VA Council Discuss New Subdivision Requirements for Future Development

Rodney WilliamsManaging Editor

Though there were a few action items on Tuesday night’s Van Alstyne City Council agenda it was a discussion item that, well, garnered the most discussion.

Led by city consulting engineer Len McManus of McManus & Johnson, Council discussed a draft of subdivision regulations and design standards and gave their input and direction for completing documents for approval consideration. This action, according to McManus, is needed to get the city’s subdivision regulations up to date. The document would be extensive, setting forth design criteria and regulations for incoming development. Some of the criteria set forth in the document would address items such as drainage runoff ordinances, landscaping requirements, city mapping, parks and recreation requirements as they pertain to these subdivisions, commercial lighting requirements and restrictions and the fee structure.

That fee structure discussion is needed, said McManus, because Van Alstyne currently charges approximately one-third what other cities charge. City Manager Frank Baker said that, regarding future fee structures, he wanted developers “to shoulder the burden” of more of these costs and put less on residents.

“This is an opportunity to set the standard that others follow,” said Baker.

“I think this is a wonderful idea,” added Mayor Teddie Ann Salmon.

City attorney Julie Fort laid out some points to consider for the council, including the fact that if this is drafted it could lead to an increase in the number of development plats submitted for consideration and a much longer agenda for council meetings. Fort stated that if it so desired Council could designate the Planning & Zoning Board to have final approval of plats with Council hearing any objections from developers. Fort also stated that “administrative plats,” or those less than 40 acres, could be approved by city staff with no need to go before P&Z or Council. Those plats would still, of course, have to be approved by the city engineer.

One item garnering more discussion than the rest was the subject of future gated communities. Councilman Russell Moore said that the city needs to define an HOA’s role in these developments and determine what control it has over the streets in these gated communities, a sentiment shared by the rest of Council.

Since this was a discussion item no action was taken but Council and McManus will hold at least one workshop to get the draft in order.

On the action agenda was a request by Larry Nickell to sub-lease property located at 601 Martin Duke Rd. to Ramon Contreras. The property will be the site of a paint and body shop. Contreras told Council he had been a paint and body man in Wylie for 25 years. Council approved the request unanimously, 5-0.

Council declared March 15-21 to be Poison Prevention Week in Van Alstyne.

Fort spoke on item number 10 on the agenda, a motion to consider and take action authorizing the mayor to sign a resolution requesting and supporting an amendment to the definition of “munipality” in the Texas Local Government Code. The item stemmed from the city of Lakewood Village and a court case it is currently in the midst of, one in which the legal definition of “municipality” has played a significant role. The resolution would support passage of a proposed bill in the state legislature amending the term. It was approved 5-0.

An insurance settlement was next on the agenda, specifically one from Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool (TLMIRP) for a city storage building that was damaged 14 months prior during severe winter weather. TMLIRP had previously appraised the building at $40,000 but only paid out $16,000 for the damage. The City did not accept the settlement and TLMIRP agreed to add another $30,000 if Council would approve it. It passed, 5-0.

“It’s fair to the insurance company and it’s fair to us,” said Moore.

The structure will be rebuilt but where is not clear at this time. The issues with City Hall as detailed in an earlier Leader have city staff considering a move, whether that be temporary or permanent. If the move is permanent the storage facility would possibly not be built in its current location.

MEETING NOTES: Tuesday’s meeting was held a week early due to spring break for local schools next week… Library Director Judy Kimzey said that they had 2,500 people pass through the doors last month and a circulation of 1,960. She also stated that on March 21 the library will be hosting a book signing for local author Janice Tracy… Fire Chief Landon Smith stated that construction of the city’s new fire engine is well underway and he recently was sent photos of the assembly in progress. Smith indicated it should be another month or so before the engine is brought to Van Alstyne… City Manager Frank Baker informed Council that DGNO Railroad will be installing concrete pads between the rails in the coming days. He also informed Council that he was told by a TxDot representative that potholes on Highway 5 would be addressed but that weather had put work crews behind schedule. Baker addressed the City Hall building and stated that staff would have options for next month’s meeting… Police Chief Tim Barnes presented the annual Racial Profiling Report to Council… Councilman Billy Plake mentioned that there is currently an open seat on the Planning & Zoning Board.