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PEÑITAS, RGV -Peñitas is one of the oldest settlements in what is now the United States, having been founded in 1520. Now it is set to be one of the fastest growing communities in the Rio Grande Valley.

Omar Romero, the new city manager of Peñitas, plans to expand the city’s land to about 7,200 acres, build a school and construct a road that’ll run from Bus. 83 to 7 Mi. Line.

Omar Romero
Omar Romero

In a population of about 7,500 people, Romero said there is great potential for the City of Peñitas to grow. Within the next year, he hopes to annex an additional 1,700 acres–totaling the city’s acreage to about 7,200. Another thing Romero is doing to rebrand the city is investing $10 million in infrastructure projects in 2017 without increasing the taxes and debt to the citizens.

Other sources of revenue include the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ)–a subdivision of a county or city in Texas to implement tax increment financing–the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“The plan is rebuild and invest and that’s my order for my council,” Romero said. “Right now I have a $3.2 million dollar road project that’s going to be road and infrastructure that the TIRZ is investing.”

There are 700 acres worth of land in the city that has had as a TIRZ for the past 12 years. One major addition is a 100-unit apartment that was completed last year. With the $3.2 million road project, Romero said there are a lot of interests and there is a plan to build a school.

“The anticipated opening date from what I understand would be the class of 2018,” Romero said. “That’s a huge thing because we’d be the only town west of Mission that has a certain school. The reason it’s also a big deal is because the school is going to spur growth. It’s going to spur development, homes and jobs.”

The city also plans on investing a total of about $27 million from funding through the county, TIRZ, CDBG and USDA to build Liberty Blvd. Liberty will run from Bus. 83 to 7 Mi. Line. Romero also plans on repairing and resurfacing Tom Gill Rd. He said it is the only north-south artery for the city.

Romero said the city is gearing up for growth. For every annexation of land, additional officers or other law enforcement agents will be hired. The City of Peñitas recently ordered the COPsync program and will be installed in the next 60 days.

“The COPsync program sells to schools and courtrooms,” Romero said. “For example, it’s an application on a teacher’s phone and in the event of any kind of danger–gun or knife–the teacher starts the app and it automatically notifies the nearest five police officers that there’s a situation at that location.”