This blog is a summary of the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, April 28, and is not the official minutes. Changes made to specific items will be recorded in the minutes, which will be available in approximately two weeks. Click here to view the complete workshop and regular meeting packets.
Place 4 Council Member Katy-Marie Lyles was ill and did not attend either meeting.
Workshop Meeting Highlights
Maroon Bike Program
Karen Gauss, leader of the Maroon Bike Project, and Ron Steedly, Texas A&M Alternative Transportation Director, briefed the council on the Maroon Bike Network, a proposed bicycle rental system for the Bryan/College Station area. This program would provide individuals an opportunity to ride a bike without the expense of purchasing one. The city would provide no funding. Cities such as San Antonio, Minneapolis, Chicago, Des Moines, Denver and others have successfully instituted similar systems. Among the program’s benefits are that it’s fast, convenient and flexible; designed for short trips and errands; multi-modal and extends the transit network at relatively low costs; reduces traffic congestion; and promotes cycling as an urban transportation mode. Such a system requires a fleet of bikes, docking stations, user registration and payment systems. On average, one bike is needed for every 110 people. If all the bikes are taken from a docking station, the terminal will tell the renter where the next closest bike can be found. A bike can be picked up from any location and returned to another docking station. The Maroon Bike Project envisions eight or nine stations on the Texas A&M campus with additional locations throughout the city.
Planning and Development Director Bob Cowell provided an overview of the city’s web-based initiative called SeeClickFix, a problem-reporting system that initially is dealing with code enforcement issues. The web site and smart phone application supplements existing partnerships between code enforcement officers and residents, property owners, students and others, and are an additional means to report code violations and other non-emergency issues. The website and smart phone application are available to citizens for free through SeeClickFix.com. The service costs the city $100 per month and will be integrated into the city’s new mobile website, which will be launched this spring.
City Charter Review
The council addressed the scope of the Citizens Charter Review Commission and provided direction about the city charter provisions it would like to see reviewed. The 10-member commission was appointed by the council in February and will soon begin the review process, which is intended to ensure that charter provisions comply with state law. The review is expected to take several months and culminate with recommendations to the council. Proposed changes to the charter ultimately would be decided by voters, possibly as soon as the November 2011 election.
City Secretary Sherry Mashburn recommended a review of the following provisions:
• Article III, Section 21 (Vacancies)
• Article IX (Nominations and Elections)
• Article X (Initiative, Referendum, and Recall)
• Article XI (Franchises and Public Utilities)
Update on BioCorridor Inter-Local Agreement
City Manager David Neeley updated the council on a potential inter-local agreement between the cities of College Station and Bryan for the joint development of the Research Valley BioCorridor. The agreement is expected to be brought back to the Council at the May 12 meeting. The master plan includes a 3,500-acre corridor on the western edge of town. The draft agreement establishes the initial size of the development, provides for Ad Valorem revenue sharing on real and personal property, and will exist only in a defined area. It also incorporates current economic development guidelines, adopts joint building/site design standards and provides for phased roadway infrastructure.
Regular Meeting Highlights
This is not a complete list. Click here to view all the consent items. The council unanimously approved all the consent agenda items except the following, which were decided individually.
• Castlegate II Water Line Improvement: The council approved by a 4-2 vote a water line improvement in the Castlegate II Subdivision. The total requested city participation is $29,730. Voting against were Jess Fields and Jana McMillan.
• Lick Creek Nature Center Debt Reimbursement: Council approved by a 5-1 vote a “Resolution Declaring Intention to Reimburse Certain Expenditures with Proceeds from Debt” for expenditures related to the Lick Creek Nature Center, which was authorized by the voters as part of the 2008 General Obligation Bond (GOB) package. Interim Parks and Recreation Director David Schmitz explained that the $100,000 for this year is limited to a preliminary conceptual design. Voting against was Jana McMillan.
Budget Amendment No. 2
The council unanimously approved Budget Amendment No. 2, which amends the FY2011 budget to increase the general fund appropriation for the Weingarten settlement in the amount of $1.6 million. The settlement agreement was approved unanimously by the council in March. This item will be funded out of the general fund balance, which can be used for one-time expenditures.
Longmire Parking Removal
Council approved by a 5-1 vote an ordinance to remove parking along the east side of Longmire Drive between FM2818 and Valley View Drive, and on Valley View west of the Longmire intersection. The roadway will be striped with bike lanes on both sides, and the lost parking spaces will be replaced by new spaces on Valley View. Police Chief Jeff Capps spoke in favor of the ordinance, citing bicycle safety. Voting against the ordinance was Jana McMillan.
Impact Fees for Water/Wastewater
Council voted 4-2 to terminate the possible implementation of system-capacity impact fees for water and wastewater, and to retain the five existing impact lines. The fees would have provided revenue to pay part of the cost to increase capacity of these systems, reducing the financial burden on rate-paying customers. The vote continues the city’s existing system in which utility customers pay for all system capacity increases through their rates. Voting to implement the impact fees and eliminate the existing impact lines were Dennis Maloney and John Crompton.
The council approved two amendments to the city’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), which are the first in a series of possible amendments designed to make College Station more business-friendly. The first amendment eliminates regulations on the letter design and colors for signs, except expressly prohibited colors. The second amendment relates to design elements required for small accessory commercial buildings such as pool houses. Materials and colors will still be required to be similar to the related primary building, but the UDO no longer requires such things as awnings, pilasters, or other design elements. No council member voted against either amendment. Jess Fields abstained from the vote on the sign regulations since he is a potentially affected business owner.
Council Agendas and Minutes
(Official minutes of Thursday’s meetings will be available in two weeks)