Following two recommendations from the city of Weatherford planning and zoning commission, city council members Tuesday voted down a zoning change and plat that was proposed to be the site of an Oncor electric substation.
The item came before council last month, but Oncor pulled its application prior to that meeting to try and reach out to adjacent property owners who had voiced concerns, Oncor Right-of-Way Siting Specialist Seth Sampson said. The new application also included tree plantings along Bankhead and the eastern and western sides where property owners had pointed to visibility concerns.
Property owner Lumar Development had originally requested a zoning change for the land, located at 3009 E. Bankhead Drive, from the existing Planned Development that was originally for a multi-family use to C1 General Commercial for the electrical substation, known as Bell Mountain.
Sampson said the station's placement was critical the company's ability to provide electric service in the area.
"This substation is geographically distinct from Oncor's existing substations and is imperative to meet the customer load and growth," he said. "Put simply, Oncor's ability to provide reliable electric service will materially be affected if the city does not allow [us] to construct this needed substation.
"Our desire was to have this substation in service by December of this year for the winter peak."
The proposed location of the station falls in the middle of the two existing stations, one to the northeast and one to the south. Those stations are "loaded to the max" and the new substation would ease the strain on those two locations, Sampson told council. He added that the Bankhead property works best because of a transmission line running across the property.
To a question by City Manager James Hotopp on plans to expand the two existing substations, Sampson said there is no room.
"We would have to be able to find willing landowners to sell to us in those locations," he said, "and in our process, it's been difficult to find that."
Mayor Pro-Tem Heidi Wilder voiced concerns about the impact it would have on Weatherford electric services, and potentially the diminished value of "putting someone else's substation in our city that really doesn't benefit our citizens.
"We're Weatherford electric and we're proud of it. The majority of our citizens have Weatherford electric and we provide the finest service in the state of Texas, guaranteed."
Sampson said Oncor already has thousands of customers within city limits and all over the region.
"At the last meter reading we took, there were approximately 2,240 meters in the city limits, that's not including your [extraterritorial jurisdiction]," he said. "Now that can be commercial properties, multiple residents living at a single meter location..."
Weatherford resident Mac Smith, who co-owns property one lot over from the proposed substation, said he feels he's well-acquainted with the types of service the city provides, and has repeatedly spoken out against the proposal.
Councilmember Matt Ticzkus cited P&Z's two recommendations to deny the zoning change.
"I take great weight into how they vote and what they have to say about it," he said, to which Wilder also agreed.
The motion was denied, 4-0.