Planning & Development

Completing the census remains an essential civic duty

By Jade Broadnax, Staff Planner

A constructive and valuable way to serve our community during these uncertain times is to complete the 2020 U.S. Census — and remind others to do the same.

Lawmakers, business owners, and many others will use census data to make critical decisions in the next decade. The population count will show where our community needs improvements for schools, clinics, roads, and more services for families, older adults, and children.

The census has never been easier to complete, even for historically hard-to-count populations. You can help by not only participating yourself, but by encouraging your family, friends, and neighbors to take part, too.

Reply Sooner, Not Later

If your household is like most, you have received a mailed invitation that includes a code to complete the census online. But even if you haven’t received the request, you can still complete the form online, by phone, or by mail.

The deadline for you to complete the census online has been extended to August 14. Census takers will begin visiting those who have not taken the census to gather the information. If you complete the form now, you can help reduce the number of census takers going door-to-door, which is essential during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We encourage you to help ensure the disabled or elderly you know have the tools to complete their census. A complete count helps identify services that can directly benefit them. Give your neighbors a phone call, shoot them a text, or ask (from a safe distance) if they’d like help checking the mail for their census invitation.

Your Information is Protected

The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. The Census Bureau cannot release identifiable information about you, your home, or your business — even to law enforcement agencies — and includes no citizenship question. Every census employee also takes an oath to protect your personal information for life.

The law ensures your private data is protected, and that your answers can’t be used against you by courts or government agencies. Violating that law is a federal crime punishable by prison time and a fine of up to $250,000.

Students: Follow the 3 C’s

With the recent closures of Texas A&M and Blinn College, we expect students to leave their off-campus housing and go “home” to another city. Under the Census Bureau’s residence criteria, in most cases, students living away from “home” at school should be counted at school, even if they are temporarily elsewhere due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’re a college student, follow the 3 C’s:

  1. COMPLETE the Census: If you live in College Station most of the time while attending school, you should complete the census according to your physical address here. Even if you are on an extended spring break in Colorado or went “home” to Houston and don’t have access to your mailed census invitation, you can complete the census online, by phone, or by mail.
  2. COORDINATE with roommates: If you live with roommates in College Station, coordinate with them to ensure that one roommate completes the census for everyone at that address. 
  3. COMMUNICATE with families: Talk with your family to ensure you are counted at the address where you live most of the time. Your family has the option to include you in their census count but should answer “Yes, for college” when asked, “Does this person usually live or stay somewhere else?”

It only takes a few short minutes to complete the census, so why are you waiting?

For more information, go to 2020census.gov. The site also includes updated timelines due to COVID-19.

 


About the Blogger

Jade Broadnax is in her third year as a staff planner and project manager. A native of Chicago and Houston, Jade earned a bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning and Development from Ball State in 2017.


 

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Proposed amendment addresses impervious cover

By Anthony Armstrong, Engineering Services & Construction Inspections Manager

Driveways, parking, and accessory areas are a necessary part of any residential development. Unfortunately, if they cover too much ground, these water-limiting – or impervious – surfaces can often wreak havoc through flooding and erosion.

Impervious surfaces are any materials or construction that limit the absorption of water by covering the natural land surface. Materials used for landscaping in non-loadbearing areas aren’t considered impervious surfaces.

In College Station, the problem has emerged as the city has grown, especially in the redevelopment of lots in older neighborhoods that lack modern drainage and retention capabilities. Existing city regulations don’t limit impervious surfaces, which means residential lots can be completely or mostly covered.

A proposed amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance would provide a maximum percentage of a lot that may have an impervious cover. The percentages vary and would be implemented and assessed based on the zoning district, or a detailed engineered design.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will consider the amendment at its next meeting on Thursday, Feb. 20, followed by city council action on March 9. Both meetings will include a public hearing.

Newer neighborhoods with detention assume a certain amount of impervious surfacing when designed. The proposed amendment would allow them to abide by those assumptions.

The regulations would apply only to residential zoning districts and would not include multi-family and mixed-use zoning designations. Those zoning districts and commercial/non-residential districts would still require a detailed drainage analysis of individual lots as part of the permitting process.

