City will remodel Council Chamber, court building

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By SHELLY WILKISON

City Council members approved an agreement with an architect for the renovation design of the Liberty Hill Municipal Court building where council meetings and court proceedings are held.

With Councilman Wendell McLeod in opposition, the Council voted 4-1 in a special meeting Monday to pay up to $6,400 to EVstudio Architectural & Engineering Design Consultants for a design for improvements to the building at 2801 RR 1869. Assistant City Manager Amber Lewis said $50,000 was allocated in the current budget to pay for the renovations.

“We want to rearrange the (council) room so it is more conducive to hold public meetings,” said City Manager Greg Boatright. “We need some AV (audio-visual) equipment, better seating and a conference room for executive sessions.”

Boatright said the building’s restroom would be updated as well as the foyer.

The city council has held meetings in the building for about 10 years, and municipal court proceedings are also held there. Prior to the City’s purchase of the property years ago, it was home to a restaurant.

“We need to freshen it up and make it more professional,” he said. “I think you guys (City Council) deserve it. You need a professional presence in our community.”

The City is building a new administration building downtown, but Boatright said it will not have space for a council meeting room. He said the two-story building will have office space and a conference room for small meetings, but the building will not be equipped to facilitate council meetings.

“We should wait until we get the new building done before we think about this,” said McLeod. “We’re spending too much money.”

Lewis said the two projects are being funded by different revenue streams. Utility funds are supporting the construction of the administration building as most of the work being done there will involve water and wastewater issues.

During Monday’s special meeting, the Council held two public hearings on Liberty Parke Public Improvement District (PID) and the BLW tract Planned Unit Development (PUD). No one addressed the Council during either public hearing.

The panel later adopted an ordinance rezoning the 82.28 acres that is the BLW tract on US Highway 183 and CR 259. The property, which was previously zoned agricultural, was annexed into the Liberty Hill city limits last month. The ordinance adopted this week changed the zoning to a Planned Unit Development, which allows for mixed use. No more than 50 percent of the development will be residential.

The Council also approved a development agreement with Liberty Parke that is different from one previously adopted.

Boatright explained that a new agreement became necessary after the developers closed this week on the adjacent 70 acres that was to be Liberty Meadows. Liberty Parke will now include that acreage in its single family homes development, which is located near Classic Bank on State Highway 29. The development will be inside the city limits.

The agreement provides for a $500,000 payment due right away to the City for infrastructure improvements. Pre-payment of utility connection fees in the amount of $250,000 will be due by August 1, 2016, which Boatright said would be reimbursed to the developer upon full payment received through building permits. The remaining payments for connection fees will become payable to the City at the time building permits are issued.

“This gives us an infusion of $750,000 to help with infrastructure costs,” Boatright said.

“It’s phenomenal how you (the Council) have added to the footprint for our City this year,” he said.

The Council took action on additional items relating to Liberty Parke PID, including unanimous adoption of a resolution that created the PID.

Additionally, the Council selected, also by a unanimous vote, the firm of FMS Bonds, Inc, R.R. Davenport, III, director, to underwrite the bonds that will finance the Liberty Parke PID. The City will not pay the firm. Instead, it will be compensated by the bonds.

Representatives from FMS Bonds and Jefferies Firm made presentations to the Council Nov. 23, and Assistant City Manager Amber Lewis made the recommendation Monday that the Council select FMS Bonds.

The Council also approved the recommendation of Senior Planner Sally McFeron and chose the real estate appraisal firm of The Aegis Group Inc. of Austin to conduct the appraisal of Liberty Parke for a fee of $12,500. McFeron said it was the lowest bid received of three companies.

The Council met 45 minutes in executive session where they were scheduled to discuss with legal counsel a 2006 agreement between Liberty Hill and Leander setting the boundaries of the two cities.

In November, Boatright announced that the City of Leander City Council had voted to terminate a boundary agreement with Liberty Hill. The area in question is around the Copper Ridge strip center on State Highway 29, just north of Ronald Reagan Blvd.

Also on the executive session agenda was a discussion of collection of utility and municipal court payments.

No action was taken on either item in public meeting. All members were present Monday.

The Council agreed to cancel the regular meeting scheduled Dec. 14. The next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 11, 2016.

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