When the City of Waco voted to expand FM 939, or TK Parkway, in Axtell, city documents said: “The City of Waco intends to construct safety enhancements along FM 939 in a partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) ongoing project FM 939 SH 31 Intersection Improvements.”
This was the same road that provides close access to the City of Waco’s proposed landfill site in Axtell.
According to city documents, the “enhancements” would widen the road just past the high fence of Southern Cross Whitetale Ranch. This means the fence would need to be taken down. Owner Brian Ford, along with his wife and several community members, wrote to the City Council to have their voice heard on Tuesday evening.
“Southern Cross ranch owners are concerned about the proposed right of way expansion, the need to move our exterior fence, move a large portion of fence associated with our doe breeding facility, the loss of large trees that provide shade to the deer and the disruption caused by heavy equipment,” the statement from Ford said.
Community members also expressed concerns about the increased traffic on the road, specifically 18-wheelers, as they said the road was also used by school buses. The Waco City Council heard the comments, but did not discuss them, and unanimously voted for the expansion to go forward. Ford told 6 News Wednesday it was disappointing to see.
“I was hoping that one or more than one of the city council members would have asked questions but there was not a single question asked by any council member. It was rubber-stamped,” Ford said. “I would have liked for them to address questions to the city staff.”
While replacing a fence designed to keep deer in is not cheap, Ford said there will be a much bigger problem if the city is using this section of road in front of his business to bring 18-wheelers to the new landfill site.
Ford said in order for deer to bread and the fawns to survive, deer need to be in a natural environment. He said the increase in noise caused by constant use of heavy vehicles would be detrimental to his business. Ford could, of course, move his breeding facility to the other side of his property, but that would hurt the business as well.
“I would assume it would be a six-figure number to move all that, and then hopefully in the process of moving that we don’t injure or kill any deer, which is another financial equation I can’t calculate,” Ford said.
Ford said the city offered to buy his property previously, but they were only offering the price of the land, and the sum did not account for the business he and his partners had built on top of that. Ford said he had been in business for almost 15 years.
City documents from the August 18 city council meeting state that the owners of the property would be compensated the sum of $56,976.00. Ford said he did not know how the city came up with the figure and the city had not formally made him an offer. Ford estimated he would need at least half that amount just to replace the fence.
He said an expansion to TK Parkway for the purpose of increasing traffic volume to the landfill would be a problem for more than just his business.
“It’s going to be a difficult situation for the community, for our neighbors, for our friends. There are school buses that run up and down this every day taking the kids to school,” Ford said. “We’re not saying we are the only ones affected. We just happen to be right across the street.”