Here are the proposed redline changes in the UDO:

 


About the Blogger

Anthony Armstrong PE has been with the city since 2016 and is in his first year as Engineering Services & Construction Inspections Manager. A native of Bulverde, Anthony served as an engineer with CME Testing and Engineering after earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M in 2015.


 

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Survey another way to express views on city’s future

By Justin Golbabai, Long-Range Planning Administrator

In late September, the City of College Station conducted a series of four public workshops as part of the 10-year update to the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Since the topic was about College Station’s development road map for the next decade, we expected a strong turnout.

We asked for enthusiastic public input, and that’s what we got.

More than 200 residents participated in the workshops, providing essential insights on our present and future growth patterns. The gatherings also generated vital feedback on how residents think the city should develop.

We offer our sincere gratitude to all who attended the workshops, but if you weren’t able to attend, don’t worry.

An online survey — in English and Spanish — is open through Oct. 16. If you missed the workshops, the survey is a meaningful way to contribute your input about our community’s present and future growth patterns.

The workshops and the survey play a crucial role in the city’s evaluation and reassessment of its 2009-30 Comprehensive Plan, our policy roadmap to plan, anticipate, and guide growth and development over 20 years. The Next 10 process is considering current conditions, recent trends, and best practices, and is involving the community in shaping our growth and development.

Your valued input will lead to changes and updates to the Comprehensive Plan and Unified Development Ordinance, the policies and regulations that affect new development. We hope to have the evaluation process completed by late next summer.

For more information and to sign-up for email updates, go to cstx.gov/TheNext10.

 


About the Blogger

Long-Range Planning Administrator Justin Golbabai, AICP CNU-A has been with the City of College Station since 2016. He previously served the City of Austin for nine years in various capacities, most recently as Neighborhood Partnering Program manager. Justin has also worked for the cities of Savannah (Ga.) and Overland Park (Kan.). A native of Windsor, Conn., he received a master’s in public administration from the University of Kansas in 2006, and a bachelor’s in economics and sociology from The University of Notre Dame in 2004.


 

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Help plan College Station’s Next 10 at workshops

By Justin Golbabai, Long Range Planning Administrator

Planning for the growth and development of a city is similar to planning for any journey – it begins with knowing the starting point and the final destination. Based on those points, you can make appropriate plans and preparations and then set out knowing that adjustments will be necessary along the way.

The 2009-2030 Comprehensive Plan is the city’s policy roadmap to plan, anticipate, and guide growth and development over 20 years. It’s been 10 years since the plan’s adoption, and it’s time to reassess and discuss where the city should go in the next decade. We’re calling this process The Next 10.

Focus on the Future Workshops

Community input is an essential part of The Next 10. Next week, we will conduct a series of four identical workshops at locations across College Station to gather your input on the city’s present and future growth patterns. We encourage you to attend the most convenient session.

The 90-minute meetings will consider the conditions and trends facing our community and feature small groups to generate insight about your desired outcomes. Whether you are living, working, attending school, or raising a family in College Station, your perspective is vital to the plan’s success.

Here’s the meeting schedule:

Monday, Sept. 23

>> 7-8:30 p.m., Southwood Valley Elementary Cafeteria (2700 Brothers Blvd.)

Tuesday, Sept. 24

>> 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., CSU Meeting & Training Facility (1601 Graham Road)

>> 7-8:30 p.m., Forest Ridge Elementary Cafeteria (1950 Greens Prairie Road)

Wednesday, Sept 25

>> 7-8:30 p.m., Oakwood Intermediate School Cafeteria (106 Holik St.)

If you plan to attend, RSVP on the workshop Facebook page.

College Station is committed to updating its policies to address the issues of today and prepare for those that may arise in the future. By participating in the process, you can help evaluate the city’s direction in light of current trends and community values and to proactively address topics that are important to you.

You don’t have to be an expert, either. You only have to care about your community.

We’ll start analyzing the data we’ve gathered in December and start laying out the plan in the spring. We hope to present a final draft to the city council next summer.

