Tag Archives: Princeton City Council

Homebuilding ban? For now … yes!

Princeton Mayor Brianna Chacon has planted the seed of an idea that needs to germinate and grow into a verified municipal policy.

She wants the city she governs to enact a moratorium on new home construction. Details are scant. Indeed, they don’t seem to exist in any fashion.

But I think the mayor is onto something the city council should consider and should consult heavily with its legal counsel on how to make it happen.

Princeton’s growth has been spectacular over the course of the past decade. The 2010 Census pegged the city population at just shy of 7,000 residents; the 2020 Census lists the population at 17,027 people; the current estimated population stands at around 28,000, according to city officials.

The city has grown too rapidly, Chacon told the council at the end of its regular Monday evening meeting. It needs to stop building residential units at the breakneck pace under which it has been operating.

I am going to report more on this idea in a later blog post. For now I am going to stick with what has been reported.

The city clearly must honor the building permits it has issued. It cannot face any possible litigation from aggrieved builders and real estate agents. And as I drive around the areas near my home, I see many acres of land that have been platted and prepared for construction. The city has installed hundreds of utility outlets on the properties, which suggests to me the city has many building permits that need to be honored before it pulls the plug on future construction.

Chacon reminded council members that the city has limited resources and it must spend that money on developing infrastructure that hasn’t kept pace with the home construction. “We grew too fast,” Chacon told the council.

Streets need improvement, Chacon said, apparently acknowledging the complaints she likely has heard from residents about the condition of streets in some of our older neighborhoods.

I am one Princeton resident who is interested in the details of this proposal that must come soon. How soon will it be enacted? How long does the city expect it to last? Will the city continue its push to bring more commercial development to Princeton?

I am all ears, Mme. Mayor. So, I will bet, is the rest of this city.

It’s all about the turnout

Allow me this brief moment to express my frustration over what I expect will occur in early November.

My neighbors and I are going to vote for Princeton City Council members, for Princeton Independent School District trustees and for a special municipal referendum calling for the formation of a home-rule charter committee.

The frustration, which I expect fully to experience, will be in the abysmal voter turnout.

Mayor Brianna Chacon, who is running for re-election to a full term, is urging us to vote. She laments the historically low turnout for these municipal elections. It well might fall into the single-digit percentage of eligible voters who actually cast ballots on Nov. 2. That stinks to high heaven, man!

How many times must I say the same thing? Which is that local elections bring the most tangible impact on us as voters. We don’t care! Or so the dismal turnouts would suggest. City Councils set our tax policy; they determine the level of police and fire protection we receive; they set policy for trash pickup; they spend money to repair our streets.

The home-rule charter committee decision has me particularly juiced up. Princeton’s population exploded between the 2010 and 2020 census; we now are home to more than 18,000 inhabitants. Texas law grants cities with populations of 5,000 or greater the right to seek home-rule charter governance; Princeton currently is governed as a “general law” city, adhering to laws written by the Legislature.

We gotta change that, folks!

I don’t want to see a miserable voter turnout make that decision. We need to have everyone casting ballots who is eligible to do so.

Are we clear? Good! See you at the polls!


Go slower out there!

BLOGGER’S NOTE — This blog was posted initially on KETR-FM’s website, KETR.org. 

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Princeton City Councilman Mike Robertson is a man after my own heart … speedwise.

He wants to slow motorists down as they travel along U.S. Highway 380, at least while they’re traveling within the city limits.

Robertson is pitching a notion to slow motorists down to 40 mph within the city limits. Currently, the limits vary, from 45, to 50 to 60 mph.

The Princeton Herald is covering this story and it quoted Robertson, thusly: “It doesn’t make any sense to keep such a high speed limit through town.” Yeah. Do you think?

Indeed, U.S. 380 often is clogged with stop-and-go traffic during much of the day. It’s a busy thoroughfare that coarses through the fast-growing community.

The city, though, has limited options. It cannot act on its own because U.S. 380 is maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation, according to the Princeton Herald, which reported: “The city does not have the authority to reduce the speed, however, it has taken measures to slow down traffic within city limits with one new stoplight and they are working on installing a second light.”

Indeed, the addition of signals comports with what City Manager Derek Borg told me about a year ago as we discussed the traffic issues along U.S. 380. Borg is acutely aware of the traffic snarls that occur along the highway and thinks the increased traffic signals, among other things, will help motorists seeking to enter the highway from side streets.

I believe Councilman Robertson is onto something. In fact, when I see the Herald each week, I look at the police blotter section on Page 2 … and what do I see? I often see several instances of “major auto accidents” along U.S. 380. The blotter entry doesn’t designate whether they are speed-related. My strong hunch is that, well, many of them are related to motorists traveling too rapidly along a busy thoroughfare choked with other motor vehicles.

The Herald reports that TxDOT is “receptive” to the idea of slowing vehicles down, but notes any action might require some time for a change to be made official.

Whatever you do, don’t drag your feet, TxDOT. I am one motorist and Princeton resident who backs a councilman’s request to slow the traffic down.

Dial it back, partisans

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The partisan juices are flowing on this Election Day.

