Public Communications

Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (June 14)

(L-R): Bob Brick, Linda Harvell, Jerome Rektorik, Karl Mooney (mayor), John Nichols, Barry Moore, James Benham.

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, June 14. It’s not the official minutes.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink channel 19 or online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

5:05 p.m.

The workshop has started. No action was taken out of executive session. Councilman James Benham is participating via teleconference.

5:19 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

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

  • A&M Consolidated School Zone: The extension school zone time to 4:15 p.m. around A&M Consolidated High School on Nueces Drive, Welsh Avenue and FM 2818.
  • Stop Signs: The addition of stop signs at various intersections.
  • Wire & Cable: A $712,700 bid award to Techline for the purchase of wire and cable to be maintained in inventory.
  • Tree Trimming Services: A $1.5 million, three-year contract with All Around Tree Service for electric right-of-way tree trimming services.
  • Solid Waste Collection Fees: The first increase in fees for residential solid waste collection services since 2006. The last commercial rate increase was in 2014. Click here to see the proposed rates.
  • Economic Development Incentives: The resolution would re-adopt the city’s guidelines regarding property tax abatement as required by state law.

6:11 p.m.

Homestead Tax Exemption

The council directed staff to bring back an ordinance creating a five percent Homestead Property Tax Exemption. Homestead exemptions remove part of a home’s value from taxation, such as the first $25,000 or $50,000 of assessed value. The ordinance will be considered at the June 28 council meeting.

To offset the estimated revenue loss of $664,000, the council will consider a 3/4-cent tax increase as part of the FY19 budget process later this summer.

Here are the PowerPoint presentations:

6:36 p.m.

ETJ, Annexation Agreements

The consensus of the council was to extend the city’s Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) from 3 1/2 miles to five miles. The ordinance will come back for a vote at a future meeting. Council also opted to offer new 10-year annexation agreements to several property owners in the ETJ.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

6:37 p.m.

Mayor Mooney adjourned the workshop after the council discussed its calendar and received committee reports. The regular meeting will start after a short break.

6:47 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

6:59 p.m.

Hear Visitors

Two people spoke during Hear Visitors when citizens may address the council on any item that doesn’t appear on the posted agenda.

  • Robert Rose gave a short presentation on the Austin Veloway and suggested College Station pursue a similar amenity for its citizens.
  • Stacy Watt also spoke in support of a local veloway.

7:02 p.m.

Mayor Mooney proclaimed Girl Scout Gold Award Day in College Station and recognized local girl scout Ashley Poprik for creating a winning documentary entitled Camp for All. Ashley recently graduated from A&M Consolidated High School and plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin.

7;03 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve the entire consent agenda:

  • The extension school zone times to 4:15 p.m. around A&M Consolidated High School on Nueces Drive, Welsh Avenue and FM 2818.
  • The addition of stop signs at various intersections.
  • A $712,700 annual bid award to Techline for the purchase of wire and cable to be maintained in electrical inventory.
  • A three-year, $1.5 million contract with All Around Tree Service for electric right-of-way tree trimming services.
  • A $364,759.40 contract with Palomares Construction for sidewalk improvements along Southwest Parkway between Wellborn Road and Welsh Avenue.
  • An inter-local agreement with the City of Cedar Hill for cooperative purchasing.
  • A $409,825.90 contract with Binkley & Barfield for engineering services related to the design of the Greens Prairie Trail Widening Project.
  • The first increase in fees for residential solid waste collection services since 2006. The last commercial rate increase was in 2014.
  • Established fees, rates and charges for commercial and residential burn permits.
  • A $93,272.19 change order to a contract with Acklam Construction and a time extension of 45 days for changes at the Larry J. Ringer Library.
  • A $1.34 million contract with Forbes Bros.Timberline Construction to replace 12 transmission poles and hardware and 5.62 miles of steel shield wire on the transmission line with optical ground wire fiber optic conductor.
  • A $425,203 contract for the purchase of right-of-way for the Capstone/Barron Road Realignment Project.
  • A resolution to re-adopt the city’s guidelines and criteria governing property tax abatement.
  • Ratification of the city manager’s authority to designate Experience Bryan-College Station as the local organizing committee to coordinate the funding application for the 2018 American Quarter Horse Association Youth World Cup and approval of the event support contract.