For more information and to sign-up for email updates, visit cstx.gov/TheNext10.

 


About the Blogger

Long Range Planning Administrator Justin Golbabai, AICP CNU-A has been with the City of College Station since 2016. He previously served the City of Austin for nine years in various capacities, most recently as Neighborhood Partnering Program manager. Justin has also worked for the cities of Savannah (Ga.) and Overland Park (Kan.). A native of Windsor, Conn., he received a master’s in public administration from the University of Kansas in 2006, and a bachelor’s in economics and sociology from The University of Notre Dame in 2004.


 

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Let’s work together to resolve neighborhood integrity issues

By Justin Golbabai, Planning Administrator

College Station’s brisk population growth has had plenty of positive effects, including new economic opportunities and an expanded tax base. But that growth has also come with challenges, creating a strain among developers responding to the real estate market and residents who want to maintain the quality of life in their neighborhoods.

In many conflicts — at least in the popular culture — you have clearly defined good guys and bad guys. That’s not the case here, where developers and neighborhoods generally have honorable intentions. The challenge is the find an appropriate balance between healthy growth and preserving the integrity of neighborhoods.

That’s the driving force behind the City of College Station exploring possible revisions to its Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) in response to neighborhood integrity concerns. The catalyst for positive, productive changes is a gathering of stakeholders from the development community, neighborhood associations, and the general public.

On Monday, the city’s Planning and Development Services Department will conduct two come-and-go community meetings at city hall. The first will be from noon-1:30 p.m., and the second — covering the same topics — will be from 5-6:30 p.m. The meetings provide an optimal setting for you to contribute to the development processes in our community.

Another vital component is an online survey that will be active through May 14. The survey covers the same information as the meetings and presents an additional way to gather public feedback. You can complete the survey starting Monday at cstx.gov/DevServices.

The meetings and the survey will focus on these concepts:

  • Allowing accessory living quarters — also known as garage apartments or granny flats — to be rented similar to other housing units.
  • Requiring single-family houses to provide one parking space per bedroom, no longer capping it at four spaces.
  • Altering how single-family height and distance protections are applied to non-residential properties.
  • Allowing increased flexibility for neighborhoods seeking to create Neighborhood Conservation Overlays.
  • Creating a new Middle Housing zoning district that allows for a variety of housing types such as triplexes, fourplexes, and live-work units that are between the existing single-family and multi-family zoning categories.

For more information or to supply feedback on these concepts, contact me at 979-764-3826 or jgolbabai@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Planning Administrator Justin Golbabai, AICP CNU-A has been with the City of College Station since 2016. He previously served the City of Austin for nine years in various capacities, most recently as Neighborhood Partnering Program manager. Justin has also worked for the cities of Savannah (Ga.) and Overland Park (Kan.). A native of Windsor, Conn., he received a master’s in public administration from the University of Kansas in 2006, and a bachelor’s in economics and sociology from The University of Notre Dame in 2004.


 

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Beware opportunists taking advantage of hail damage

By Brian Binford, Planning & Development Services Building Official

Weather-rated calamities seem to bring out the best in most folks. We saw that up close when Hurricane Harvey devastated the Texas coast last summer.

Unfortunately, these situations can bring out the worst in a few people, too.

While Sunday’s hailstorm certainly wasn’t a large-scale disaster, it did enough damage to set opportunists and scammers in motion. An elderly College Station resident received a suspicious call this morning from a roofing company that offered to evaluate her home for damage.

If you get such a call, check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure the company is legitimate and has a good reputation.

Roofing contractors must be registered with the City of College Station and are required to obtain a building permit to roof or replace shingles and decking on residences. Homeowners who do the work themselves don’t need to register as a contractor, but they must apply for a permit before construction.

To obtain a permit, click here or contact Planning & Development Services at 979-764-3570.

 


About the Blogger

Brian Binford is a certified building official and has been with the City of College Station since 2008. He’s a graduate of Sam Houston State.


 

Photo Copyright: studiodin/123RF Stock Photo

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