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Lake Ralph Hall Zoning Commission discusses 2nd draft of Lake Ralph Hall Comprehensive Plan
By Allen Rich
Jun 28, 2022
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Honey Grove, Texas -- As Fannin County waits for Upper Trinity Regional Water District to develop and announce a Shoreline Management Plan for Lake Ralph Hall, the unique responsibility to devise a 5,000-foot zone around the lake that promotes economic development, preserves water quality and protects the best interests of the local residents falls on the shoulders of Lake Ralph Hall Zoning Commission.

Spurred on by construction of the two newest reservoirs in Texas, dramatic changes are coming to Fannin County. And, for the second time in recent years, representatives of Fannin County are working with a state water district to develop a shared vision that will protect water quality while also encouraging economic development that will be needed to help pay for looming infrastructure costs.

With Daniel Harrison of Freese and Nichols facilitating the discussion and approximately 70 residents in attendance, the Lake Ralph Hall Zoning Commission held a work session June 23, 2022, in Honey Grove to refine the 2nd draft of the Lake Ralph Hall Comprehensive Plan.

Mr. Harrison had this same role when Fannin County negotiated with North Texas Municipal Water District to formulate the Bois d'Arc Lake Comprehensive Plan. Harrison has the challenging job of incorporating Fannin County's vision for Lake Ralph Hall with Upper Trinity Regional Water District's vision for the lake and surrounding area in a timely fashion that doesn't slow the process.

The Lake Ralph Hall Zoning Commission is comprised of Jerry Magness (chair), Newt Cunningham, Jan Cooper, John Ed Shinpaugh and Jaylen Wallace. The zoning commission's decisions must be ratified by Fannin County Commissioners Court.

Lake Ralph Hall Zoning Commission seated (L-R): Jan Cooper, Newt Cunningham, Jerry Magness (Chair), John Ed Shinpaugh and Jaylen Wallace. Standing at the podium is Daniel Harrison.

As a county with less than 50,000 residents, Fannin County has no zoning authority, although the state legislature has allowed the county to implement a 5,000-foot buffer zone around the county's two new lakes in an effort to guide economic development.

In a public meeting held April 8, 2022, the Lake Ralph Hall Zoning Commission requested Upper Trinity Regional Water District's Shoreline Management Plan for Lake Ralph Hall, but, if this process follows the same timeline as Bois d'Arc Lake, the Shoreline Management Plan will come months after zoning has been finalized.

In the interim, the Lake Ralph Hall Zoning Commission has the responsibility of formulating a zoning process that protects the best interests of Fannin County. That doesn't mean eventual zoning regulations will be etched in stone; variances are currently being deliberated in the case of Bois d'Arc Lake and that same process will likely play out at Lake Ralph Hall.

The 1st draft of the Lake Ralph Hall Comprehensive Plan was reviewed in two public meetings in March and April. The next step in this project schedule will be a public open house in August 2022 to unveil the plan. If the project timeline remains accurate, Fannin County Commissioners Court is expected to deliberate on the adoption of the final version of the Lake Ralph Hall Comprehensive Plan in October 2022.

Newt Cunningham, a member of the Lake Ralph Hall Zoning Commission and the Republican candidate for Fannin County Judge, had several specific questions regarding the Lake Ralph Hall Comprehensive Plan.

At the meeting June 23 to discuss the 2nd draft of the Lake Ralph Hall Comprehensive Plan, residents had questions about specific zoning regulations. Harrison explained that agriculture exemptions won't be affected by the buffer zone around Lake Ralph Hall. In instances where City of Ladonia zoning and Lake Ralph Hall zoning overlap, the most restrictive zoning will apply.

Several residents asked if private boat docks would be allowed.

"The intent is to take a look at allowing boat docks," Harrison stated.

Daniel Harrison

The Lake Ralph Hall Comprehensive Plan is available online at https://freese.mysocialpinpoint.com/ralphhall/documents and a copy will be available for review at the Ladonia City Hall and the Honey Grove Library and Learning Center.

Audience members were encouraged to ask questions.