7:11 p.m.

Rezoning on Lakeway Drive

After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved a request to change the zoning from Rural to Planned Development District for about seven acres along the south side of Lakeway Drive near the Medical Avenue intersection. The change will allow a senior housing development.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:23 p.m.

Non-Residential Landscaping and Buffer Requirements

After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved an amendment to the city’s Unified Development Ordinance regarding landscaping requirements and buffer standards.

Here’s a summary of the changes:

  • Encouraging drought tolerant irrigation by increasing the point credit from 10 percent to 20 percent for water-conserving irrigation systems.
  • Providing an extra 50 percent increase in landscaping points for Texas native plants.
  • Incentivizing the retention of older or larger trees by doubling the point values for each protected tree.
  • Creating administrative flexibility to waive buffer requirements adjacent to residential common area and exempting buffers adjacent to FEMA 100-year floodplain.
  • Removing the double landscape point requirements for building plots over 10 acres.
  • Removing the heightened 2.5-inch caliper tree requirement for building plots over 15 acres and allowing these sites to meet the 2-inch caliper tree requirement of other sites.
  • Providing water conserving landscaping options such as xeriscaping in lieu of sod.
  • Requiring buffer by developed or proposed use instead of by zoning district.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:14 p.m.

Caprock 31 Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved a request to change the zoning from Rural and General Commercial to Planned Development District for about 31 acres southwest of the Arrington Road-Greens Prairie Road intersection.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:23 p.m.

Rock Prairie Road Improvements

The council unanimously approved an interlocal agreement with Brazos County for improvements to Rock Prairie Road from Holleman Drive to Wellborn Road. The proposed cross-section of the roadway is two travel lanes, a continuous two-way left turn lane, bike lanes, and sidewalks.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:35 p.m.

Experience B-CS Appointment

The council unanimously appointed Karen Bonarrigo to fill the last two years of Paul Bonarrigo’s term on the Experience Bryan-College Station board. Mr. Bonarrigo is stepping down due to competing responsibilities.

8:35 p.m.

After the council discussed and reviewed future agenda items, Mayor Mooney adjourned the meeting. The council meets again on Thursday, June 28.

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian) has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


 

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College Station’s new water rates take effect July 1

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

College Station Utilities hasn’t increased water rates since 2010 thanks to improved conservation efforts by our customers and the implementation of impact fees on new development.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.

Last fall, the College Station City Council unanimously approved a six percent increase in water rates as part of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget. The council deferred the increase until the fourth quarter, which begins July 1.

College Station has grown more than 25 percent since that last rate increase. That means we need additional water wells to keep up with demand, along with another water tower on the east side of Highway 6. Without one-time impact fees, we’d need a 15 percent rate increase to pay for those necessities.

Water Usage Rates

Here’s a comparative breakdown of the old and new water rates:

Customer Class Usage Per 1,000g before July 1

Per 1,000g after July 1

Residential 10,000 gallons or less $2.26 $2.40
11,000 – 15,000 gallons $2.94 $3.12
16,000 – 20,000 gallons $3.61 $3.83
21,000 – 25,000 gallons $4.28 $4.54
26,000 gallons or more $4.96 $5.26
Commercial Indoor usage $2.49 $2.64
Commercial Outdoor usage (irrigation) $2.68 $2.84

You’ll be charged $2.40 per 1,000 gallons for the first 10,000, $3.12 for the next 5,000, and up the tiers as usage increases.

