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5 handy tips to help students thrive in College Station

We Love TAMU

 

By Lacey Lively, Marketing & Community Outreach Coordinator

If you’re a student either returning to College Station or moving here for the first time, learning about basic city ordinances is probably not high on your to-do list. But if you ignore our local laws, you might find yourself paying some costly citations out of your already tight budget.

As one of America’s top college towns, we want to help you avoid that so you can concentrate on more important things – like Aggie football!

These simple tips can help you thrive in College Station:

1. Meet your neighbors.

If you haven’t already, make time to meet your neighbors and exchange contact information in case of emergencies or other problems. If an issue arises, would you rather they call you or the police?

2. Keep the noise down.

No matter where you live, be mindful of noise coming from your home, including barking dogs and intense music. It’s unlawful for anyone to willfully make or allow continued loud noise, especially from 10 p.m.-7 a.m.

As a general rule, if you can hear the noise at the end of your property line, then it’s too loud and everyone on your lease risks receiving a citation. If you are bothered by noise and can’t resolve the issue on your own, complaints can be reported to the College Station Police Department at 979.764.3600.

3. Avoid code violations.

If you live off campus in a duplex, fourplex or house, here are other city ordinances you should know:

  • Trash: After your trash has been collected, you have 12 hours to remove your container from the street. Trash should be securely stored in the provided container until your scheduled pickup day, and the lid should be secured so litter doesn’t spread. If you know you’re going have a lot of trash, call the Sanitation Department at 979.764.3690 and they can provide an additional pick up or bin at no charge.
  • Parking: Don’t park vehicles or motorcycles on the grass, and be sure not to block driveways, mailboxes or roadways.
  • Yards: Weeds and grass shouldn’t exceed 12 inches in height.
  • Open Storage: Don’t store anything in your yard or patio that’s not intended for outdoor use. Firewood can be stored on the side or in the backyard.
  • Fliers/Signs: Nothing should be placed on utility poles, street signs or in the public right-of-way.
  • Residential Occupancy: No more than four unrelated people can share a single-family residence. A violation of this ordinance could result in a fine.

For more details on city codes, visit cstx.gov/codeenforcement or call 979.764.6363.

4. Tag your pet.

All dogs, cats and ferrets are required to be licensed, tagged and vaccinated in Brazos County. Even if your pet is licensed elsewhere, you’ll still need to tag them here. The tag provides 24-hour support for lost pets, up to $500 in trauma support, rides for lost or injured pets, rabies vaccine reminders, reduced impoundment fees and funds to support our local shelter.

Brazos County pet license tags are $15 and can be purchased through local veterinarians or the Aggieland Humane Society. Learn more at cstx.gov/animalcontrol or call 979.775.5755.

5. Stay informed.

Keep up with city events, programs, emergencies, traffic, construction, utility notices and etc., by following us on Twitter or Facebook.

Gig ‘em, and have a great year!

Start Smart Football draws up winning play for youth

Rob Hainer / 123RF Stock PhotoIn many cases, a child’s first organized sports experience is through a league that focuses on competition rather than learning the basic skills they need to succeed.

Prior to joining competitive youth programs, kids need to master the fundamental athletic skills that serve as a foundation for developing more complex skills. If forced into competitive situations too soon, children can quickly become frustrated — and so can their parents.

For a child to have the best chance at enjoying a sport and being successful, a proper, age-appropriate period of instruction is crucial. That’s why the College Station Parks and Recreation Department has joined forces with the National Alliance for Youth Sports to offer Start Smart Football.

Start Smart FootballDesigned for kids ages 4-6, the program teaches the basic skills needed for organized football while kids work one-on-one and spend quality time with their parents. The program focuses on teaching fundamental mechanics outside a competitive environment without the fear of getting hurt.

Start Smart Football sessions are conducted once a week for six weeks, with the exercises becoming more difficult as the class progresses and the children show improvement. Here’s a closer look at how the program works:

Sports Readiness Pretest & Skill Development Exercises

Week 1: Throwing at a large target, catching above the waist, kicking from a tee for distance, running and agility.

Skill Development Exercises

Week 2: Throwing for distance and accuracy at a large and small target, catching below the waist and to the side of the body, running and then kicking from the tee for distance, kicking for distance and accuracy at a large target, running and agility.

