After nearly two years of work, Ellis County has approved several changes to its planning and zoning and subdivision regulations. The changes have been drafted by the county’s planning commission and were approved Monday by the county commission.

Highlights of the changes include adding the ability for privately maintained streets to be included in approved development plats, as long as the roads are built to county standards. This option did not previously exist, meaning the county was responsible for any new roads.

“I would also like to see that (Public Works administrator) Bill Ring and his crew no longer have to maintain those roads once the subdivisions are built. The county inspects the roads, and then we don’t have to maintain them,” Commission Chairman Dean Haselhorst said. “I think our equipment is getting too large and I would hate to see us have to go buy another grader or two.”

Proposed subdivisions now can include either public or private roads. Roads already maintained by the county will remain unchanged.

The commission approved the changes unanimously and also requested the planning commission to reconsider the issue of allowing larger subdivision lots within the county. The county commission previously had suggested reducing the minimum number of lots within a subdivision from eight to six.

When discussing the issue in 2016 as part of the proposed changes, the planning commission unanimously voted in favor of keeping the requirement the same, said Karen Purvis, the county’s zoning administrator.

“We’d asked that they kind of look back at it again,” Commissioner Barbara Wasinger said. “So I’m not sure that’s the answer I was looking for.”

County regulations call for subdivisions to be less than 40 acres, and there is a requirement for each lot to be at least 2 acres for installation of private septic systems. The commission 3-0 approved another resolution sending that particular issue back to the planning commission for further discussion.

A request for proposals also will come before the county commission at a later date, as the planning commission has asked the county to consider hiring a consultant to review and update the county’s comprehensive plan. That project was not budgeted for this year, but commissioners previously indicated support for gathering cost estimates.

Another change in the regulations is requirement of a permit from the county environmental office when a new fence or wall is constructed, or an existing fence is being extended. A survey might be required to assure proper location, and a site plan will be required to show proximity to any on-site septic tanks.

New restrictions also were added regarding the maximum height of new fences and retaining walls and distance from public right-of-way. Existing fence structures will be grandfathered in.

The protest period for the zoning and subdivision changes — approved by the planning commission March 28 — ended April 11. There were no protests.

“We consider this a very simple set of amendments to clarify language and definitions, address fences, conflicts, adjust the fine structures and to update the table of contents,” said David McDaniel, a member of the joint planning commission and mayor of Ellis.

A full list of changes — which will take effect after publication — can be found at https://ellisco.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_04162018-157.