Your Monthly Bill

More than half of our residential water customers use 10,000 gallons of water or less each month, but some are consistently in the 26,000 gallons-and-up rate block. If you’re a 10,000-gallon user, you’ve paid about $32.79 a month for your water since 2010, which includes a $ 10.19 meter charge. If the existing rates had been indexed annually to inflation, you’d be paying $36.19 today, or $3.40 more. Under the new rate – which includes a $10.80 meter charge – you’ll pay $34.80.

That comes out to about 35 cents for 100 gallons of clean, pure water that’s rated as superior by state regulators. The chart below includes the monthly residential meter charge, which varies by meter size.

Usage Bill before July 1 Bill after July 1 Increase
10,000 gallons $32.79 $34.80 $2.01
15,000 gallons $47.49 $50.40 $2.91
30,000 gallons $111.74 $118.55 $6.81
50,000 gallons $210.94 $223.75 $12.81

Keep Your Costs Down

The City of College Station offers proactive programs to help customers reduce water waste and trim their bills, including free landscape irrigation checkups, direct outreach to the highest water users, rebates on water-saving products, and weekly watering recommendations from Brazos Valley WaterSmart.

Efficient water use is the least expensive way to make our supplies more sustainable, and it keeps your rates lower over time. Your water bill payment is an investment in our water future, ensuring that we can continue to provide you – and generations to come – with high-quality water.

For more information about water rates or conservation, go to cstx.gov/water or call us at 979-764–3660.


About the Blogger

Jennifer Nations has been the City of College Station’s water resource coordinator since 1999 after two years as BVSWMA’s environmental compliance officer. She’s also chair of the Water Conservation and Reuse Division for the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association. A native of Fremont, Calif., Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental & resource science from UC-Davis in 1995 and a master’s degree in water management & hydrologic science from Texas A&M in 2016.


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5 things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (5 p.m.) and regular (6 p.m.) meetings.

Here are five items to watch:

  1. Homestead Tax Exemption: The council will have a workshop discussion about creating a Homestead Property Tax Exemption and the impact it would have on the city and its taxpayers. Homestead exemptions remove part of a home’s value from taxation, such as the first $25,000 or $50,000 of assessed value.
  2. Extraterritorial Jurisdiction: The council will have a workshop discussion about possibly extending the city’s Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) to five miles.
  3. Solid Waste Collection Rates: As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider increasing the fees for solid waste collection services. The last residential rate increase was in 2010.
  4. Caprock 31 Rezoning: After a public hearing, the council will consider changing the zoning from Rural and General Commercial to Planned Development District for about 31 acres southwest of the Arrington Road-Greens Prairie Road intersection.
  5. Rock Prairie Road Agreement: The council will consider an inter-local agreement with Brazos County for improvements to Rock Prairie Road from Holleman Drive to Wellborn Road. The proposed cross-section of the roadway is two travel lanes, a continuous two-way left turn lane, bike lanes, and sidewalks.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Channels 19 or online. We’ll post a detailed live blog on this site.

Related Links:                                                                 

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian) has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


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Podcast: Is This A Thing? How the At Home deal was sealed (Episode 7)

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

Home decor superstore At Home has announced it will occupy the property that was formerly Gander Mountain on Earl Rudder Freeway in College Station. That’s great news for consumers, but also for those in the economic development business since empty box stores along a major highway is not the image you prefer.

On this edition of Is This A Thing?, College Station’s Economic Development Director Natalie Ruiz and Oldham Goodwin Group EVP Clint Oldham talk about how the At Home deal came about, how fragile this deal – and all eco-devo deals, to be honest – really was, and how retail attitudes are no longer cowering from The Amazon Effect.