Week 3: Throwing for accuracy at two smaller targets, catching above the waist and below the waist while moving, kicking without a tee, kicking for accuracy to parents, running and agility.

Week 4: Throwing to a partner, catching to the side of the body while moving, catching from above, hold and punt, running and agility.

Week 5: Throwing in a circle of participants, throwing at a moving target, jump and catch, catching with flags, punting for distance, punting for accuracy, running and agility.

Skills Development Exercises & Mock Game

Week 6: Throwing for distance and accuracy to a moving target, catching while going out for a pass, punting for accuracy to parents, running and agility.

Register your child today!

Registration closes Friday, Sept. 5, with the program starting Sept. 15. The cost is $70 per child and includes an NFL logo reversible jersey and one set of flags.

To register online, go to rectrac.cstx.gov or drop by the Parks and Recreation Office at 1000 Krenek Tap Rd. For more information, go to cstx.gov/sports or call 979.764.3486.

Kelli Nesbitt
Kelli Nesbitt | Marketing Coordinator
 
 
 
Photo Copyright: Rob Hainer/123RF Stock Photo
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Back to School: What you need to know about rental regulations, parking and code enforcement

IMG_2123Neighborhood integrity concerns are a hot topic in College Station, and rental development in our neighborhoods has raised several questions. Here’s what you need to know as we head into a new school year.

What’s considered a family?

The city’s Unified Development Ordinance defines a family as “one or more persons occupying a single dwelling unit, provided that unless all members are related by blood, adoption, guardianship, marriage, or are part of a group home for disabled persons, no such family shall contain more than four persons.”

As an example, four friends living together in a home are complying with the ordinance. Four siblings living together are also complying with the ordinance, but if an unrelated friend moved in, it would be a code violation.

This definition has remained the same – always limiting the number of unrelated individuals to four – since at least 1972, when Texas A&M was still adjusting to allowing women to enroll and not requiring students to be in the Corps of Cadets. The non-reg students needed housing and some was provided off campus.

Homes occupied by student renters are still classified as single-family structures. The city can’t regulate the end user of a structure – student renters or a traditional family –  but as part of the plan review and inspection process, staff works to ensure that all building code requirements are met.

What’s being done about parking issues?

To reduce neighborhood parking problems, the College Station City Council recently approved regulations for new construction. Developers are required to pick one of the following parking solutions:

  • Wider streets, which allows for safer passing of cars parked on either side of the street.
  • Narrower streets, which disables the option to park on the street.
  • Parking removal with platting, which allows no parking on one or both sides of the street.
  • Visitor alley-fed off-street parking, which allows parking in the back of lots.
  • Wide lot frontages, which allows more space for parking on the lot and out of the street.
  • Visitor parking areas, which are a designated visitor area in the development.

BeFunky_Parking2.jpgIn addition, the minimum amount of off-street parking for new construction has increased from two total spaces to one space for each bedroom, with a maximum of four required spaces. Since this could increase the amount of paved surface in front yards, paving is also limited to no more than 50 percent of the front portion of the lot.

If a street is congested and the Fire Department determines it’s impassable, the city council will consider removing on-street parking for safety reasons.

How does the city handle code enforcement?

The city takes a three-pronged approach for code violations:

    1. Code Enforcement Division: If you suspect a property is in violation of any regulations, please contact Code Enforcement at 979-764-6363.
    2. Police: The College Station Police Department has several programs designed to protect citizens and help them report noise and parking violations:
      • For code violations, contact the Community Enhancement Unit.
      • The Party Patrol is typically activated during football season when call volumes for loud parties are high. It allows other officers to focus on larger safety concerns such as traffic accidents.
      • Beats are designated patrol areas that are the main point of contact regarding safety concerns in neighborhoods. You should avoid contacting them about code violations such as parking or trash in yards.
    3. Rental Registration: The city council recently strengthened the rental registration ordinance by providing the option of assessing administrative penalties for code violations and authorizing the city to review a copy of the lease.

For more information, contact Planning & Development Services at 979-764-3570.

Lance Simms
Lance Simms Director
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Payday, auto title lending ordinance takes effect Wednesday

untitledEmergency cash is needed for a variety of reasons — cars break down, children get sick or injured, and sometimes jobs are lost.

In 2013, 4,557 people in the College Station-Bryan Metropolitan Statistical Area visited a Credit Access Business (CAB) and used payday and auto title loans to meet their need for emergency funds. They borrowed $6 million and paid $4 million in fees, according to the Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner.

