frisco power lines

After months of preparation, the State Office of Administrative Hearings today began proceedings in Austin regarding a proposed 138,000-volt transmission line across Frisco. This power line has been at the center of a hotly contested debate between Frisco homeowner associations and Realtors on one side and Brazos Electric, CoServ Electric, and the Public Utility Commission (PUC) on the other.

“All the witnesses are done [as of this evening], with briefs due Aug. 28 and reply briefs due Sept. 11,” said Adam Majorie, Government Affairs Director for the Collin County Association of Realtors (CCAR). He spoke to CandysDirt this evening after finishing the day in the hearings. “Once all the briefs are done, the two administrative law judges will go about the task of rendering their decision.”

Of the 715 intervenors testifying (most through written testimony), 683 were part of the Bury the Lines Campaign. The remainder of the intervenors were people from the city of Frisco, Brazos Electric, homeowners not represented by the Bury the Lines campaign, and the PUC staff.

The West Frisco Homeowners Coalition (WFHOC) and CCAR joined forces in September 2014, creating a grassroots campaign, burythelines.org, to oppose the above-ground high-voltage transmission line built by Brazos Electric on behalf of CoServ Electric. They say the line, which will be built through heavily populated neighborhoods along Main Street or Stonebrook Parkway to the Dallas North Tollway, will adversely affect property values and infringe on homeowner property rights. The campaign wants power lines buried, instead.

From the beginning, this has been a highly unusual situation, with Collin County Realtors fighting side-by-side with homeowners.

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Power lines

As expected, on Jan. 15 Brazos Electric Power Cooperative filed a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) to build to build a 138,000-volt transmission line across west Frisco. In response, several Frisco homeowners have retained legal counsel to represent their interests to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas.

Their attorney, Francis B. Majorie of The Majorie Firm Ltd., will be compensated solely from fees arranged for by the Collin County Association of Realtors (CCAR) from the Texas Association of Realtors Issues Mobilization Political Action Committee. Majorie does not represent the CCAR or the West Frisco Homeowners Coalition (WFHOC); he only represents the individuals who have retained him.

“I was approached by several interested homeowners who have retained me and have asked me to be available to answer questions and enable the homeowners to present a united front in that they all have a common interest in asking that the power lines be buried,” Majorie said.

In order to answer questions, there is a town hall meeting Wednesday, Jan. 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria of Pioneer Heritage Middle School, 1649 High Shoals Dr., Frisco.

As we reported in November, the WFHOC and CCAR joined forces in September 2014, creating a grassroots campaign, burythelines.org, to oppose the above-ground high-voltage transmission line. Through that website, they have gathered names of potential “intervenors” who could be a part of the legal proceedings surrounding the CCN.

“An intervenor is someone who is directly affected by the imposition of the power line, who chooses to appear and be a party in the proceedings,” Majorie said. “Because they are a party, they have a right to appear at all the hearings, the right to offer evidence, they have to be available to provide discovery to others. It’s the functional equivalent of being a party in a lawsuit.”

A 45-day period where people can voice their concerns to the PUC began when Brazos filed on Jan. 15. The PUC then has up to a year to make its decision regarding transmission line route and if the line will be above ground or below ground. Jump to read more!

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Photo courtesy tenchiro via Creative Commons

Photo courtesy tenchiro via Creative Commons

All eyes are on Collin County as Brazos Electric Power Cooperative plans to apply for permission next week with the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas to build a 138,000-volt transmission line across Frisco.

A rare partnership between Frisco homeowner associations and realtors to fight the proposed above-ground power lines has caught the attention of regulators in the state capitol.

“Realtors don’t get involved in regulatory issues very much—Austin is paying very close attention, and the regulatory community as a whole is definitely interested in this issue,” said Adam Majorie, Government Affairs Director for the Collin County Association of Realtors (CCAR). “It’s rare to have such a pronounced public outcry, and the PUC acknowledged this in our meeting yesterday.”

As we reported in November, the West Frisco Homeowners Coalition (WFHOC) and CCAR joined forces in September 2014, creating a grassroots campaign, burythelines.org, to oppose the above-ground high-voltage transmission line built by Brazos on behalf of CoServ Electric. They say the line, which will run through heavily populated neighborhoods between the Dallas North Tollway and Farm-to-Market Road 423, would adversely affect property values and infringe on homeowner property rights. The campaign wants power lines buried, instead.

Their efforts have already had an impact: The power company’s application to the PUC next week is expected to include underground line options, in addition to the original proposal of an above-ground, 120-foot, double-circuit power line along either Stonebrook Parkway or Main Street in Frisco. The official name given by Brazos is the Stonebrook Transmission Line and Substation project. Jump to read more.

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At the recent Frisco town hall meeting, a Collin County Association of Realtors member said above-ground power lines like those proposed by Brazos/CoServ would negatively impact home values by 5 to 20 percent along the selected route. Map: CCAR

At the recent Frisco town hall meeting, a Collin County Association of Realtors member said above-ground power lines like those proposed by Brazos/CoServ would negatively impact home values by 5 to 20 percent along the selected route. Map: CCAR

The gloves are off in northern suburb Frisco as homeowners fight against a power line proposed by Brazos Electric Power Cooperative Inc. and CoServ Electric.

