist, urban planner knows what’s happening here. What I want to learn more about, though, is where it ends up.

What kind of a city will Princeton become? A commercial hub? A recreational destination? A bedroom community with lots of homes filled with families who will need travel to Plano, McKinney, Frisco, Allen to “do something”?

My wife’s recent passing has produced a spate of phone calls and other messages from real estate investors asking if I want to sell the home we purchased in February 2019. Are you kidding me?

I have to stay and watch this city continue to evolve.


‘Fun’ coming to quick end

That was fun … actually, it wasn’t fun at all.

The wind roared through Collin County. The tornado siren in our Princeton neighborhood blared. The rain fell in a torrent. We didn’t get the baseball-sized hail the forecasters had thought might pummel us.

Toby the Puppy was a bundle of nerves. So was I, truth be told.

They told us the storm would blow through quickly. And it did.

More wind is in store for the rest of the night and into the morning. Then it will be a good bit chillier around here.

Hey, that’s OK with me. March has arrived like a roaring lion, folks.


In defense of where I live

I haven’t lived for very long in Princeton, Texas, but I am hearing some buzz out there from those who aren’t impressed with the community that Princeton is becoming.

A candidate for a city council seat in another city spoke about the growth that is coming to that city.

The candidate said the community shouldn’t become another Princeton. I didn’t challenge the statement in real time. I will do so now, but just briefly.

Princeton is in the midst of a growth explosion. The 2010 census figure of 6,807 grew to 17,027 when 2020 rolled around. The latest census count is obsolete, as city officials have told me they believe the population of Princeton now is closing in rapidly on 30,000 residents.

The housing boom is fueling the growth. What is not happening, at least not yet, has been the arrival of significant new commercial or light-industrial development.

The single-family residential construction and apartment complexes that are springing up serve as an indicator that Princeton must hold some attractiveness to individuals and families looking to relocate.

I see evidence of increased commercial expansion along U.S. 380. Strip malls are being completed; they contain a variety of businesses. I have heard rumblings about a major grocery chain opening an outlet in Princeton.

I will concede one point about Princeton’s lack of community identity: It has no “downtown district.” Princeton needs a city center, a place that identifies the community, where its nearly 30,000 residents can congregate.

However, I am glad to have chosen Princeton as my new hometown. I tell folks all the time that the city is a “work in progress.”

Give it time. That’s all it needs.