Total run time: 15:46

  • 00:00 – Show Open
  • 01:20 — Conversation started last summer when Gander Mountain was rumored to close.
  • 02:28 — What happened when CS initially reached out to At Home.
  • 03:40 — Some expansion of this facility will need to happen.
  • 04:30 — When Oldham Goodwin engaged Gander Mountain ownership.
  • 05:25 — Among the challenges of that property.
  • 07:07 — Among the positives of this location.
  • 08:33 — The effectiveness of a CS-OGG partnership to make the deal happen.
  • 09:35 — What people don’t see: How close deals are to NOT happening.
  • 10:50 — Other areas in College Station where OGG is working.
  • 11:30 — Could’ve announced this sooner, but didn’t want to jinx the deal!
  • 12:38 — Conditions this year feel different regarding which retailers are ready to expand.
  • 13:33 — Amazon Effect not as smothering; brick and mortar still matter.
  • 14:30 — Guesses on when At Home will be ready to open? (Spoiler: Nope)

 

Related Links:

 


About the Blogger

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his ninth year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. A native of Breckenridge, he also serves as president of the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers.


 

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Sales tax holiday a chance to save water, money

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

Memorial Day weekend in the Brazos Valley means it’s time to Remember the Fallen, along with high school graduations, dance recitals, athletic events, and more. But if you can carve out the time, it’s also a great time to make your home and landscape more efficient.

And it’s all tax-free.

The Texas Comptroller’s Office is offering a sales tax holiday on the purchase of certain water and energy-efficient products from Saturday through Monday. The sales tax holiday was made possible by legislation passed in 2015, and this year marks the second time the tax holiday has provided an incentive for Texans to conserve our limited water resources. In addition to tax savings, rebates for toilets and rain barrels are available for College Station water customers.

Eligible items are things that can be used to conserve or retain groundwater, recharge water tables, or decrease ambient air temperature to reduce water lost to evaporation. Mulch is on the list because it is an excellent way to cool the soil, suppress weeds, and help plants use water efficiently. You can’t go wrong with a good thick layer of organic mulch.

Other tax-exempt items include:

  • WaterSense-labeled products.
  • Soaker or drip-irrigation hoses.
  • Moisture controls for sprinkler or irrigation systems (i.e., rain shutoff switches).
  • Rain barrels or an alternative rain and moisture collection system.
  • Permeable ground cover surfaces that allow water to reach underground basins, aquifers or water collection points.
  • Plants, trees, and grasses.
  • Water-saving surfactants.
  • Soil and compost.

WaterSense labeled products go through an independent third-party certification process and meet the EPA’s specifications for water efficiency and performance. The beauty of WaterSense is having water-saving products in your home or business that deliver exceptional performance and savings on your water bills for years to come.

For more information, visit the Water-Efficient Products Sales Tax Holiday page on the Texas Comptroller’s website. Stay cool this weekend and enjoy water and energy savings!

 

 


About the Blogger

Jennifer Nations has been the City of College Station’s water resource coordinator since 1999 after two years as BVSWMA’s environmental compliance officer. She’s also chair of the Water Conservation and Reuse Division for the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association. A native of Fremont, Calif., Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental & resource science from UC-Davis in 1995 and a master’s degree in water management & hydrologic science from Texas A&M in 2016.


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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (May 24)

(L-R): Bob Brick, Linda Harvell, Jerome Rektorik, Karl Mooney (mayor), John Nichols, Barry Moore, James Benham.

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, May 24. It’s not the official minutes.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink channel 19 or online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

5:32 p.m.

The workshop has started. Mayor Karl Mooney is absent tonight. Mayor Pro Tem James Benham will preside. No action was taken out of executive session.

5:33 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

The council will vote on items listed on the consent agenda during tonight’s regular meeting. No consent items were pulled for workshop discussion.

5:56 p.m.

Northgate Pedestrian Safety

The council heard a presentation about temporary measures to enhance pedestrian safety in the Northgate area, including the closing of Boyett Street at University Drive on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. An ongoing comprehensive study will help determine permanent changes.

Here are the PowerPoint presentations:

6:13 p.m.

Texas 4-H Horse Show

The council unanimously approved $25,000 in College Station Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) funds per year to support the Brazos County Expo Center’s bid to host the Texas State 4-H Horse Show for the next five years. 

