Pezold calls out Canady on residency status

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By Rachel Madison

The City Council is making a formal inquiry into code violations at Council member Kathy Canady’s Quick Service Garage on Loop 332, where she currently lives.

The Council voted Wednesday night to direct staff to make the inquiry into code compliance at the garage, where Canady has lived for the past three years. The decision came after a nearly two and a half hour executive session. Canady recused herself from voting, and the motion passed unanimously among the rest of the council.

The formal inquiry comes on the heels of a discussion at the Council’s Nov. 22 meeting, when Council member Chris Pezold took the opportunity during the closing statements segment to raise the issue of Canady’s residency status.

The residency of Canady was questioned by fellow members of the City Council in October — more than a year after it was initially discussed — when Council member Crystal Mancilla asked City Attorney Marianella Joseph to look into the legality of Canady living in her business. At that time, Joseph said she would investigate these concerns for a definite answer, but the issue has not been addressed publicly since then.

Council votes not to consider ethics complaint – Oct 3, 2020

City rejects Canady eligibility challenge – Sept. 10, 2020

Canady residency in question – Sept. 3, 2020

“This was an informational and fact-driven conversation,” Joseph said in October. “I don’t think we have all the facts. The law is broad in residency requirements and zoning. It’s premature to make a decision. Council should visit this issue again once we have done proper fact finding and provided information, but that’s not tonight.”

The zoning for Canady’s garage is C2, which has listed uses of both residential and commercial based in the City’s Unified Development Code (UDC). According to the UDC, the C2 zoning category does allow for both business and residential use, but the property must be designated a business or residence and may not serve as both. The City’s UDC, which is posted on the City website, also contains a list of prohibited home occupations including “Automobile or mechanical paint or repair shops.”

Pezold said last week that his concerns come primarily from a safety standpoint.

“The intent of the law is that you don’t have a living space where you’ve got combustible materials,” he said, citing some of the developments he has built in recent years, like the Stubblefield Apartments. “When I built my apartments, they all had to be sprinkled, and we had to do firewalls. Every year, I have to pay thousands to get them inspected even though we have fire sprinklers and separation walls, and we don’t have any combustible materials in there.”

Pezold said that he’s learned that if firefighters respond to a fire in an auto garage, they typically do not go inside because of the potential for dangerous explosions due to chemicals and flammables that are typically on site. Pezold’s son recently graduated from a firefighter academy, and because of that, he is concerned for his son’s and other firefighters’ safety.

“They’re going to come in and spray from the outside because if they go in there, there could be all different types of flammables and explosions that are going to be going off at different times,” he said. “But if there’s someone living there, our first responders have an obligation to go into that situation when normally they would say, ‘No, this is too dangerous.’ That’s the intent of the law in saying we don’t want a person living in a shop. It isn’t if there was a home business there before or if it was grandfathered in.”

Pezold added that he wasn’t trying to harass Canady. Instead, he was trying to explain the reality of the dangers of her living in an auto garage.

“This isn’t harassment; this is the reality,” he said. “It’s tough. I’m getting emotional because I’m thinking about my kid being a firefighter and going into a situation like that.”

Following Pezold’s comments, Canady said she didn’t have any problems in her garage with combustibles, other than being told she needed to “put some greasy rags in a container” and store any gas outside.

“Anybody that parks a car in a garage at their house has the same issue,” she added, to which Pezold argued wasn’t true.

Council member Tony DeYoung, who has worked as a firefighter, said in his experience, if a building like an auto garage was on fire, first responders would go in if they suspected someone was inside, but not to the imminent detriment of their health.

“They will surround and drown if they have to, and that’s a judgment call for the commanding officer,” he said. “In my experience, they’re not going in there to go find somebody because it’s too dangerous. It’s a judgment call on the fire ground. There are definite red flags for things that can be cleaned up or separated from a combustible area of a garage versus the living quarters. So, it’s not really a cut and dry kind of thing.”

Another facet of Canady’s questioned residency is a loan document that she signed on May 29, 2019, for a “Designation of Homestead and Affidavit of Nonhomestead.” On the affidavit, Canady claims 402 S. Boundary Street in Burnet as her homestead property. The address is a triplex near downtown Burnet.

In signing that document, Canady swore that “(She) does not now and does not intend ever to reside on, use in any manner, or claim (her) Nonhomestead Property as a business or residence homestead.” The document also states that “the above-described Homestead Property is designated as the homestead of (her) family,” and “(she) now owns and resides on, uses, claims, and designates (her) Homestead Property as (her) only legal homestead, exempt from forced sale under the Constitution and laws of Texas.”

“I have never lived in Burnet,” Canady said in October. “[This affidavit] was required by the title company to be signed to close the loan I needed with my investor. It protects my investor. When we started to close, I said I live here (in Liberty Hill), and they said, ‘You can’t live here; you have to say you live somewhere else to dispel the homestead issue.’ I had to close because I had a very short window of time. I was told people do it all the time, and ‘When you walk out of here, you’re done,’ so I did. But I don’t live there, I live here.”

Pezold emphasized once again that his concerns for Canady were being above reproach and making sure she was not putting herself in danger by living in her garage.

“I’ll tell you what,” Canady said. “If my building catches fire, Chris, don’t come.”

“Oh shit, don’t start with that,” Pezold replied.

“Don’t ‘oh shit’ me,” Canady fired back. “You brought this up.”

DeYoung interjected and said, “I think that’s enough of that.”

Canady finished the conversation by saying, “I didn’t start it (the argument) and I didn’t say it first (oh shit).”

Canady was appointed to the Council in 2019 to fill a vacancy in Place 2 created with the resignation of Ron Rhea. She ran unopposed in May 2020, and her term expires in May 2022.

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