Brazoria County officials closed an $880,000 deal Dec. 26 to purchase 183 acres adjacent to the Texas Gulf Coast Regional Airport to provide for its expansion, utility extension and regional economic development.
Commissioners voted 5-0 Nov. 14 to purchase the land from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The land is east of the airport and west of Texas 288.
“We purchased the land in part to provide for expansion at the airport,” said Commissioner Stacy Adams. He said the Texas Legislature in 2011 adopted a bill giving 300 acres to the county, of which the 183 acres is a portion. He said Gov. Rick Perry vetoed the bill, however, because the county was not paying for the land.
Adams surmised Perry took the action to avoid setting a precedent. “He didn’t sign the 2011 bill because if we got the land for free, everyone next to state property would want a piece,” he said.
Adams said the county bought the land also to help facilitate the extension of Lake Jackson water and sewer service to the airport and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Wayne Scott Unit prison.
“The airport and the TDCJ both need to get off of water well and septic systems because of their growth. By the county owning the land, it will enable Lake Jackson to provide water and sewer service,” he said.
Ongoing commercial development is another factor. County officials envision an industrial park in the vicinity of the airport and the addition of more service industry which will support the airport.
It was important that the county also see a return on its investment, Adams said. Thus the motion adopted by commissioners authorizing the purchase also stipulates, “Any portion of land utilized by the airport, the airport will pay back the general fund of the county until fully paid back to the general fund.”
The provision garnered Adam’s vote and also that of County Judge Joe King.
If a business entity comes along and wants to purchase 20 acres out of the parcel to construct a facility, for instance, the funds from the sale of that land would go into the county’s general fund.
“The synergy is really beginning to build in that area,” said Lake Jackson city manager Bill Yenne.
Yenne said plans by developers, such as those of Maury Rubin, who represents a partnership of developers, and whose 987-acre master-planned Alden subdivision would include 50 percent commercial and 50 percent residential (about 1,000 homes), are examples of the growth planned for the area. Alden would be located south of the airport.
“The city is also promoting a business park for that area. All together, there is around $15 billion of development taking place all around Brazoria County. Southern Brazoria County is really taking off and looks like it will keep a steady pace for the next 5-10 years,” Yenne said.
“Having water and sewer service is going to open this whole area up to development. This property (183 acres) serves as a connection point between the city and the development going on around Lake Jackson,” said Jeff Bilyeu, aviation director for the airport.
The airport houses around 100 aircraft and Bilyeu said all hangars are full. The land could provide space for adding hangars, he said.