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A growing Milam County

First off, let’s just acknowledge that growth is not only coming, it’s here. It can be felt and seen throughout the county but nowhere more prevalent than the highway 79 corridor from the Williamson County line on. This past Saturday, most of Milam County heard, and felt that growth loud and clear with the implosion of the Sandow Power Station Unit No. 5.

The old ALCOA property, all 33,000 acres of it was purchased in the fall of 2021 by SLR Properties 1, LP, commonly referred to as Sandow Lakes Ranch or SLR. In a letter to the editor that appeared in the July 27, 2023, edition of the Rockdale Reporter, Sandow Lakes Ranch CEO Randy Kendrick talked about some of the plans for the 33,000 acres and the future of the entire development. 

Once the industrial site goes up there should be more and more development, but as Mr. Kendrick said in his July letter, “SLR could take a few decades to fully build out, but it is expected to exist in perpetuity.” He later added, “Our intention is to create a mega-site for innovation and a place for reshoring of American industry that previously moved abroad.” He also pointed to the future saying that, “the plans include development and construction of various residential, retail, commercial, industrial, hospitalities, hamlets, and recreation facilities throughout SLR.

During the 2023 legislative cycle, the Texas Legislature established the Sandow Municipal Utility District No. 1 which encompasses the site. A Municipal Utility District, or MUD, is a political subdivision of the State of Texas authorized by the TCEQ to provide utilities and other services within the MUD boundaries. The MUD is controlled by a board of directors, and they have monthly meetings which like any governmental group are open to the public. The agendas for these meetings are filed with the County Clerk’s office and posted on the webpage. As they develop, it would make sense the SLR will develop a website and these documents will go on their website as well.

The first part of the SLR development will be the Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics Campus (AMLC). The AMLC will be a world-class 3,300-acre industrial facility located next to FM 1786 and the former Sandow and Southern rail line. Most buildings inside the AMLC will be over a million square feet with a total of up to 50 million square feet of industrial space on the grounds. 

If you have driven down FM-1786 you can already see the clearing for the initial stage of the AMLC which is somewhere around 700 acres of space. We should start seeing the laying of roads and infrastructure in that area sometime in the next few months. 

I know many folks in Milam County are skeptical and that is to be expected. Since the closure of ALCOA in 2008 we have been led down several roads about what was to happen with the property. The list has been pretty spectacular with everything from a possible chance at the Amazon HQ2 all the way to a new Disneyland Park right here in central Texas. From all that we have seen so far and all that has been presented, it seems fairly safe to say that there is a lot going on out there on the south side of Milam County and lots more to come. 

In the early 1950’s, people in Milam County were skeptical and somewhat concerned with the happenings with this new company coming in and building an aluminum plant. Fast-forward 50 plus years and all that initial skepticism was long gone and most folks were sad to see the old plant close. As far as the SLR development is concerned, many people in Milam County are somewhat where the folks were in the early 1950’s, a little leery of the future and where Milam County is going in that future.

As a county, we are already growing, there’s no doubt about that. A new 660 home development in Rockdale and the new subdivisions in Thorndale alone speak to that. We have received roughly 2,000 new residents over the last few years with lots more on the way. And while there are proprietary issues that sometimes keep information from coming out of a development like SLR, just know that the commissioners and I are working with these groups to make sure that we have the infrastructure needed to not only accommodate these new developments, but firstly our long-established residents as well. 


The Cameron Herald

The Cameron Herald
P.O. Box 1230
Cameron, Texas 76520

Phone: 254-697-6671
Fax: 254-697-4902