Council agrees staff should set fees to create development agreements

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By SHELLY WILKISON

In a unanimous vote Monday, the City Council authorized the City Administrator to execute fee agreements with developers seeking to do business with the City.

“This is not part of the fee schedule. This is specific to development agreements,” said City Administrator Greg Boatright.

He explained that each agreement is unique to each development project and the time invested by city staff to create each detailed document is significant. Developers should incur that cost as part of the agreement with the city.

Boatright said the move would allow the city to cover its costs of staff time and legal review.

He said it’s possible that the city could invest in the creation of an agreement only to have a developer pull out of a project. In such a case, the city would be at a loss.

“It’s not us being arbitrary in what we’re doing. This is what the City Council approved, and is part of doing business with the city,” he said.

Boatright said a typical fee agreement with a developer would require monies to be held in escrow to cover actual expenses by the City as it follows the process of the project. If monies remain at the end of the process, they would be returned to the developer.

“It’s to make sure there is an amount in escrow so the City is not supplementing the project,” he said.

In other business Monday, the Council voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of the Parks & Recreation Board and name the City’s new pocket park after Nathan Wetzel.

Wetzel was the first mayor of Liberty Hill when it was incorporated in 1999. (See related story on Page 1.)

The Council discussed a proposed agreement for the design and construction of Veterans Memorial Park on Loop 332, but no action was taken.

Boatright said staff felt like it was best to do a final walk through of the park and review the items proposed in the design, designating some as part of the future plan for the park as opposed to the immediate improvements.

For example, he said the design called for changes to the monuments that may not be necessary now as most contained plenty of space for additional names.

“We don’t want to get too far out in front of this,” he said. “One of the main concerns with the agreement was the overall price. We want to work to get it to be more reasonable.”

Boatright said $250,000 was budget for the redesign and improvements to the park. Funds will be available through the Tax Notes issued this fiscal year. A committee appointed by the Mayor to work on downtown improvements was scheduled to walk through the park and discuss the matter further this week.

Following a half-hour closed session, the Council voted unanimously to authorize Boatright to begin negotiations on the possible purchase of the Fowler Building located at 332 Myrtle Lane. Funds for the purchase will be used from Tax Notes.

Boatright told The Independent that he envisions the building being used as office space for the Economic Development Corp. and the Chamber of Commerce. The second floor of the building could be a museum to display art associated with the 1976 Liberty Hill International Sculpture Symposium, which was organized by sculptor Mel Fowler from his building downtown.
Boatright said he hoped to have a proposed contract for the purchase available for Council consideration Dec. 19.

During the public comments portion of the meeting Monday, developer Jon Branigan expressed his concerns about fees the City is charging that he believes are too costly.

“Some of these are exorbitant,” he said. “We all desire to seek positive growth and want to attract the right business. You want to recoup costs, but I think you can do it with lower costs.”

He suggested the City create a committee to review all of the fees associated with new developments.

On Monday, the Council held the first of two public hearings to receive comments on the proposed initiation of a strategic partnership agreement and potential full purpose voluntary annexation for Stonewall Municipal Utility District. No one spoke at the hearing and the second is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19.

The Council adopted a resolution authorizing the initiation of voluntary annexation proceedings into the City’s ETJ as well as an annexation ordinance for property along Bagdad Road that will be home to a new development — Highland Oaks. The development located near Silvercreek will have 123 lots. The Council will consider a development agreement next week.

The next regular meeting of the Council was scheduled for Dec. 26, but due to the Christmas holiday, that has been moved to 6:30 p.m. next Monday, Dec. 19.

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