Planning & Development

City waives winter storm repair permit fees

By Michael Ostrowski, Director of Planning and Development Services

The City of College Station’s Planning and Development Services is waiving required permit fees for residential or commercial repairs related to this week’s winter storm. 

To receive the waiver when applying through the city’s online permitting system (eTRAKIT), select “2021 Winter Storm Repair” as the permit type, then the appropriate subtype for the repair.  

The permit fee waiver will be in effect for permit applications through March 7.  Work not related to storm damage does not qualify. Homeowners and contractors should apply for the appropriate permit type for that work through eTRAKiT.

The city requires contractors to register before obtaining a permit. When registering, contractors must provide:

  • Copy of state license.
  • Certificate of insurance.
  • Registration fee.
  • Completed contractor registration form. 

A homeowner may obtain a building permit for work on a building they own and occupy as a homestead. However, licensed contractors must obtain electrical, plumbing, and mechanical permits. 

Permits are required for:

  • Building a new structure or altering or repairing an existing structure, including replacing roof coverings and windows. Exceptions include cosmetic repairs, including wall coverings that don’t alter structural components.
  • Installing, altering, or repairing a plumbing system. Exceptions include unstopping a drain line, provided that a trap, drain, waste, or vent pipe isn’t removed and replaced with new material. A plumbing permit is also required to install, alter, enlarge, or repair a gas piping system.
  • Installing electrical wiring, devices, appliances, fixtures, and electrical equipment, except for replacing fuses, snap switches, and signal-conveying systems.
  • Installing, altering, repairing, or replacing a mechanical system. Exceptions include installing portable heating devices and cooling units, and the replacement of any minor part that doesn’t alter the approval of equipment or make it unsafe.

For more information about the permitting and registration process, contact Planning and Development Services’ Building Division at cspds@cstx.gov or 979-764-3570.

 


About the Blogger

Michael Ostrowski is in his first year as director of Planning and Development Services. He previously served as assistant planning and development director in San Marcos after many years with municipalities in Wisconsin. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics, political science and public administration from Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and master’s degrees in public administration and urban planning from Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


 

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City seeks public input on proposed ROO ordinance

UPDATE (2/15): Tuesday night’s meeting (Feb. 16) has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

By Alyssa Halle-Schramm, Long Range Planning Administrator

The City of College Station is conducting a series of virtual meetings and an online poll throughout February to collect public input on a proposed Restricted Occupancy Overlay (ROO) ordinance. 

The proposed overlay wouldn’t create additional home occupancy restrictions city-wide. It would allow property owners in single-family subdivisions to ask the city council for an overlay zoning to restrict occupancy to no more than two unrelated people within their subdivision boundaries.

The meeting content will be identical, but each session focuses on specific audiences, including the real estate, investor, and development community (Feb. 8), neighborhood groups and associations (Feb. 16), and students (Feb. 22). The three-prong public input approach allows for meaningful discussion among each group and for city staff to tailor the presentation and language to each audience’s familiarity with development terms and knowledge of zoning and city processes.

You may access as many of the meetings as you like. Each session provides an overview of the proposed ordinance and asks the public to consider three questions:

  1. Are you supportive or opposed to the creation of a ROO? 
  2. What would be the appropriate percentage of property owners needed to support the proposal and sign the petition? 
  3. What is an appropriate legacy clause (often called grandfathering) to address properties with more than two unrelated persons living in a house at the time of a ROO’s adoption?

Virtual Meeting Schedule (registration not required)

  • Mon., Feb. 8, 6 p.m. — Zoom
  • Tue., Feb. 16, 6 p.m. (rescheduled for Tue., Feb. 23)Zoom
  • Mon., Feb. 22, 6 p.m. — Zoom

The online poll goes live Monday evening (Feb. 8) and closes Feb. 26. The public input collected from each meeting and the poll will be consolidated and presented to the city council in March.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact me at aschramm@cstx.gov or 979-764-3570.

 


About the Blogger

Long Range Planning Administrator Alyssa Halle-Schramm has been with the city since 2018. She previously worked at Austin Community College, UT-Austin, and Hanover County (Virginia). A native of Wilmington, N.C., Alyssa earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from North Carolina-Wilmington in 2010 and master’s degrees in public administration and urban and regional planning from Virginia Tech in 2013.