Payday loans are small cash advances with two-week terms — with interest and fees applied. Payday and auto title loans offered by CABs are made by non-affiliated third-party lenders with the CAB acting as a loan broker guaranteeing the loan. Profit is derived from fees charged for their services. In 2013, the average amount Texans borrowed per loan was $463.

For auto title loans, a car title is used as collateral. If the borrower defaults, the lender can take the car. Borrowers usually have a one-month loan term with interest and fees applied. In 2013, the average amount borrowed was $1,239.

What’s the problem?

One of the main problems with these loans is that the principal is not reduced if the loan is not paid in full at the end of the short term. High fees are often paid month after month without reducing the loan amount, effectively trapping the borrower in a cycle of debt.

For example, if someone takes out a $500 loan, they will owe about $610 dollars two weeks later. If the borrower can’t pay back the full amount, they must pay $110 to refinance the loan. After two more weeks, if the borrower again can’t pay back the full amount, they must pay another $110 to refinance the loan again. With no partial repayments of principal, the balance never goes down.

CAB Ordinance

Thanks to the Credit Access Business Ordinance that takes effect Wednesday, credit access businesses must now register with the City of College Station. In addition to client disclosure and record keeping requirements, the ordinance sets the maximum amount of a loan and restricts how many times a loan can be refinanced. Here are the ordinance’s key terms:

  • A credit access business must apply for and receive a certificate of registration from the city.
  • A credit access business must maintain complete records of all loans made by the business for at least three years and make the records available to the city for inspection upon request.
  • The amount of a payday loan may not exceed 20 percent of the borrower’s gross monthly income.
  • The amount of an auto title loan may not exceed the lesser of three percent of the borrower’s gross annual income or 70 percent of the retail value of the motor vehicle.
  • Any loan from a credit access business that provides for repayment in installments may not be payable in more than four installments, and the proceeds from each installment must be used to repay at least 25 percent of the loan’s principal. No renewals or refinancing of installment-payment loans are permitted.
  • Any loan from a credit-access business that provides for a single lump sum repayment may not be refinanced or renewed more than three times, and the proceeds from each refinancing or renewal must be used to repay at least 25 percent of the loan’s principal. Any loan made to a consumer within seven days of a previous loan being paid by the consumer constitutes a refinancing or renewal.

For more information about local financial education and empowerment resources, dial 211 for 2-1-1 Texas.

Photo Credit: HelenCobain via Compfight cc
 
David Brower
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Live Blog: Monday’s city council meetings (Aug. 25)

gavel[1]This is a live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Monday, Aug. 25. It’s not the official minutes.

Both meetings are being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and can also be watched online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

6:02 p.m.

The workshop has started.

6:09 p.m.

Council Agenda Discussion

The council will vote on items listed on the consent agenda during tonight’s regular meeting. These items were pulled for workshop discussion:

  • Branch Banking & Trust: This item is for assignment of the bank depository contract with Citibank and BB&T, and an agreement to extend the depository contract with BB&T. The existing contract with Citibank was part of BB&T’s acquisition of CityBank in June. As a show of good faith, BB&T executed a letter of intent acknowledging the existing contract between Citibank and the city and agreed to honor the pricing through September 30, 2015, the last renewal period.
  • Chimney Hill Janitorial Services: This item is for the second renewal of a contract with Professional Floor Service for routine cleaning in the Chimney Hill Center and Northgate District. A change order will remove the janitorial services at Chimney Hill upon sale of the property.

6:12 p.m. 

After the council discussed its calendar, future agenda items and committee reports, the workshop meeting was adjourned. The regular meeting will start at 7 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

7:14 p.m.

Historic Marker Presentation

The city council and its Historic Preservation Committee presented a historic marker to Carla Fisher for her home on  Winding Road. Ms. Fisher’s home is the 88th recipient under College Station’s Historic Marker Program.

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Here’s the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

 

7:20 p.m.

Hear Visitors

Two people signed up to speak during Hear Visitors, when citizens may address the council on any item that doesn’t appear on the posted agenda. One spoke about the city’s need to work with developers to preserve College Station’s character by renovating and restoring older homes and structures. Ben Roper recognized Army Pfc. Anthony S. Miller as part of the Fallen Heroes Memorial program. A native of San Antonio, Miller was 19 years old when he was killed in Iraq by indirect enemy fire on April 7, 2003.

