Council seeking public input at Monday’s meeting

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

A pair of topics for discussion highlight the city council agenda Monday, and the City needs input.

The downtown one-way streets plan and the Uniform Development Code (UDC) are scheduled for separate public hearings and council members hope the community will attend and be part of the debate.

Mayor Connie Fuller said previously she hoped this meeting would create an opportunity to discuss the UDC proposal in detail, as a number of proposed changes have become contentious.

“(The UDC) will be a big issue, simply because there is disagreement over some of the things that are included in the new language,” City Administrator Greg Boatright said. “It will be interesting as to where the discussion goes and how receptive Council will be to voting on many of these issues that have to do with the changes on an individual basis.”

Among the sticking points are concerns raised by Parks & Recreation Board members regarding the proposed frontage requirements for park projects, allowances for parkland to be designated in the floodplain, and requirements for wastewater and water taps at all parks.

The message from the Parks Board is that the wording in the UDC should remain unchanged. Board members told Council in January that they were opposed to the proposed changes. In response, Council Member Jon Branigan came to the January Parks Board meeting to discuss the issues further, though neither side appeared to change its position.

“I know there’s going to be a hearing on Feb. 12, is that correct?” Parks Board Chair Mary Lyn Jones told Branigan Jan. 23. “So what I would suggest is if you could make those changes, that we could see that we talked about, and then of course we would be at the hearing, too, to say what the Parks Board recommends.”

Branigan countered that the Parks Board needed to come up with proposed changes and present them to the Council.

“You guys are coming to make public comments to the City Council,” he said. “I would encourage you guys, if you want changes to wording, to come up with some kind of wording because the City Council has to vote on that stuff.”

Also of concern is a proposed board of adjustments and rules for development in the City’s extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ).

Council member Ron Rhea has voiced his concerns about a board of adjustments in the past, arguing the council already serves in that capacity.

“We already said no to the Board of Adjustments,” Rhea said previously. “The City Council is the Board of Adjustments. I checked with TML Legal (Texas Municipal League), and there’s not one General Law city that has a Board of Adjustments.”

In terms of the city’s influence on development in the ETJ, the UDC includes a provision that addresses the interpretation of the rules when the UDC is in conflict with requirements of the county, “the requirement that is least restrictive or that imposes lower standards as determined by the City Council will apply.”

“That’s a concern for some on the council and its a concern for staff because it removes any influence we would have going forward in our ETJ and would remove us from the ability to try and shape that,” Boatright said. “Our concern is that in the not to distant future, more than likely that area would come into the city. And we don’t want buildings that don’t meet the requirements and building codes that we have adopted.”

Two-way talk on one-way streets
The Council also hopes to get feedback on the proposal to turn six downtown streets one-way to improve traffic flow and create more practical use due to most of the streets being so narrow.

“The Council really wants to try and get all the information out to the residents about what’s being considered,” Boatright said of the one-way streets plan. “There’s been a lot of discussion about it in the past, but I think Council wanted to put a lot of emphasis on informing the public. We’ll have a good indication Monday night about how soon we will move forward with the redirection of traffic here in the downtown area.”

The plan, as presented, includes making Aynsworth, Munro and Myrtle streets one-way south, while Fallwell and Grange streets will be one-way north. Barton will be one-way north toward RR 1869, where a divider will allow traffic to go either direction on RR 1869.

The proposed cost of the project, to include signage and necessary street improvements at intersections, is $36,522.50.

Boatright said it would be roughly a 45-day process to install signage and improve the intersections as the changes are made.

The Council meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12, at 2801 Ranch Road 1869.

Mike@LHIndependent.com

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