 

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CS recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community

By Venessa Garza, Planning Administrator

College Station residents are biking more than ever, not only for recreation but for commuting to their jobs and running errands. That’s why we’re especially proud to be among the nearly 500 communities in the United States recently designated as Bicycle Friendly Communities by the League of American Bicyclists.

The city and local advocates have long been devoted to making our community more accessible and improving bicycling conditions through our policies, infrastructure, and programs. The bronze BFC award recognizes that commitment.

College Station has more than 30 miles of shared-use paths and 53 miles of bike lanes, and more are proposed in the Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Greenways Master Plan. We continue to evaluate and improve designs to increase safety and comfort for all users.

The award must be renewed every four years through a rigorous application process and provides a benchmark to evaluate conditions and identify improvement areas. Thanks to all who helped in the application process, along with those who completed an online survey.

As a Bicycle Friendly Community, we’re a leader in the movement to make our cities healthier, sustainable, and connected.

Learn more at cstx.gov/bikepedgreenways.

 


About the Blogger

Bicycle, Pedestrian and Greenways Planning Administrator Venessa Garza has been with the city for 13 years. She previously served seven years with the Parks & Recreation Department at the City of Raleigh (N.C.). She earned her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M and her master’s from North Carolina State.


 

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8 steps you can take to weather the storm

By Debbie Stickles, Graduate Engineer, Planning & Development Services

With heavy rains from Hurricane Laura possible in our area, it’s an excellent time to review necessary safety precautions and take appropriate actions to protect your family and property.

  1. Determine your risk at noaa.gov or consult local media for updated storm information, including trajectory forecasts. It’s also a good idea to sign up to receive emergency notifications from Brazos County.
  2. Households may have different storm preparation needs. Essential supplies to gather include first aid kits, flashlights with extra batteries, non-perishable foods such as protein bars and canned goods, and a three-day water supply. For more information, go to ready.gov.
  3. Move your garbage and recycling containers to a safe area where storms won’t blow them away or knock them down.
  4. Be water smart, and turn off your landscape irrigation system. Irrigation systems are intended to supplement the rain and can cause problems if they operate during a storm.
  5. If you live near a creek or other water bodies, secure your outdoor furniture to prevent it from entering the storm drains and seek shelter elsewhere.
  6. Move brush piles to higher ground to keep vegetative waste from blocking stormwater drainage paths and creeks.
  7. Report public safety issues such as downed electrical lines and flooded or blocked roadways to the College Station Police Department’s non-emergency number at 979-764-3600.
  8. If you approach a flooded roadway or intersection, don’t attempt to drive through the water. Turn around, don’t drown.

College Station is no stranger to the effects of hurricanes and tropical storms. If you take a little time to prepare, you can successfully weather the storm once again.

 


About the Blogger

Debbie Stickles is starting her sixth year as one of the city’s graduate engineers. She previously worked as an engineering specialist in the Railroad Commission of Texas’ Oil & Gas Division from 2014-15. A native of Carrizo Springs, Debbie received a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from Texas A&M-Kingsville in 2013.


 

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We need your input about College Station’s future

By Alyssa Halle-Schramm, Long Range Planning Administrator

As part of the City of College Station’s 10-year review of its Comprehensive Plan, we’ve created a virtual workshop to gather your input on our community’s future. The online Community Choices Workshop will be live from July 13 through Aug. 3.

A series of activities will help you make choices about how and where the city grows. To participate, go to cstx.gov/TheNext10 starting Monday. You can also join an email list to stay up-to-date with project news. 

The Next 10

The Next 10 is an extensive effort to evaluate the city’s Comprehensive Plan, consider recent growth and best practices, and identify city policies that need updating. The Comprehensive Plan is the strategic guide that expresses the community’s values and aspirations. It establishes a long-range vision for development, housing, transportation, parks, the environment, economic development, and other related topics.

College Station’s plan was adopted in 2009 and covers a 20-year horizon. It’s meant to be a living document that’s regularly evaluated and updated. Since we are 10 years into the plan, we need your input about how the next decade should unfold.

Last summer, the initiative began with the establishment of the Evaluation Committee and meeting with community leaders. We also conducted a series of public workshops and an online survey to get input about the existing plan. You can review that feedback at cstx.gov/TheNext10.

