Tuesday night’s Van Alstyne City Council meeting might have been the start of a refreshing new season. There were several public hearings, both in the Zoning Board of Adjustments and the Council meeting, with no one speaking out and with all of the items under consideration being approved. There was the appointment of an interim fire chief, and the Council tabled one item until they could get further clarification.
The Council approved the appointment of Van Alstyne Fire Department Lt. Ryan Dockery as Interim Fire Chief. This appointment was made after a 2.5-hour executive session. The vote was four Council members for the appointment and Council Member Teddie Ann Salmon abstaining.
After the meeting, Dockery said, “I’m grateful for this opportunity, excited to have it. It’s a good group of guys who work here and that’s only going to make things easier for me.”
The Citizens Communication portion, which opens every Council meeting, saw three people talk to the Council about items not on the agenda. In this portion, the Council can only respond with facts, if they respond at all, and cannot take any action on the items brought up. Resident Clint Murphy brought a firefighter’s boot with him to the podium, and asked the crowd to help volunteer to fill it up with donations for the fire department to use. He said the volunteers might be standing on corners seeking donations. After the meeting, Salmon said that Atmos Energy had donated 40 cases and Diamond Grocery Store given 12 cases of bottled water for the firefighters’ use.
Two Van Alstyne residents, Brenda McDonald and Sue-Lynn Voigt, spoke out against one member of the Economic Development Corporation —David Hips — who Voigt said used an offensive term on a social media post. Both asked the Council to remove that EDC member from the Board.
Voigt said, “If he cannot control his language and such within the EDC, think what he would do when talking with new prospective business owners.”
McDonald added, “I thought that was sad when I saw it on Facebook. It was in extremely bad taste. It’s a no-win situation and it’s hurting our town.”
At the end of the meeting, Council member Suzon Crowell, who attended via Skype, said that they would address that situation at the next City Council meeting.
The public hearings and resulting votes included:
• Replat of property at the southwest corner of Van Alstyne Parkway and Dallas Street, the location of the former Van Alstyne Leader office. It was zoned commercial and is now residential. They also approved that the property become two plats.
• Approved a special use permit for the 8.26 acres on which the new Sanford Elementary School is being built, to allow a “public primary school” use within the residential district. This is near the current Middle School, Blassingame Avenue and Greywood Drive. Construction is already under way.
• Approved the rezoning of a 45.63-acre tract of land in that same area from its current four types of zoning status to become a Planned Development.
• During the consent agenda, where all items are approved or disapproved with one vote, the Council declared the Van Alstyne Leader as its official newspaper of record for fiscal year 2018; and appointed Monica Herrera to the Van Alstyne Library Board.
Council member Teddie Ann Salmon had one item removed from the consent agenda that spoke to non-consent towing regulations.
• After discussion about fees and how a maximum fee was determined, Salmon said she wanted more clarification. The Council tabled this item for future consideration.
• The Council unanimously approved a preliminary plat for an 89.974-acre tract in the north portion of the city’s Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction, located at the southeast corner of Old Highway 6 and Judd Road.
• They also amended the EDC’s 2018 budget for $26,200 to cover the costs of repair the rail spur in the city’s industrial park and the EDC’s participation in the city’s Comprehensive Plan. EDC Director Jodi Carr said that money is in reserve.
• Approved the list of five candidates for the Grayson Central Appraisal District Board of Directors.
It got a little confusing to many in the audience when the agenda item listed as “Consider and take any action necessary regarding approval of a resolution authorizing publication of notice of intention to issue certificates of obligation in a principal amount not to exceed $500,000 and authorizing certain other matters relating thereto to fund construction of a Public Works facility and relocation of approximately 1,000 feet of waterline” came up. First, the Council deferred to City Engineer Len McMannus, who explained that they received word from TxDOT in September that TxDOT will be widening drainage work on East Jefferson Street to Lincoln Park Road and “there are city facilities in the existing right-of-way. We are required to get it out of their way.” McMannus said this is not a choice that the city has, and it must be completed within three months as TxDOT expects to begin in early 2018.
The confusing part, at least for spectators, began when a man took the podium and addressed the Council without giving his name. It was unclear at first, but then appeared that he was offering financial advice and services to the city. Later, he provided a card with the name Jake Lawrence, Municipal Advisor with Government Capital of Southlake. “I work on I&S (Interest & Sinking) side of your budget,” he told the Council and provided a time line for such an authorization meeting to happen.
Salmon, after listening, said, “A financial advisory agreement is not something we are going to be voting on now.” The Council did approve, unanimously, the resolution to post notice of intent for the certifications of obligation to finance the proposed new Public Works facility and the necessary changes on East Jefferson Street.