The standoff between residents and city officials continues to fester over disagreements surrounding building a 949-acre railroad development.

Gunter, located in the north of Texas, is named for Johnathan “Jot” Gunter, who donated the land. In 1902, the St. Louis, San Francisco, and Texas Railway was built through Gunter. More than a century later, the railroad is passing more than locomotives. This time, what is passing through is controversy, allegations of conspiracy, and a refusal to compromise, according to The Texas Tribune.

The planned rail facility drawing scrutiny would be the city’s largest development and include an agreement with BNSF Railway. The project was unanimously greenlit in May 2023 by the city council. However, city officials failed to alert residents of the proposed development.

Some of those opposed to the project are recent transplants who say they moved to the area to avoid the disruption, noise, and pollution that the facility is expected to bring.

The lack of transparency has fueled mistrust among the town’s 2,500 residents. Contentious public meetings, personal attacks, and a breakdown in community relations have emerged due to the lack of transparency around the planned rail facility. Some residents have accused the town’s leadership of being out of touch and corrupt.

​In July 2023, dozens of Gunter residents descended on a city council meeting to voice their displeasure with the project, citing concerns over the facility’s proximity.

“I didn’t pay that much tax for the last eight years to be next to a train yard,” Gunter resident Jennifer Jolly said at the meeting, per KTEN.

Last month, citing a hostile work environment, all five city council members and the city manager resigned. As a result, essential city functions have effectively come to a halt, with Mayor Karen Souther unable to appoint temporary replacements without a quorum of council members.

While essential city services continue to run, major projects and decisions, like development agreements and budget changes, have been left sidelined.

​“Two large developers need action, and it is going to cost them a lot of money if they have to wait until May,” Souther told The Dallas Morning News.

Without a town newspaper and no press release, residents often shared information about the project on social media, raising concerns over the accuracy of details. To make matters worse, online forums covering the news reportedly censored posts that the administrators found objectionable.

To address the council vacancy crisis, former council members have agreed to attend meetings covering urgent city matters, provided Mayor Souther does not appoint a replacement in the interim ahead of a special election.

Reflecting on the ordeal, the former council members admitted the project was not adequately communicated with residents.

For her part, Mayor Souther said she regrets initially supporting the project.