Joint Airport Zoning Board adopts zoning regulation

The Joint Airport Zoning Board unanimously approved the adoption of its zoning regulations Wednesday after nearly a year of work on the draft. The rules will regulate development in the areas surrounding the North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field.

Prior to approving the regulation, setting the groundwork for it to be passed into law, the board completed final actions in preparation and concluded discussion on a few lingering questions that prevented the regulation from being voted upon in the previous meeting.

The meeting started with Chairman Phil Roether entertaining a motion to seek insurance from the County in regard to its actions as a zoning board.

“I am proposing that we have a motion to request from the County Commissioners insurance to indemnify all board members of the board from legal fees and ramifications,” said Roether.

Roether said the legal protection was a common practice for local boards and other regulatory committees. The insurance that is being sought will be similar to that used by members of the Grayson County Regional Mobility Authority, added Airport Director Mike Shahan.

Roether said he would be approach the Grayson County Commissioners Court during its next meeting.

The topic of conversation then changed to an ongoing question regarding who would be liable in the event of litigation pertaining to area zoning. Roether said it would be based on where the litigation is brought up, but the unincorporated area falls under the purview of the county.

Roether asked Board member Jason Sofey, who represents Sherman, if the City Council and city attorney had discussed the issue. Sofey said it had and they have were no questions at this time.

“I guess it goes back to that we wanted a direct answer to the question, and we wanted to convey that information to staff and Council,” said Sofey. “Now that they are aware of it, they are comfortable.”

Roether added that there has not been a lawsuit in the State of Texas regarding airport zoning.

“The probability of being successful in a lawsuit would be very, very remote,” he said.

After the discussion, County Representative Randy Hensarling motioned to approve the document, with a second by Todd Thompson, representing Pottsboro. The motion passed with a 7-0, with two members absent.

Both Lee Olmstead, who represents Grayson County, and Ryan Johnson, who represents Sherman, were out of town at the time of the meeting. Roether said he had received a document from Olmstead voicing his support for the rules.

The next step for the regulation will be attorney certification, to be performed by William B. Munson. After certification, the regulation will be filed with the county clerk, at which point it will become law. Munson said the process should take less than a week.

While this concludes the Board’s work in drafting the regulation, Roether said the Board will not dissolve. The Board will meet in the future if there is need for an amendment to the regulation, he said.

“It may be that we are required to hold a meeting once a year,” said Roether.

Despite approval, the zoning ordinance is not without its opponents. Maria Morgan, who owns property north of the airport and has been a vocal opponent of the regulations, said they are being made without proper representation for landowners.

“This is a group of private citizens that are taking property rights without compensation or representation,” Morgan said via email Wednesday.

Roether said that despite some opposition from area landowners, he feels the regulation will ultimately benefit Grayson County.

“It feels great to get to this point,” said Roether. “The benefits of this will be felt in the future as the airport continues to grow and fuels the economy.”


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