The Georgetown City Council approved a right-of-way acquisition pertaining to four residential land parcels as a result of Phase 1 of the D.B. Wood Road project at a meeting Sept. 13.

According to Georgetown's Assistant City Attorney Jim Kachelmeyer, design and planning work for the expansion of D.B. Wood Road from SH 29 to Williams Drive is underway. The first phase goes from SH 29 to Oak Ridge Road.

Kachelmeyer explained city engineers and contracted design firm Kimley Horn have recognized further standards for design and will potentially require more land than expected.

“In the course of design, the city’s engineers and [​​the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality] determined that an existing crossing of a creek has constituted a dam for that area, and because the standards for a dam is a bit more extensive, it has required the city issue right-of-way acquisitions,” Kachelmeyer said.

Mayor Josh Shroeder clarified that an individual dam is not being built, but rather the road itself will act as a dam.

According to city documents, the combined acreage affected is 9.44 acres, in which all or portions of it might be used.

Kachelmeyer said three properties are being affected to construct roadway and drainage improvements. The fourth property owner in the neighboring subdivision would be impacted by possible downstream improvements and construction access requirements.

Kachelmeyer said the city’s right-of-way consultant is communicating with the property owners to determine the extent of right-of-way acquisition that will be required.

Kachelmeyer said if the respective property owners are unwilling to donate the necessary right-of-way and the parties are unable to reach an agreement on any potential acquisition, the city will be required to exercise its right of eminent domain to acquire the right-of-way needed.

“The city never likes to do condemnation. We use it as a last resort, but we go through this process to get eminent domain as necessary,” Kachelmeyer said.

Public comment during Kachelmeyer’s presentation showcased confusion from residents pertaining to who wants the dam.

“I have corresponded with TCEQ, and they said that they are not requiring the dam, but the city is,” Heather Whit said. “I ask that before you take people’s land, please do a complete survey to see if this really is necessary.”

Ron Joseph echoed Whit's remarks saying that he thought TCEQ never issued a requirement for a dam, but rather the city.

“I understand that you need to get there and get your data, but I just don't want you guys going on my property with heavy machinery and ripping it up if it doesn't have to be,” Joseph said.

Kachelmeyer responded stating that the TCEQ is not requiring the city to build a dam, but as work is being done, engineers have recognized that the standards for a dam have become applicable.

“What we are hoping to do with this action is purely an administrative step,” Kachelmeyer said. “In every instance we want to work with the property owners and address their concerns and what we need to get, such as the right of entry agreement to determine the right amount of property that is needed.”

In a roll call vote, all council members except Ben Stewart approved the motion.

“Given where we are in the design process, this step allows for us to move through this as expeditiously as possible and, as Jim indicated, this is setting the motion in our ability to take this step with our hope that it won't have to be taken,” City Manager David Morgan said.

Kachelmeyer said the eminent domain process would not have to happen until after several other processes take place.