By MARY RAINWATER
Anderson County Commissioners approved an ordinance allowing for the construction of two heliports in the northern portion of the county, following a public hearing on the matter during their meeting on Monday.
The hearing was required for the adoption of airport zoning regulations pertaining to airport hazard areas within unincorporated areas of the county.
Brad Heppner of Bradley Oaks Ranch in Bradford presented some background on the projects, which resulted from the loss of a family member near the ranch.
“Our 27-year-old nephew passed away there about 4 years ago in a car crash and we were unable to get a helicopter to land there due to poor access,” Heppner said. “So about 3 ½ years ago, we began the process of constructing two heliports on the ranch — one located near Texas 19 and the other at the opposite end of the ranch.”
Both heliports would be gated, Heppner said, but the one located near Texas 19 — identified as the Bradford VFD Heliport, would not be locked and would be available for public emergency access. The second one would have private access.
Both the heliports will be accessed by asphalt roads, which are included in the project plans.
“We do meet FAA clearance,” Heppner said. “Both projects are on file with the FAA, and once the ordinance is approved, construction can began in about 45 days.
“We think this will reduce emergency response times in getting to Tyler or Dallas hospitals.”
According to Jim Harris, an attorney for Bradley Oaks Ranch, all area residents were notified about the project, with letters of approval received from all but three landowners, who were unreachable.
Members of the Airport Zoning Commission— including Elton Bomer and Bradford VFD Chief Jerry Kelly and others — also attended Monday's hearing and recommended approval of the ordinance.
Also on Monday, the court:
• APPROVED reports from county officials.
• APPROVED budget amendments.
• APPROVED the expansion of a water line along Anderson County Road 421 (in Precinct 4) by the City of Palestine for expansions at the Palestine Municipal Airport.
• APPROVED renewal of a Wellness Participation Program with the Palestine YMCA and Anderson County.
• APPROVED the appointment of Kelly Hughes as a Reserve Constable for Precinct 4.
• TABLED discussion and potential action regarding the creation of a County Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zone (CETRZ), to promote one or more infrastructure projects to be located within the county to be funded by the CETRZ including the potential boundaries and requirements of a CETRZ, as authorized by Section 222.1071 of the Texas Transportation Code.
• TABLED discussion and potential action regarding the SB 1747 Prioritized Project List for the County Transportation Infrastructure Fund Grant Program.
• TABLED discussion and consideration of accepting the annual road report(s) for filing in the minutes of the Commissioners Court and with the Grand Jury for Anderson County Precincts 1-4.
• TABLED discussion and appointment of members to the CETRZ Advisory Board.
• TABLED a land use agreement for Precinct 4 Road and Bridge Department.