County rescinds vote after designating parts of downtown Pharr a colonia

After a unanimous vote to explore the possibility of designating parts of Pharr’s downtown as a colonia, the Hidalgo County Commissioners voted to rescind the action amid confusion.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Eddie Cantu said during Tuesday’s commissioners court that his precinct, which includes Pharr, is “supporting Proyecto Azteca and it came from the City of Pharr, that’s why we are supporting. It’s to allow this funding from the USDA, which will help dilapidated homes.”

Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez said in a telephone interview soon after the unanimous vote that he was unaware of this. Hernandez said he was going to inquire about what was going on. The commissioners later rescinded their vote during the meeting.

County Judge Ramon Garcia, Cantu and Hernandez will meet to discuss this, Precinct 4 Commissioner Joseph Palacios said Tuesday afternoon. The court decided to rescind the action to ensure the county and city are on the same page, Palacios said.

Proyecto Azteca requested that the Pharr Original Townsite, which is in downtown Pharr near city hall, be declared a colonia for U.S. Department of Agriculture purposes. Members of the audience were angry.

“Did the city of Pharr send a letter out to each one of the property owners that own property in the area that you are talking about turning into a colonia?” said Fern McClaugherty of the Objective Watchers of the Law.

Proyecto Azteca described the criteria of a colonia to include a “lack of potable water supply, lack of adequate sewage systems, and lack of decent, safe and sanitary house, inadequate roads and drainage.”

“You said one thing was to have sewage,” McClaugherty said. “Does that mean septic tanks with homes could be turned into a colonia? I’ve got a septic tank. If that’s a criteria then I think a lot of homes could be affected. What are you doing to the value of these properties?”

After the back and forth between McClaugherty, Garcia and others, the motion was made by Cantu to explore this request by Proyecto Azteca. Palacios seconded the motion and the court voted unanimously, before later in the meeting rescinding the vote.