Prior to the regular meeting of the Jourdanton City Council, there were two public hearings. The first was for the Dangerous Structures Board of Appeals regarding a mobile home on 2101 Cantrell Avenue. City Attorney Habib Erkan advised the council that the code provided actions dealing with dilapidates, substandard, unfit for residence and a danger to the health and safety of the community. Notices have to be sent out to the property owners and the council has to hold a public hearing. Their options are to do nothing, require the owner to make repairs or have the building demolished. The owner has 30 days to take care of the problem or appeal.
Steve Estrada, Public Works Director said that the taxes have not been paid in 15 years on this property and his office has received lots of complaints about the building. His recommendation is to demolish the building. All letters sent to the owner have been returned, undeliverable. Theresa Sands, who lives on Brown, said that she thinks it needs to be demolished: there are lots of properties like this around and something needs to be done to beautify and improve the community.
The hearing was closed at 6:20 p.m.
Robert “Doc” Williams moved to order the building demolished. Donnie Blue seconded. Raul Morales and Chester Gonzales also voted for demolition. Patsy Tymrak- Daughtrey voted against.
Mayor Susan Netardus opened the second public hearing at 6:35. A special use permit has been requested by Calvin and Jessica Maxwell to bring a manufactured home to 703 Cottonwood, which is zoned SF-1. Mrs. Maxwell reported that the Planning and Zoning Committee had approved this request.
The second special use permit was to move a manufactured home to 3003 Brown Avenue, which is zoned SF-1. Robert and Jennifer Guzman addressed the council, admitting that the neighbors are opposed to them moving the home there. It is a new one, just completed on April 7 and is currently in storage, where they have to pay rental fees. They are purchasing the property from the current owners. There are currently three mobile homes on that block, according to Sharon Everett, who spoke for the family.
Sands lives at 3103 Brown in a pier and beam house. She is concerned about the property values in the neighborhood if they allow a mobile home to be brought in. She asked council to “treat this as if this is going up next to you.” Joyce Price also lives on Brown Street and respects that the young couple is trying to have a better home and life for their family. However, she pointed out that a lot of mobile homes around town are not kept up or do not have skirting or the skirting is in poor shape. She, too, is concerned about the future of property values. Ms. Guzman asked what the condition of other mobile homes in town has to do with their issue. They have ordered skirting for their home. Mr. Guzman apologized for the condition of the lot now, but said he is doing the work by himself. He said he understood the concerns but asked them to give them a chance at a better life for their children.
The hearing was closed at 7 p.m.
The regular meeting was called to order immediately. The consent agenda was approved, with Tymrak voting against. She questioned the payment of $106,000 to RAM. City Manager Dan Nick said that was a payment from the USDA grant for services on the water project. It is now about 90% complete.
Irene Hernandez addressed the council under citizen’s comments. She paid for the street in front of her business three years ago and is now questioning why she had to do that, instead of the city. She also claimed that she was told the city would take over the upkeep in two years. Hernandez also wanted to know why some people get to leave their business signs in yards, when the ordinance says they have to be taken down. She was made to take hers down within 24 hours of putting them up. Council cannot answer any comments made during this time.
The special use permit for the Maxwell’s moving to 703 Cottonwood was approved, with Gonzales abstaining. The special use permit for the Guzman’s was tabled since the council did not have any recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Committee.
Discussion of the Sports Complex was next on the agenda. City Engineer Raul Garcia called Jack Harrison and Dorothy Manning to the podium with him, since they represented the committee that has been working on this project. They explained how they met with contractors, then published requests for qualifications. They received seven, from which the top five were chosen. On March 5, they reviewed the three firms who replied. They interviewed each firm and decided upon Slay Engineering Team. Harrison added that they all put in a lot of time on this. Slay came within the budget and “won our hearts.” He reminded the council that the money to be used to build the complex, Hotel Occupancy Tax, cannot be used for such things as paving the streets. Manning added that hopefully all would be completed so the community could enjoy it by next Spring. Motion to give the bid to Slay passed with Gonzales and Tymrak voting against. Gonzales said that the new bid is almost $6 million, where they have already gone out for $5 million in bonds. He and Morales both thanked the committee for working so hard on the project.
Dennis R. Jandt, representing Centerpoint Energy Resources addressed the council regarding the Gas Reliability Infrastructure Program interim rate adjustment, which allows the company to recoup part of their investment in laying new pipe and extending services. This is the fourth year in a five year program and is just a formality. The Railroad Commission assigns the tariff rate. Motion passed with Tymrak voting against.
The Mayor read a proclamation naming May 10 through May 16, 2015 as National Police Week. There will be a candlelight vigil and flags at half staff on May 13.
The bid to build a lift station and do sanitary sewer improvements near the intersection of Cedar Street and Jourdanton Avenue was awarded to Qro Mex Construction Co., Inc. with Tymrak voting against. Engineer Garcia recommended their approval and said the work would be paid for completely through the USDA grant. They have 300 days to complete the project. Gonzales asked Nick if this would take care of some of the infiltration of the sewer and he was told yes.
Three items were tabled until a later date.
There have been drainage problems on Palmetto Street for many years and it has been aggravated with the recent excavation done for the new sewer lines. The contractor put back the same soil that he dug up and did nothing else to protect the homes in the area. Netardus asked that Nick take care of this problem as soon as possible.
Tymrak requested that the city pass a resolution for Spring Cleanup Week for May 1 through 8. Netardus said that the bulk clean up is going on now. Gonzales thought it was a good idea to use this more as a campaign to get the community more involved. Blue said he didn’t see why they needed to do this: it was a waste of time. Motion passed with Williams and Blue voting against.
There is a HB 1399 and SB310 that deals with the requirements of issuance of certificates of obligation that Tymrak moved to support. City Attorney Erkan explained that if the public voted against a bond, then a city could not issue certificates of obligation for three years for the same debt. Tymrak said that a lot of the information would have to be posted on the website, such as the interest rate, combined principal and interest, making the process easier to understand for taxpayers. Morales abstained, Williams and Blue voted negative so the mayor had to break the tie. She voted affirmative so the motion passed.
Police Chief Eric Kaiser had done research on a couple of things at the request of the council. The first was on an emergency notification system. He suggested One Call Now, which contacts citizens through text messaging and gives the city control over the content. If they piggy backed off the county or the school, they would have no control over content. The cost is $4,968 to set up and $1,400 annually. Gonzales said he was disappointed that this issue had taken so long and pointed out that not everyone had cell phones. He just wanted something simple, like the sirens, to let folks know what was going on, but they needed to be educated to what the sirens meant. Motion was made to approve and passed, three to two.
Kaiser also looked into getting someone to do the city website. He found Civic Plus which specializes in municipalities. The City of Lytle uses them. Again, Tymrak wanted to piggy back off the school or at least have someone locally do the site. It was decided, after some discussion, that Kaiser would continue to look into this and bring back several other choices.
Williams reminded the council of the Volunteer Fire Departments Chili Cookoff coming up soon. Meeting was adjourned at 9:36 p.m.