These efforts will result in an Evaluation and Appraisal Report — anticipated this fall — that recommends changes to the Comprehensive Plan. Once the city council accepts the report, we’ll begin drafting update amendments, which will be made available for public feedback and will go through the public hearing process at planning & zoning commission and city council meetings. Formal updates are expected to be made in 2021.

How to Participate

By living, working, attending school, or raising a family in College Station, you know our community. We encourage you to share your ideas and opinions to ensure College Station’s direction represents the community’s authentic voice. The input you provide will be an essential component of the Evaluation and Appraisal Report.

In one Community Choices Workshop activity, you’ll be asked about potential improvements to the Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Map, which serves as a guide for how areas of the city may develop. Several updates are being considered, including renaming, simplifying, and refining the Future Land Use category definitions and changes to how land uses apply to various areas. You’ll be asked to react to examples of potential changes.

In another activity, you’ll be able to share your preferences on scenarios that illustrate potential options for six areas. The scenario planning activity uses performance-based criteria to depict trade-offs among possible outcomes. Please note that the alternatives are hypothetical scenarios meant to test options and solicit feedback.

You’ll be asked to choose one of three options — how the area is developed today, an anticipated outcome under existing policies, or what may be possible with policy changes. You can provide open-ended feedback about your likes and dislikes, and anything else you’d like us to know.

The future can unfold in many ways. Your participation in the virtual Community Choices Workshop will help us more accurately gauge the community’s preferences.

For more information, visit cstx.gov/TheNext10 and watch the videos. You can also contact me at 979-764-3570 or aschramm@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Long Range Planning Administrator Alyssa Halle-Schramm has been with the city since 2018. She previously worked at Austin Community College, UT-Austin, and Hanover County (Virginia). A native of Wilmington, N.C., Alyssa earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from North Carolina-Wilmington in 2010 and master’s degrees in public administration and urban and regional planning from Virginia Tech in 2013.


 

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3 steps to make sure you’re ready for a flash flood

By David Vaughn, Engineering Program Specialist

Did you know flash flooding is the No. 1 cause of weather-related damage in Texas? Sadly, our great state often leads the nation in flood-related deaths.

As part of Texas Flood Awareness Week, the City of College Station reminds residents to be prepared.  Heavy rain and coastal storms can overburden our drainage systems and structures and lead to flood events. Knowing what to do before, during, and after significant storms can prevent or limit property damage, injuries, and loss of life. 

Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. They can develop slowly or happen with little or no warning. In either case, staying informed and anticipating such events is essential. 

If you live in a flood-prone or low-lying area, preparing for such emergencies is even more crucial. Here are three steps you can take today to make sure you’re ready:

1. Stay Informed

  • Know your flood risk. Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center online or call the Planning and Development Services Department (979-764-3570) and ask for a review engineer to learn more about your property. 
  • Learn and rehearse evacuation routes, shelter plans, and flash-flood response.
  • Monitor weather forecasts and be aware of signs of potential flooding, such as heavy rain.

2. Take Action

  • Purchase flood insurance if necessary. It usually takes 30 days for a new insurance policy to go into effect, so it’s important to buy well before a disaster occurs.
  • Make a photographic inventory of your valuables for insurance purposes.
  • Keep valuable documents in a waterproof container and make digital copies when possible.

3. Gather Supplies 

  • Have a potable water supply that will last at least three days. You need one gallon of water per day for each person or pet in your household.
  • Have enough non-perishable, ready-to-eat food to last at least three days. Examples include canned meat and beans, nuts, nut butters and spreads, dry cereals and granola, and protein bars.
  • Keep structural supplies on hand such as sandbags, plywood or lumber, and plastic sheeting.
  • Make sure your flashlights and lanterns have good batteries. 
  • Always have a well-stocked first-aid kit.

If you’re adequately prepared, you enhance your chances of staying safe and protecting your property. That’s what Texas Flood Awareness Week is all about.

 


About the Blogger

David Vaughn recently joined Planning and Development Services as an engineering program specialist. He previously worked as an environmental coordinator for FedEx Express from 2015-20. A native of Silsbee, David earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from Sam Houston State in 2016.


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