The Van Alstyne City Council met for its regular monthly meeting Tuesday night, with all four Council members, Ryan Neal, Marla Butler, Robert Jaska, and Lee Thomas in attendance and the fifth, Suzon Crowell, attending by way of Skype.
Mayor Steve Riley opened the meeting with two public hearings, both on requests by property owners to be annexed into the city.
The first brought several people to the microphone, to address the Council with their concerns. This is a 168-acre tract of land in the northwest portion of the town, and surrounding by Blythe Road, Jay Road, Redden Road, and State Highway 5. Numbers brought up as to how many homes proposed to be built there ranged from 160 to 400 homes. Speakers included Edward Martinez, who reminded the Council that there is a private gun range in that area, which will become public within the year. “And what will this do for the neighborhood, having a rifle range out there?” Commissioner Jeff Whitlock talked about his concern for the road structure. “Redden Road and Jay Road are not built up to the amount of traffic (they will sustain). The County has not budgeted any kind of money to improve those roads. I’m afraid they will be terribly beat to death.”
Another resident, who said he has lived there since 1980, mentioned the added problems with flooding that laying concrete and asphalt down will create. “On an average rainfall, the creek backs up and nearly floods the houses on Redden Road as it is. Will you be running an environmental impact study as to what will happen? Me, I will get me some flood insurance and put in a lawsuit against the city and the builders to pay for the damages that will be incurred.”
To that, City Engineer Len McManus stated that, prior to development, the builders must meet the infrastructure and paving requirements set by the city. When asked, Riley said that the current homes will remain inside the county and not be annexed.
Thomas said, “To reiterate, the property owner is coming to the city wanting to be annexed, to have city services including fire, police, water, sewer. That’s what they are asking for. Any other property would be annexed at the discretion of the homeowner. If the city decides not to annex, the property will fall under the county’s requirements, and the property owner can put houses out there without all the strict requirements. He can do whatever he wants to with it.”
The second property, being requested by its owner to be annexed, is a 25.9-acre tract between U.S. Highway 75, Kelly Lane, County Line Road, and Marshall Drive. There was no one who spoke up either for or against this request.
At Crowell’s request, one item was removed from the Consent Agenda for a separate discussion and vote, and that was the appointment of Larry Cooper to the Planning & Zoning Board.
Crowell’s concern seemed to be procedural, that this opening wasn’t advertised in the newspaper, and her understanding was that the Council had decided on that being a part of the selection process. City Manager Lane Jones said it was posted on the city’s and the P&Z’s Websites. P&Z Chairperson Jim Atchison said they were presented with two applications, and the P&Z vote was unanimous to send Cooper’s name on to the Council for approval. As the discussion continued, it sounded as if the definition of the word ‘advertise’ was different for those involved. Butler made the motion to approve the appointment with Thomas seconding it, and the vote was four in favor and one, Crowell, against.
Riley said Cooper and been an alternate on the P&Z board and with this appoint, the alternate seat became open. Filling that seat will be on the next agenda, he said.
The remainder of the consent agenda was approved unanimously, and that included the cancellation of the May 4 election. Since there are no opposed seats, those who signed up for the seats that did come open will automatically be seated. It will be May 10 before these can be sworn in. The regularly scheduled Council meeting for May will be May 13.
The consent agenda, and its unanimous approval, also included awarding the contract for the Shared Use Path to Accelerated Critical Path Inc. in the amount of $727,261, with Texas Department of Transportation paying 90 percent of that and the city responsible for the remaining 10 percent.
Van Alstyne Public Library Administrator Judy Kimzey brought the Council up to speed on the library’s history, the many programs it offers and plans for new programs, it’s funding, and plans for the library’s 50th-anniversary celebration in 2020.
The library opened in 1970 with 8,000 books and was on the 2nd floor above the old city hall. It moved into its current location in 1992, Kimzey said, adding later in the presentation that within five years, the library will be needing a new facility.
The Council approved an amendment to the Community Development Corporation current budget, and tabled its approval of the Economic Development Corporation’s revised by-laws until, Riley said, “We hear that the (revised) verbiage is correct.”
Riley said, before the Council broke into executive session, “Thank everyone who spoke up. Every voice is important, even if we don’t agree.”
The executive session was to discuss: contemplated litigation, the Mantua development, the Trussel tract development, the CCN service areas, and the purchase of property for city facilities and parks.
Upon their return to open meeting, they approved a motion to grant the city manager the authority to negotiate on property that the city is interested in purchasing.