Council rejects petition to annex land for townhomes, appoints Wise to EDC

By SHELLY WILKISON

  A petition for voluntary annexation of 10.3 acres of land — the proposed site of townhome apartments — was rejected by the Liberty Hill City Council Monday.

A motion made by Council member Vicki Brewer died for lack of a second. Council members Connie Fuller and Byron Tippie were not present Monday, and Councilmen  Wendell McLeod and Sammy Pruett expressed their concerns about the project.

“This is a glorified apartment complex, and it will increase traffic there,” said Pruett.

If the project receives approval this summer for federal housing tax credits from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, the 100-unit Liberty Trails Townhomes will be constructed on 9.5 acres on the Northeast corner of RR 1869 and State Highway 29. The mixed-income rental development, owned and managed by Picerne Development of Altamonte Springs, Florida, is vying against thousands of proposals from across the state for housing tax credits. A property that qualifies for the credits uses those to raise capital from private investors, thereby reducing the developer’s debt. Because the debt is lower, the property can offer lower priced rents that are based on a range of resident income levels.

The developer has stated that if the project is not approved for tax credits, it will not be built.

McLeod said he was opposed to the townhome project because unlike a proposed senior citzen rental community, it would add more students to the school district.

“This petition has no (impact) on the (state’s) decision whether they get the credits or not,” explained Mayor Jamie Williamson.

She said if the project is awarded the tax credits, the property will need to be annexed into the city boundaries to obtain water and sewer service from the City. The request for annexation would have simply put the process in motion where public hearings could be held before a final vote on the annexation is taken by the Council.

The City followed the same process on the annexation Monday of the site for Liberty Hill Manor, a proposed senior residential community. In a unanimous vote, the Council approved annexation of that property on State Highway 29 and Bailey Lane, which is owned by local real estate broker Clyde Davis. In another unanimous vote, the Council approved a zoning change on the property from agricultural to C-1 commercial. Both votes were taken following public hearings Monday at which no one signed up to speak on the issues.

“If there’s any chance that approving it (annexation petition for the property propsed for townhomes) will hurt that, then I’m against it,” McLeod said.

The Council previously approved resolutions supporting Liberty Trails Townhomes and offering funding for up to $15,000 worth of city water and sewer infrastructure should the project be approved for tax credits.

In other business Monday, the Council approved the appointment of David Wise to the Board of Directors of the Economic Development Corp. Wise fills a vacancy created by the resignation last month of Valerie Zapien.

Six people submitted applications for appointment, including the husbands of the Mayor and Mrs. Brewer, although Mayor Williamson said John Brewer had withdrawn his name from consideration prior to the meeting. The other candidates were asked to be present Monday. Mayor Williamson said the Bylaws required applicants to be present at the Council meeting where they were to be considered for appointment.

In addition to Wise, Council members reviewed the applications of Monroe Williamson (the Mayor’s husband), Teri Moore (the City’s contracted bookkeeper), Dax Oglesby (a petroleum landman), and Rick Montelongo (a health system administrator). Ms. Moore was not present Monday, which Mayor Williamson said disqualified her from consideration.

The Council did not ask any questions of any of the candidates before McLeod made a motion to appoint Wise. When asked by Mrs. Brewer why McLeod believed Wise would be more suited for the appointment, McLeod said he knew him better than the other applicants.

On his application, Wise states he is a contractor and owns Wise Top Soil and Gravel in Liberty Hill.

“He taught school,” McLeod said. “I think he is a pretty smart guy. Since Monroe Williamson’s wife is the Mayor, I don’t think he should serve.”

Pruett supported McLeod’s motion and Mrs. Brewer voted no.

In February, the Council voted to appoint Shane White and Jack Harkrider to the EDC Board. Mayor Williamson said the City has yet to receive an application from White. Neither White or Harkrider were present at the Council meeting where they were appointed to serve. Both were recommended for appointment by a vote of the EDC Board.

Mayor Williamson said she had visited with EDC President Frank Spinosa “and he didn’t have anyone in mind for the appointment.” Spinosa was not present Monday.

In another split vote Monday, the Council approved the position of Public Works Department Maintenance Worker. The position will be a part-time job restricted to 30 hours per week.

McLeod cast the no vote suggesting that Kirk had time to take care of mowing duties.

“We are fixing to be into spring with rain and lots of mowing. Mr. Kirk is going to be busy and can’t keep up,” said Mayor Williamson, citing Kirk’s current duties and the City’s mowing obligations.

The Mayor said the position, which was created and funded in the current budget, was needed primarily to assist with mowing duties this spring and summer. Utility Superintendent Brian Kirk will hire and supervise the employee.

“Based on his (Kirk’s) title, he is required to have that other person to be the exempt employee. He needs an employee (to supervise) to staisfy his title,” Mayor Williamson said.

She said the Council had budgeted $27,000 for salaries and equipment and projected spending $12 per hour for 30 hours per week. As a part-time employee, the person selected will not qualify for health insurance or other benefits. She said the City will have to purchase another lawn mower and the worker will be shuttled to and from job sites by Kirk because the City owns only one maintenance vehicle.

In other business, the Council:

* Gave final approval on Phase 3A of the wastewater collection system, which was recently completed by Qro Mex Construction Co.

* Voted unanimously to hire T. Morales Co. for $2,000 to ground four legs of the water storage tank behind the water office to protect a well-monitoring system from crashing in case of a lightning strike.

* Unanimously approved a performance evaluation of Liberty Hill Police Sgt. Jeff Ringstaff following a 15-minute executive session.