Corpus Christi Council to Join Neighbors in Supporting San Patricio County Industrial Master Plan
Feature Photo (above): The Southern Responder vessel, docked at Ingleside where the Kinney Bayou empties into Corpus Christi Bay, is a responder class oil spill ship. Communities in and near San Patricio County want to create an industrial master plan that will help them cope with the dramatic expansion of petrochemical and other industrial manufacturing moving into the county. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Corpus Christi (Nueces County) — The City Council will soon join, by enacting a resolution, a regional effort to craft an industrial master plan in response to the growing interest of national and multi-national companies in San Patricio County.
Throughout most of the 20th century, San Patricio County was a mostly rural community dotted with small inland towns dependent on an agricultural economy and sleepy seaside villages that drew modest incomes from fishing and tourism.
There has been dramatic change in the past few decades, though. The growth of port and petrochemical activities in Corpus Christi and Houston have increased demand for land that can be developed for port-dependent industries.
One after another, new industrial plants have been announced, constructed and begun–or are in the process of beginning operations in San Patricio County, which is considered a part of Corpus Christi’s greater metropolitan area.
Source: City of Portland
The town of Portland, north of Corpus Christi Bay, started the idea of a master plan. It was originally envisioned as limited to their extraterritorial jurisdiction out of concern that not enough was being done to avoid an ecological disaster, and to avoid the are turning into a Texas City or Baytown–two of the many satellite suburbs of Houston where residents are at the mercy of petrochemical plants that from time to time catch fire and pollute the air and water.
That initiative has gathered steam, at least over the past 30 months, and other communities have signed on or are considering it. Last fall, a county-wide plan was supported by the San Patricio County Commissioners Court, and on Dec. 11 Aransas Pass became the most recent community to pass a resolution.
The Aransas Pass resolution noted that going back to early 2017, after a decision to locate a major industrial facility very near Portland, that community began efforts to commission a study.
“The study is critical because of the growing belief that San Patricio County will continue to see unprecedented industrial development over the next 10 to 20 years,” according to a memorandum of findings given to the Aransas Pass City Council. “The local economic benefits of this industrial growth must be balanced against the equally significant challenges it creates for local communities, school districts, service providers, the environment, and our citizens at large.”
The resolutions approved to date, and the same goes for the one pending a January 14 vote of the Corpus Christi City Council, call for the Corpus Christi Metropolitan Planning Organization to serve as a neutral, third-party entity to first oversee the process of selecting the planning firm that will ultimately develop the master plan, and then serve as administrator insuring that the legal and operational framework for the study is carried out effectively.
Source: City of Portland
The study is intended to identify potential industrial sites. It will also identify areas that are not suitable for industry, but more appropriate for residential, commercial, educational and retail development.
The study will also help identify future infrastructure needs, including highways and thoroughfares, drainage, electrical power grids, railroads, water and sewer, pipelines and other utilities.
Corpus Christi’s resolution begins with a global snapshot of what is forcing the region into this direction:
“Growth in the world petrochemical industry has shifted from the Middle East to the Texas Gulf Coast as production in North America continues to outpase other world markets. San Patricio County lies at the nexus of that growth in the Coastal Bend, with unprecedented industrial developments and investments exceeding $30 billion, to date.
“All indications are that the industrial growth in San Patricio County will continue in the coming decades as more companies seek to build additional manufacturing and processing capacity.”
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.