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DALLAS COUNTY (KRLD-AM) – People who live in Sand Branch say they will not be moved from the community their families have lived in for more than 100 years.
And the environmental attorney who has been helping the southern Dallas County residents establish their own water district says they are not looking for any money from the county.
Sand Branch is in what is now the flood plain, about 14 miles south of downtown Dallas, near Seagoville.
Last year’s floods brought the historic community back into the spotlight.
The roughly 80 people living in Sand Branch do not have running water and there is no sewage system, despite the fact that the city of Dallas’ Southside Water Treatment Plant is a stone’s throw away and a tie into fresh water is just a couple miles away on Beltline Road.
Dallas Environmental Attorney Mark McPherson has been assisting the residents in forming a Development and Water Supply Corporation Board, which has already been awarded a USDA grant to pay for an engineering study of a potential water and sewage system.
Plans for making improvements to the community’s infrastructure and to the individual homes has the backing of Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
Jenkins has been meeting with representatives from federal and state agencies on how the people of Sand Branch can effectively and legally make improvements and raise the level of livability, health and safety.
However, the area’s County Commissioner, John Wylie Price, says he does not see any alternative to buying the residents out, essentially forcing a move-out.
Commissioners Mike Cantrell and Elba Garcia agree. Commissioner Theresa Daniel is on the fence.
A similar county-funded buy-out was conducted almost 20 years ago. McPherson says that while around $5,000 per resident was allocated, the Sand Branch homeowners who took the buy-out only received around $400 each.
“They had $350 to do everything that was required to move,” says McPherson. “Before they even paid the landowner, the county deducted the amount that was going to be required to demolish the structure.”
McPherson says that while he and the residents are “extremely grateful” for Judge Jenkins’ facilitating and coordinating efforts – “He’s been the leader in getting all the different government agencies together,” – he is confused by the commissioners’ effort to become involved in forcing residents out.
“We have figured out how we can do this in a lawful way,” says McPherson. “And, certainly there’s no money that needs to be spent by Dallas County. So, if you don’t have the gold, you don’t need to be trying to make the rules.”
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