We’re going to elect a president and a whole lot of other officeholders up and down the ballot. This morning I had an encounter with a Democratic partisan who, I hasten to add, needs to dial back her political fervor more than just a little bit.

She was wearing a Biden-Harris shirt while sitting in front of First Baptist Church in Princeton, Texas, one of Collin County’s many polling locations. I was there to snap a picture for KETR-FM public radio. I told my new acquaintance I had voted already but was there to take a picture.

After I whispered to her that I had voted for her guy for president, she informed me of the “need” to “elect more Democrats to the City Council and the school board.”

Huh? Eh? What? I reminded her immediately that council and school board members serve as non-partisan public servants. They aren’t affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican parties. She said she knows that, but added that a school board candidate wants to “ban masks” in schools, meaning that the individual is clearly a Republican. No, no, no, I said. We cannot push partisan politics onto non-partisan governing bodies, I admonished her.

Well, I guess that encounter exemplifies the partisan fervor that has hit a fever pitch.

Election Day will come and go. We’ll awaken in the morning to another sunny day. I hope we have a new president waiting to take office. As for the Princeton City Council and the Princeton Independent School District Board of Trustees and their political composition … let’s not inject partisanship into those races. Those folks are in office to the public’s business without regard to which party they might belong.

Now we have a lawn sign

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

What this picture depicts is a lawn sign stuck in the sod in front of my house.

Bryan Washington isn’t widely known outside of Princeton, Texas, where we live. He is running for Place 3 on the Princeton City Council. We chatted this evening in our front yard and I told Washington he had my vote.

“Can we give you a sign?” asked one of the volunteers who walked the neighborhood with him. “Sure,” I said. “Why not?”

That is not a tepid endorsement. I just don’t generally put lawn signs in front of my house. Now that I am more or a less a “civilian” these days — and no longer a full-time journalist — I figure I can declare my political leanings out loud.

What’s kind of cool for Washington and other City Council candidates this time is that the election will occur on Nov. 3, the same date we’ll be voting for president of the United States, U.S. senator, U.S. House members, state legislators and on and on.

I reminded Washington that he will be facing a much larger voter turnout than is usually the case in municipal elections. The turnout for City Council races usually is abysmal, miserable, puny, minuscule. Not so this time.

So, whoever wins the council election will be able to take their seats with a mandate not usually associated with these local elections.

Now, I need to ponder whether I want to put a “Biden-Harris” sign in the front yard. Given the intense passion being exhibited on all sides as we get closer to Election Day, that notion presents some consequences I need to ponder.

Happy Trails, Part 180: Bring on the park!

This blog post might not be of general interest, but those of you who have moved to your “forever home” might appreciate that I am smiling a bit while I write this brief message.

We moved to Princeton, Texas, a little more than a year ago. We settled into a new home in a subdivision that is still under construction. Just a bit south of us — about a block or so away — is a large tract of land that eventually is going to become a park.

Yes, the city is going to build a park. Lots of “green space” will be among the homes that are popping up all around us.

The Princeton City Council recently approved a design contract of $120,550 to start development of the park. Kimley-Horn and Associates will design the park. Get a load of this: It will include hiking and jogging trails, a restroom, a fishing dock and pond, two pavilions and flashing lights at pedestrian crossings.

The J.J. “Book” Wilson Memorial Park came to the city as a gift from a local landowner.

I am unclear when this park will be finished. I never have watched a park being built in real time. This forever home we are purchasing will enable my wife and me — along with our 7-year-old granddaughter — to watch the park come into being.

I happen to believe this is an exciting development in our retired life.

Our retirement journey brought us here for a singular purpose, to be near our granddaughter. She loves to play outdoors when she comes over. I hope she maintains that keen interest while we watch the park being developed.

I do know that her grandmother and I will enjoy the park as we continue to enjoy retired life.

Discovering a curious city council policy

I have just attended my first City Council meeting in Princeton, Texas, where I noticed a curious quirk in the council’s makeup and voting policy.

The Princeton City Council comprises five council members and the mayor. That means there are six individuals on the governing board.

However, as the council was marching through its agenda, Mayor John-Mark Caldwell would call for a vote, asking council members to raise their hands if they approved a measure. Five hands went up; the mayor didn’t vote.

Hmm. I believe that is the first such governing body I’ve seen up close that (a) comprises an even number of officials and (b) doesn’t require the presiding officer, the mayor, to cast a vote.

Governing bodies usually are made up of odd-numbered officials, whether it’s five, seven or nine. The Amarillo City Council comprises five members, including the mayor. The Collin County Commissioners Court comprises an odd number of county commissioners. Why is the odd number the norm? Simple: it prevents tie votes when all members are present.

I used to cover a county commission in Oregon that was made up of just three commissioners. The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners functioned pretty well — most of the time — with just the bare minimum of commissioners needed to enact county policy.

In Princeton, where the mayor doesn’t vote on matters, policy decisions are made by an odd number of council members. The mayor is the ringmaster, who isn’t required to enter his vote into the public record.

I’m going to talk to city officials in the morning about an issue the council considered this evening. I need to find out more about this curious policy.

I’ll let you know what I learn.