Both urban and rural areas in Texas face growth challenges amid exploding population

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Posted at 12:42 PM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-09 16:04:03-04

CENTRAL TEXAS — The exploding population of Texas has put pressure on both big cities and rural areas to absorb those extra people by gobbling up rural areas.

”There were just little farms all up and down Hattrick bluff road and in the Little River community,” said Cotton Farmer James Kamas who fondly remembers the place he grew up, his little corner of Bell County sits at the threshold of a real estate boom.

”What are drivers of growth? Well, one thing is is, Do you have the services in place to support that,” said Chris Evilia, of the Waco metropolitan planning organization.

New subdivisions have already begun sprouting up among the farmland here.

”North of where we're standing right now. I used to farm that land. It was sold to a developer they're putting in, you know, infrastructure for houses and I'm talking about many houses, you know, dense, dense housing,” said Kamas. He's not alone.

From West Adams in Temple to Highway 195 in Killeen, they all paved the way for those cities to grow to the West and South but many times there's a limit to how far we'll go.

They don't want to live necessarily too far away from where they work or where their kids go to school,” said Evilia.

”It's a unique area in the sense that we're somewhat urban and we're somewhat rural,” said Bell County Judge David Blackburn.

In Bell County, like in other parts of Texas, the rural area gets a little less rural every day with the loss of farmland leading the way.

A 2018 study from the American farmland trust showed 31 million acres of farmland lost to development between 1992 and 2012.

That’s 175 acres per hour of agricultural land lost to development or 3 acres per minute.

And believe it or not, the growth here actually drives more growth.

”I think that mix is something that is attractive to both individuals and businesses,” said Blackburn.

Experts say it's a vicious circle that will continue until a higher cost of living, ”Yes I miss the community. Yes, as do all of the older residents” said Kamas.

And while he's seen other landowners cash into developers, Kamas says, not him.

”How long do you prefer to hang on forever. To allow till I'm gone. Maybe my heirs will, you know, flip that property, you know, quickly. It's not going to happen on my watch,” he said.

As Kamas fights the good fight, like it or not, he'll have plenty of new neighbors as he does it.