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2010-01-14

New county department to handle all permitting

By Carol L. Smith

Bandera County officials have created a new department for permits and inspections to consolidate the processes necessary to develop property within unincorporated areas of the county.

Septic permitting, flood plain analysis and development permitting will be contained within the courthouse annex building at 502 11th street. After a decision by commissioners last year, the county cancelled its contract with the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District. Previously, BCRAGD employees had been inspecting septic systems and issuing permits.

Engineer in training
A new county engineer in training, Brandi Hanson, was hired on Oct. 26, as the designated representative for all on-site sewage facilities (OSSF). This position includes permitting, inspecting and enforcing all Texas Health and Safety Code and Texas Water Code that apply to sewage treatment facilities.

“I’m in the process of creating and opening a new department on top of doing all the inspections and permitting,” said a harried Hanson. “This office will handle all septic systems - both public and private - that treat up to 5,000 gallons a day.
Anything over that goes directly to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).”

The Bandera County Permits and Inspections Department (BCPID) will file all new permits by address, not by permit number, to allow permitting within all the departments to be consolidated into a single file for each address. Each department head will be able to track all the necessary permits more efficiently.

This system will also allow the landowner or developers to have a file for each of their separate addresses, but to work within only one office. A property must be permitted prior to building a septic system and inspected after the system is built. When a property is sold, the septic must be re-inspected.

“My main goal and interest is the public’s health and safety,” stated Hanson.

Bandera County Fire Marshal John Stith is being trained to do septic inspections to step in if Hanson is unavailable.

Flood plain development
Bandera County Engineer Ray Rendon will continue to handle all the flood plain analysis and development permitting, including individual properties and subdivisions. To drill a water well, all properties must have a five-acre minimum. However, when combined with a municipal well, such as in a subdivision, lots can be a minimum of two acres.

“The development that I have seen in this county since I’ve been here is amazing,” stated Rendon. “ The permits dropped off last May, but here it is in January and they are starting back up again.”

Hanson is being cross-trained to handle Rendon’s duties as well to ensure that permits and inspections will not become backlogged. Carol Hart, clerk for the new department, will be responsible for coordinating, filing and administrating each of the offices with the BCPID.

According to Bandera County Judge, Richard Evans, county commissioners are contemplating adopting additional fire and building codes. These permits and inspections would be completed and kept on file in the BCPID office. As of press time, the adoption of any additional fire or building codes is not the commissioners agenda, however.