Lumberton development talks spark long-lost regulation of Beaumont suburbs

Lumberton has announced its agreement with Brampton Essential LP to develop a 3,200-acre parcel of land along FM 421, which will house both commercial and residential properties, including the proposed Longleaf Subdivision. Photo made Wednesday, June 16, 2021 Kim Brent/The Enterprise

A massive proposed subdivision planned for parts of southern Hardin County has garnered a lot of interest and concern from some residents, but — now — it’s also apparently dredged up a missing piece of oversight in that area.

The Beaumont City Council and Hardin County Commissioner’s Court sealed that forgotten agreement on Tuesday at the council’s meeting, allowing Hardin County to continue reviewing developments on the western edge of Lumberton.

The process started when developers of the Longleaf Master Plan Community started bringing plat proposals for their first phase of development to the city of Lumberton and Hardin County.

But most of the developer’s land just north of Pine Island Bayou is technically in Beaumont’s extraterritorial jurisdiction — the official zone around a city that still allows local governments to organize and regulate development around it.

The state legislature passed a law in 2001 that required local governments to craft agreements with other municipalities that intersect with their ETJ zones, so there is a guarantee that someone is reviewing an area’s development and making sure it meets a city’s standards in case it is ever annexed.

Beaumont quickly signed an agreement with Jefferson County soon after, but it didn’t have one with Hardin County until now.

Hardin County Judge Wayne McDaniel said that Lumberton City Attorney Curtis Soileau actually brought it to the county’s attention, kicking off an almost month-long process to get an agreement in place.

“There are actually already several developments in that area already,” McDaniel said. “There isn’t really a need to grandfather them into the new agreement, though. Beaumont can still exercise their right to regulate them, but they’ve already been regulated according to Hardin County’s zoning.”

Under the agreement, the Hardin County Commissioner’s Court would be able to review subdivisions in the intersecting zone using one unified code of regulations for the area. McDaniel said those codes would be Hardin County’s existing zoning policies.

Hardin County would be in charge of receiving plats and being the sole authority giving permission to developers, in addition to collecting the plat fees required for each subdivision.

City Manager Kyle Hayes said the agreement didn’t limit the city’s ability to annex property in its ETJ, but city staff pointed out in council documents that future annexation into bordering Hardin County wouldn’t be likely.

Longleaf was first announced in the summer of 2019 by Arlington-based development company Brampton-Essential. The company had already purchased more than 3,200 acres of mostly-raw forest land on the north and south side of Farm Road 421 with the intent to build homes on it.

Hardin County residents got their first official look at the proposed community in June, during a public forum hosted by the Hardin County Commissioner’s Court.

The company’s first phase would focus on building out 226 lots across 85 acres and two sub-phases, according to project manager Patrick Hoffman, Hoffman said it could take about three years to finish that project, which is planned adjacent to the city park on the edge of Lumberton.

Of the 3,200 acres of Brampton’s land, the company only considers about 2,600 acres as being developable. Additionally, it would take some 50 years for all of the potential plots to be developed, Hoffman said.

Brampton intends to keep parts of the land as active tree farms, leaving them as greenspace for the future communities there.

The company brought one plat proposal to the county at the end of July, but it was rejected, due in part to the exclusion of a drainage plan along with the plans for development.

“We decided to kick it back, and they are looking at it again before they resubmit it,” McDaniel said.

Written by Jacob Dick

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