orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

October 17, 2013

Residents speak out against proposed Housing Project

Dawn Burleigh
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — The flags marking the beginning of the proposed Housing Project posted located at 4030 Sikes Road in Orange are out and the neighbors are voicing their opinion against it.

The Board of Commissioners Orange Public Facility Corporation held three public hearings on Tuesday. The first started at 4: 34 p.m.  concerning the Velma Jeter Project while the next one started at 4:45 p.m. and lasted over an hour.

Commissioner Patricia Coppage told the citizens to look up NIMBY which stands for Not In My Back Yard, which is illegal.

“We wanted to rebuild Arthur Robinson II at it’s current location,” Coppage said. “We cannot build in low income areas.”

Coppage and Commissioner Asst. Chairman Michael Combs both said that the locations selected for the projects were not their first choice.

Darrell Richard, citizen, asked several times in different ways why build and why the locations selected.

“Why? Where?” Combs asked. “The funding available were hurricane funds that required how and where to build,”  

Margaret Adams, citizen, questioned the commissioners concerning if a study was conducted to show how the project would affect Hillcrest residents and if the data was available to the residents.

Combs said there was a study because the builder said so but he had not seen it himself.

When asked how residents could see the study to validate it, Combs suggested looking at areas in Beaumont and Port Arthur.

Adams said she is not against relocation of the projects but was concerned with the impact of the property values.

“What was done to ensure our livelihood and how they are impacted,” Adams asked. “Was the impacts on our livelihoods taken into consideration?”

The commissioners said the locations were determined by the Fair Housing Advocates which, according to the commissioners, sued the federal government and won.

The board said the projects will not increase the number of units in the city, just replace existing ones which were now deemed substandard due to damage from hurricanes.

The locations for the projects were purchased by the board fifteen to twenty years ago, according to Coppage.

“We paid a note on them just like anyone else,” Coppage said.

At a meeting in July Executive Director LaNita Brown said the proposed developments are with the CBDG funds.

Commissioner Josie M. Lindsey was absent.

A public meeting concerning the site is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 29 at The Palms’ Ballroom located at 4121 Interstate 10 East in Orange.

The commissioner were also given an amended petition concerning the Texas Whistle Act lawsuit of Tanya Wilson vs. The Housing Authority of the City of Orange Texas.

The board held a grievance hearing regarding the termination of Project Manager and Director of Housing Aaron Ledet. Ledet was terminated earlier this year.

“Ledet wants his job back,” Cade Bersen, Ledet’s attorney, said. “Everything was fine until he spoke with the federal government.”

Coppage said she felt comfortable with the decisions already made on the matter.

Ledet’s termination was upheld by the board.