Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (Sept. 12)

This is a live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, Sept. 12. 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.

6:09 p.m.

The workshop meeting has started.

6:13 p.m.

Mayor Nancy Berry proclaimed September as National Preparedness Month with a presentation to representatives of the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service.

6:15 p.m.

The mayor proclaimed today as Deb Barton Day with a presentation to Deb Barton, a local bicyclist who won four gold medals at the recent Senior National Games in Cleveland, Ohio.

6:22 p.m.

The council watched a short video about Union Pacific’s $10,000 contribution earlier this week as a sponsor of the city’s 75th anniversary celebration. Committee chair Linda Harvell updated the council about preparations for the celebration, which begins in October.

7:00 p.m.

TxDOT Thoroughfare Transfer

The council was updated on the Texas Department of Transportation’s recent proposal to transfer to cities the right-of-way and maintenance of state-owned thoroughfares that function as streets. The program would consist of voluntary transfers from the state to the city, with possible one-time maintenance funds available from the state.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

7:10 p.m.

After the council discussed its calendar, future agenda items and committee reports, the workshop was adjourned. The regular meeting will start momentarily.
7:21 p.m.

The regular meeting has started. Councilmember Julie Shultz is absent tonight. Troop 1074 Boy Scout Matthew Van Zandt, who is a seventh-grader at College Station Middle School, led the Pledge of Allegiance.

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7:24 p.m.

Hear Visitors

William Pittman, vice president for community relations for Texas A&M’s Student Government Association, was the only speaker during Hear Visitors, when citizens may address the council on any item that doesn’t  appear on the posted agenda. Pittman spoke on his positive interactions with council and anticipates such relations continuing.

7:26 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council unanimously approved these consent items:

  • Established two-hour parking on Church Avenue near its intersection with University Drive.
  • Premiums of $408,039.66 for the city’s excess liability and workers’ compensation insurance, property/boiler and machinery, commercial crime, EMT liability and auto property damage policies for Fiscal Year 2014.
  • The addition of a controlled three-way stop at the new intersection of eastbound Church Avenue, northbound Church Avenue, and the southbound public way exiting the Stack property.
  • The first renewal of a $57,931 contract with JNA Painting and Contracting for interior and exterior painting of city buildings.
  • Amended the Resolution Determining Need and Necessity for the Barron Road East Extension Project.
  • $143,531.20 for the purchase of Microsoft Office 2013 software licenses from SRI Government Solutions to upgrade the city’s suite of applications.
  • An amendment to an interlocal agreement with the College Station Independent School District to transition Kids Klub operations from the city to the school district.

These items were voted on separately:

  • By a 5-1 vote, the council approved a contract granting about $1.45 million in federal funds to the Brazos Valley Community Action Agency to acquire and rehabilitate 10 dwelling units to be used as affordable rental housing for income-eligible households. Councilmember Jess Fields voted against the motion.
  • By a 5-0 vote, the council approved the first renewal of $142,534 with Professional Floor Service & Janitorial for the janitorial maintenance of city buildings. Councilmember Fields abstained.

9:34 p.m.

Street Network and Block Lengths

After a public hearing, the council voted 4-2 to amend street network and block length requirements in the city’s Unified Development Ordinance. Councilmembers John Nichols and Fields voted against the motion. City staff has had discussions and feedback from the Home Builder’s Association regarding block and cul-de-sac length requirements. And earlier motion to amend the proposal was defeated, 5-1, with Councilmember Fields voting for.

The revision changes the General Suburban block length requirement from 900 feet to 1,200 feet. Single family uses will have a 1,200-foot (General Suburban and Restricted Suburban) or 1,500-foot (Estate, Rural, and ETJ) requirement.

In addition, the maximum cul-de-sac length in residential designations changes from half the block length to equal the block length. Coupled with the block length change, the maximum cul-de-sac length in General Suburban would increase from 450 feet to 1,200 feet, in Restricted Suburban from 600 feet to 1,200 feet, and in Estate and Rural from 750 feet to 1,500 feet.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

9:37 p.m.

Right-of-Way Abandonment

After a public hearing, the council voted 5-0 to approve the abandonment of a 0.009-acre portion of right-of-way and a 0.008-acre portion of right-of-way at 401 Louise Ave. to allow for a multi-family development. Councilmember Fields was not present.

10:06 p.m.

Economic Development Master Plan

The council voted 5-1 to adopt the Economic Development Master Plan, which was developed over the last year in collaboration with local business leaders, a consultant team and regional economic development partners. Councilmember Fields voted against the motion. The plan defines the goals and objectives of the city’s economic development efforts and lays out strategies and detailed actions.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

10:30 p.m.

One- & Two-Family Residential Districts

The council voted 5-1 to approve the creation and amendment of one- and two-family residential zoning districts in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan. Councilmember Fields voted against the motion. These districts are similar to the city’s existing set of zoning districts with some additional performance standards.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

10:52 p.m.

Single-Family Parking Requirements

The council voted 5-1 to approve revisions to single-family parking requirements in city neighborhoods, including increasing the standard to one parking space for each bedroom, with a maximum of four spaces. Councilmember Fields voted against the motion. High renter occupancy in some of the city’s older neighborhood’s, which were designed with narrow streets, have increased on-street parking and created emergency access concerns.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

11:35 p.m.

Adoption of FY14 Budget

The council voted 5-1 to approve the city’s $255.4 million FY14 budget. Councilmember Fields voted against the motion. The budget includes no increases in electric, water, wastewater, drainage or residential sanitation rates.  A motion to continue funding the Chamber of Commerce through the general fund failed by a 3-3 vote. A second motion to fund the Chamber with hotel tax funds was approved, 4-2, with Councilmembers Nichols and Fields voting against.

The council also voted 5-1 to ratify the increase in property tax revenue in the budget resulting from new properties being added to the tax rolls. Councilmember Fields voted against the motion.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

11:43 p.m.

Adoption of Property Tax Rate

The council unanimously approved the effective property tax rate of .425958 per $100 of valuation, the city’s lowest rate since 1993. The tax rate is expected to generate about $26.4 million, which will fund the city’s general debt service and part of the operations and maintenance costs in the general fund.

11:46 p.m.

Commercial Sanitation Rate Increase

The council voted 5-1 to approve a 15 percent increase in commercial sanitation rates to cover operating costs, including the increased costs of fuel. Councilmember Fields voted against the motion. The last time commercial rates were increased was in 2006.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation received by the council:

11:46 p.m.

The regular meeting was adjourned. The council meets again Sept. 26.

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