McKinney City Council members approved a request for a specific use permit to build an electrical switch station in north McKinney at an Aug. 15 meeting.

The project, first considered in April, sparked concerns by nearby residents due to the project’s proximity to residential homes and an elementary school.

The gist

An electrical switch station is being developed by Oncor Electric Delivery in north McKinney to the east of US 75 near Shawnee Drive.

The facility will serve as a switch station that directs electricity to serve McKinney as well as neighboring communities including New Hope, according to a presentation at an April 25 McKinney Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

No information on the proposed timeline for the construction of the switching station was presented at the meeting.

The details

The project includes a switch station totaling just over 3 acres surrounded by an 8-foot-tall masonry screening wall, according to city documents.

The tallest equipment on the site will reach 65 feet and the facility will be about 420 feet to the north of adjacent Press Elementary School, according to site plans. The project site was selected by the Public Utilities Commission of Texas in July 2021.

McKinney Planning and Zoning Commission members unanimously recommended denial of the special use permit at a May 23 meeting. The item was tabled at two following McKinney City Council meetings before action was taken on the item at the Aug. 15 meeting.

What they’re saying

Residents of the nearby Pecan Ridge Estates neighborhood first expressed opposition to the proposed station at an April 25 meeting of the McKinney Planning and Zoning Commission, and continued to express concerns about the project at public hearings on the item.

Concerns expressed by residents included the proximity of the project to nearby Press Elementary School and residential homes. Residents also noted concerns about the private road for the switch station being accessed from the east, cutting across a green belt area located behind the neighborhood.

“I cannot get behind this just because I do feel like ultimately it is the lesser of two evils,” Pecan Ridge Estates resident Sam Striker said at the Aug. 15 meeting. “I don’t think there is anything I’m just super joyous about getting behind here; it is ultimately a detriment to our community.”

Some residents proposed alternate sites for the project, but project representatives noted the site was selected as part of an order by a state agency.

“The Public Utilities Commission of Texas two years ago determined that this location was the area that was needed to effectively improve the grid or to support the grid and the growing area,” said Rob Myers, an engineer with Kimley Horn who is working on the project with Oncor Electric Delivery, of the location of the project.

Adjustments were made to the project following the concerns expressed by residents before the site plan was presented to City Council members. When the item was considered again at the Aug. 15 meeting, changes to the site plan included relocating the access road to enter on the west side of the property and moving the switch station about 100 feet further from the elementary school, according to city documents.

“I’ve yet to see anything in my roughly 19, 20 months on [City] Council that approaches this with respect to the grip that you guys showed in getting the results we’ve got here today,” Council Member Patrick Cloutier said of the efforts of nearby residents to work with the project developer. “This took a lot of people to get the best possible outcome we could get, and I feel very comfortable that’s where we are.”

The specific use permit was unanimously approved by City Council members at the Aug. 15 meeting.