Other possible funding partners and their annual HOT fund commitment are Experience BCS ($35,000), the City of Bryan for ($25,000) Brazos County ($50,000), and Expo Rewards Program ($12,000). The combined commitment for all partners is $147,000 per year for a total of $735,000 over five years.

The Texas State 4-H Horse Show is an eight-day event in July. The Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated an economic impact of $887,400 and 1,416 room nights for the 2017 show in Abilene. For the 2019 event, Experience BCS estimates an economic impact of $809,884 with 2,000 hotel room nights.

6:16 p.m.

Mayor Pro Tem Benham adjourned the workshop after the council discussed its calendar and received committee reports. The regular meeting will start immediately.

6:16 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

6:24 p.m.

Hear Visitors

Three people spoke during Hear Visitors when citizens might address the council on any item that doesn’t appear on the posted agenda.

  • The president of the Woodland Hills Homeowners Association spoke about maintaining the trees as a buffer between the subdivision and Lowe’s.
  • A resident spoke about issues with development in her Woodlands Hills neighborhood.
  • A resident spoke about the importance of trees and green areas in maintaining a healthy environment.

6:24 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve the entire consent agenda:

  • Renewal of a contract with the Texas Department of State Health Services, Vital Statistics and a data use agreement for access to confidential information.
  • The $135,814.39 purchase of new grounds maintenance equipment from Professional Turf Products for the Parks and Recreation Department.
  • The Semi-Annual Report on Small Area Impact Fees and System-Wide Impact Fees for Water, Wastewater, and Roadway.
  • A three-year, $1.2 million contract with SEL Engineering Services for electrical engineering services.
  • An ordinance repealing and terminating the Medical District Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone.
  • A $600,000 real estate contract for property for the planned Fire Station No. 7.
  • The second restatement of the inter-local agreement with the City of Bryan, City of Brenham, Brazos County, Washington County, Texas A&M University, and Grimes County for the construction, acquisition, implementation, operation, and maintenance of the Brazos Valley Wide Area Communications System.
  • A $337,182.47 general services agreement with ASAP Security Solutions for a video surveillance system in the Northgate District and in the Northgate Parking Garage.

6:31 p.m.

FY18 Budget Amendment

After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved a $4.13 million amendment to the city’s FY18 budget. Most of the amendment covers Phase II of the Veterans Park & Athletic Complex Build-Out ($1.55 million), the Fun for All Playground ($1 million), a design contract for Southeast Park ($400,000), and land for a new fire station.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

6:34 p.m.

Wellborn Road-Royder Road Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved a request to change the zoning designation from Planned Development District and Suburban Commercial to Wellborn Commercial for about four acres at the intersection of Wellborn Road and the future Royder Road.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

6:37 p.m.

Wellborn Road Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved a request to change the zoning designation from Rural to Wellborn Commercial for about 4.4 acres south of the Wellborn Road-Greens Prairie Road intersection.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:01 p.m.

College Station Business Center

After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved the College Station Business Center Development Plan, formerly known as the Spring Creek Corporate Campus.The Spring Creek Local Government Corporation will work with staff to implement the next phases of the Business Center, including platting, infrastructure design, deed restrictions, development standards, naming, signage, and branding.

The plan includes the development of about 250 acres of city-owned property along the east side of State Highway 6 South, north of W.D. Fitch Parkway, and south of Lick Creek.

The city began purchasing property in the area almost 20 years ago for the eventual development of a business park. The city owns about 485 acres, including significant areas of preserved greenway. The council’s Economic Development Committee and the Spring Creek Local Government Corporation have jointly overseen the development plan process.

The plan acts as an internal guide for the development of the business park and includes assessment of existing conditions, flexible land planning, potential industry targets, infrastructure demands and financing, and marketing and branding efforts. Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:02 p.m.

The council discussed and reviewed future agenda items.

7;02 p.m.

Mayor Pro Tem Benham adjourned the meeting. The council meets again on Thursday, June 14.

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian) has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


 

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