7:20 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve these consent items:

  • A three-year agreement not to exceed $64,450 with Selectron Technologies for the IVR solution for customer inquiry and over-the-phone payment of utility bills.
  • A $273,850 contract with Kimley-Horn and Associates for design, bidding, and construction phase services for the Rock Prairie Road West Widening Project.
  • A $19,000 funding increase — for a total not to exceed $67,000 — to Miller Uniforms for police uniforms.
  • Assignment of the bank depository contract with Citibank and Branch Banking and Trust, and an agreement to extend the depository contract with BB&T.
  • The $91,670 purchase of equipment to monitor and analyze electrical usage in water production and wastewater treatment.
  • The second renewal of a contract not to exceed $59,627 with Professional Floor Service & Janitorial for annual janitorial services for the Northgate District and Chimney Hill Center.
  • The second renewal of a $145,444 contract with Shelby Building Maintenance & Janitorial for annual janitorial services for city buildings.
  • Three contracts with N. Harris Computer Corporation – a software license agreement ($191,040), a software implementation services agreement ($645,696), and a support and maintenance agreement (First Year: $47,760).

7:28 p.m. 

Land Use Change at Rock Prairie and Holleman

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to amend the city’s Comprehensive Plan by changing the land use designation for 3751 Rock Prairie Road West from Restricted Suburban to Suburban Commercial to allow for a convenience store. The property is generally located at the southwest corner of Rock Prairie Road West and Holleman Drive.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

 

8:16 p.m. 

E-Cigarette Regulations

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to defer an ordinance regulating electronic cigarettes until the Sept. 11 council meeting. The proposed regulations would prohibit minors (17 years old and younger) from purchasing or possessing e-cigarettes and would also ban the use of e-cigarettes where tobacco smoking isn’t allowed. A motion by Councilmember James Benham to pass the ordinance with only the restrictions on minors failed by a 5-2 vote. Karl Mooney also voted for the motion.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

 

8:30 p.m.

Agreement with StataCorp

The council voted unanimously to approve an economic development agreement with StataCorp that abandons part of Technology Way, expedites permitting, waives of the right-of-way abandonment application fee, and dedicates of about 30 acres of greenways to parkland. In exchange, StataCorp will construct a $3 million commercial office building at 210 Technology Way, and add 15 professional positions or an annual payroll increase of $1 million. If StataCorp fails to meet its obligations, the company will reimburse the city $2.80 per square foot of the abandoned right-of-way along with the abandonment application fee.

Here is the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

 

8:31 p.m.

BVSWMA Board Appointment

The council voted unanimously to approve the reappointment of Karl Mooney and Rick Floyd to the BVSWMA, Inc., Board of Directors. Mooney will serve a one-year term and Floyd will serve three years.

8:31 p.m.

The regular meeting has been adjourned. The council meets again Sept. 11.

 

Five things to watch at Monday’s city council meetings

gavel[1]The College Station City Council gathers Monday at city hall for its workshop (est. 5:30 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings. Here are five items to watch:  

  1. Historic Marker: The Historic Preservation Committee will present a historic marker to Carla Fisher for her home at 1213 Winding Rd.
  2. Rock Prairie Road Widening : As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider a contract for the design and other services for the Road Prairie Road West Widening Project, which will improve the capacity of the street and align additional lanes with the State Highway 6 overpass.
  3. E-cigarette Ordinance: The council will consider an ordinance prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and the use of the devices where tobacco products are not permitted. If approved, the ordinance would become effective in 20 days.
  4. Agreement with StataCorp: The council will consider an economic development agreement with StataCorp that would include the abandonment of part of Technology Way, expedited permitting, waiver of the right-of-way abandonment application fee, and the dedication of about 30 acres of greenways to parkland.
  5. BVSWMA Board: The council will consider two appointments to the BVSWMA, Inc., Board of Directors. The terms of the city’s current representatives expire Sept. 30.

 The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Ch. 19, or online. Previous council meetings are archived on the website. A detailed live blog from the meetings will be posted on this site and also can be accessed through the city’s Facebook page.

Related links:

Colin Killian
 
 
Colin Killian | Communications & Marketing Specialist
 
 
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