But in an unprecedented twist, Frisco Realtors are fighting side-by-side with homeowners for their home values and property rights.

At the heart of the issue is a suggested above-ground, 138,000-volt, double-circuit power line along either Stonebrook Parkway or Main Street in Frisco, built by Brazos on behalf of CoServ. The power line will start at an existing transmission line west of the Dallas North Tollway, and run between 2.7 and 4.1 miles, depending on the approved route, to a new substation to be built on King Road, west of Farm-to-Market Road 423. The new power line would serve growth in Frisco, Little Elm and The Colony, one of the fastest growing areas in the nation.

This prospect has the West Frisco Homeowners Coalition (WFHOC) and Collin County Association of Realtors (CCAR) working together oppose the 12-story power line, proposing instead that Brazos/CoServ build the line underground. They say the above-ground high-voltage transmission line, which will run through densely populated neighborhoods, will adversely affect the rights of homeowners.

“This is not simply about lowering property values—we see this as a huge home ownership, private property rights infringement,” said Adam Majorie, Government Affairs Director for the CCAR. “We think [the above-ground lines] will have a detrimental impact on homeowners themselves, because it affects on the whole neighborhood, and it impacts the homeowners’ nest eggs.”

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Capital Distributing 1.13

Houzz Founder Adi & Candy

Capital Dist 1.13 all sponsorsSo we all love HOUZZ, that way cool design site that gets like a trillion hits a day and fills us with photos, millions of photos of beautiful “HOUZZes” and rooms. Houzz was founded just a couple of years ago by Adi Tatarko and Alon Cohen, two Palo Alto residents who were remodeling a ranch home on the Peninsula there in northern Cali and were tired of cutting pages out of magazines for their inspiration file. Houzz soon became an online national photo database and idea generator for people in the process of building, remodeling and decorating. By December 2012, the Houzz i-pad app was downloaded over five-million times and the website featured one-million images. Houzz has a directory of 1.5 million home improvement professionals who use the site to connect with homeowners. So it was no wonder then that when Houzz decided to do a big party in Dallas to promote the site, they chose Capital Distributing (and Thermadore, ModernLuxuryDallas and your’s truly, CandysDirt.com) to partner and party with. I don’t know of a better design central for your home than Capital Distributing, ASID’s 2012 Appliance Designers’ Choice Award” Winner. Last Thursday evening we rocked it up around the latest and greatest in kitchen gadgets, learned how the internet is influencing home design, and  got an earful of a survey commissioned by Houzz. There were at least 450 builders, designers, architects and contractors in the house. Lisa Hausman, from Houzz, told me the Dallas event was one of the best attended across the USA.

Oh yes, the surveys. Let’s start here: do you go over budget when you decorate? Hell yes, right? I am not alone: 45% of people report going over their design budget. Here are a few more Houzz survey tidbits:

Depending on the home price range, people are increasingly do-it-yourselfers: even upscale homeowners are taking a hands-on approach to building, remodeling and decorating projects.

“The survey found that while 45 percent of homeowners at upper income levels ($150,000+) are choosing to hire an architect, interior designer, general contractor or another remodeling or decorating professional to complete a project in its entirety, an equal number of them are combining professional help and DIY efforts, a proportion only slightly smaller than the 49 percent taking this combination approach in lower income brackets.”

Kitchens and bathrooms are the most popular remodeling projects among Houzz users, with 48 percent of respondents planning a bathroom remodel, and 45 percent redoing a kitchen in the next two years. This is no surprise having come from the midwest: Midwesterners have the highest budgets for kitchen and bath remodels at $30,500 and $13,600 respectively, while the South is allocating the least at $23,800 and $11,600. I mean, in the south you can have an outdoor kitchen, no can do that in frigid Chicago.

Of course, I’d eliminate the kitchen entirely if I could.

We love our Houzzes! Other key findings from Houzz’s national survey:

-In the next two years, 72 percent of homeowners surveyed plan to decorate or redecorate, 40 percent plan to remodel or construct an addition, while 10 percent are planning to build a custom home.

-Custom homes are more popular in the South.

-57 percent of Houzz homeowners planning to complete a project in the next two years and will hire a general contractor, 35 percent a kitchen or bath professional and 32 percent will hire a carpet or flooring professional.  Thirty percent are planning to hire an architect, 26 percent an interior designer and 24 percent a landscape architect or designer.

-About half — 52 percent — say they will save money by completing some projects themselves.

-The largest projects in terms of average spend in the last five years were custom home builds ($577,000), complete home remodels ($193,000), pool additions or replacements ($34,000) and kitchen remodels ($25,000)

-6 in 10 Houzz homeowners hired a general contractor in the past five years, and half hired a carpet or flooring professional. Windows and kitchen and bath professionals were each hired by 28 percent of respondents, while architects and landscape professionals were each hired by 24 percent of respondents.

  • Candy Marc Kleinman Liza 1.13