The road to Mount Carmel is once again open to the public — but measures have been taken to limit gawkers.
McLennan County commissioners on Monday set a 40 mph speed limit for Double EE Ranch Road, which was closed in early July for repairs. In addition, signs were put up barring parking and standing on the road that runs in front of what was the Branch Davidians’ compound.
Commissioner Lester Gibson said the speed limit and signs are necessary to control crowds that flocked to Mount Carmel after the April 19 fire that destroyed the compound and killed more than 80 Branch Davidians, including cult leader Vernon Howell.
“In the opinion of the commissioners court, we had a hazardous situation,” Gibson said. “We had to do something. That’s why we adopted the regulations.”
No one appeared before commissioners to applaud or protest the speed limit.
Gibson said the changes are not meant to discourage people from visiting what Commissioner Wayne Davis said is “let’s face it, a tourist attraction,” the site of a 51-day standoff between federal authorities and the Branch Davidians.
Double EE Ranch Road is only 22 feet wide, Gibson said. Barrow ditches on either side handle drainage. The road’s narrowness makes it unsafe for people to park or stand on the road, he said. “. . . Before April 19, we didn’t need a speed limit or signs. But that’s changed. We basically have an urban traffic problem in what is a rural environment.”
Commissioners on Monday also appointed three members of a five-member committee that will study ordinances in other jurisdictions that govern sexually oriented businesses. The committee was appointed in the wake of an adult video store opening on unincorporated land near Northcrest, a little more than 700 feet from an elementary school.