Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rockwall City Council 15 June

Here we go again, again.

Glen Farris absent...

III. Proclamations

2. United States Army Day. SGTMAJ Clifford Sevier, Sr, US Army (ret) accepted on behalf of the entire army who was unable to attend.

3. American Taekwondo Association Day. The ATA does a lot of community work, food drives, etc. All that AND they have time to fight pirates! Now that's what I call Real Ultimate Power!


1. Taekwondo practitioners are mammals.
2. Taekwondo practitioners fight ALL the time.
3. The purpose of the Taekwondo practitioner is to flip out and kill people.

And here's Mark Russo getting beaten up by a girl:

1. Finally, Pastor Joe from the AME church accepted a proclamation in honor of
Juneteenth. Strangely, he was on the agenda first, but was moved to the back. Really, guys?

IV. Consent Agenda.

2 and 3 pulled.

Cliff Sevier had to abstain for some minutes approval and

David Sweet pulled item 3 for clarification of what exactly an "Automated Weather Observing System" being installed at the airport is. I looked it up, turns out its a system used to observe the weather. And it's automated.

V. Appointments.

1. P&Z chair spoke about some things that would come up again later in the public hearing section.

2. Fella wants to build a fence without having to sign a paper that reinforces the cities position about building on an easement. (FYI, you can do it like this guy will, but it's better if you don't.)

He won't have to sign and can now build his fence.

VI. Public Hearing Items.

1. Some guy wants to build a shed bigger than allowed by the city to store his mother-in-law and a car. Then he disappeared. Motion to move to later on passed, but he never reappeared.

2. Lady wants to change the zoning at the old photo studio near the post office so she can open a party barn and wedding boutique. It will also have marriage counseling, and a photo studio. The change in zoning was to accommodate a banquet hall. Margo Nielsen made motion to approve and Mark Russo
PROUDLY seconded.

3. Two nurses with nearly 20 years experience wanted to open an adult day care in a home between another home and a children's day care under construction on the very busy SH-205.

The couple made a very convincing case, but there were many valid objections from the council and residents:

"Have you ever run a business?"
"Why Rockwall?"
"Will you cook for them?"
"Why not near the medical corridor?"
"What will you do if there is an emergency?"
"How will you stop old people from running in the street?"
"What about outside lights?"
"Will you save the trees?"
"What about the sex offender nearby?"
"How will the old people get there?"
"How is it we know more than you and we don't know anything?"
"What the hell is wrong with these nuts?"

Oops, that last one was what I think the applicants were thinking.

A Mr. Whybull then spoke. He supported this. He spoke of property rights and the private sector taking care of a need. Many of the concerns brought up are the concern of the state regulating industry. Mr Whybull also spoke against what he saw as democratizing business and the council getting into the realm of the city approving business plans.

Another man, J White, spoke in favor. He mentioned his wife had run many day cares, and that none were near a medical center. Which was ok, because we have 911.

The nearby child day care center is not near a medical center, but council had no objections?

David Sweet suggested that somewhere else could be better? Matt Scott believes the city does have the rightto decide what businesses can go where without comparing an adult day care to a sex shop. Mark Russo believes the adult day care center would encroach on the freedom of the neighbors.



VII. Action Items.

1. Hubbard Chamber Music Series lost some donor or something and they would like the city to donate $2000.00 to make up for it out of hotel/motel tax money. I don't know if the city regularly sponsors, but I checked the website and the city was not listed as a sponsor. I'm sure after 2k of tax dollars are given the City of Rockwall will be added to that list. Also, if you would like to hear them and see where your Rockwall tax money is going, they are playing in Heath, at least I think so. Can't find any info on the website:
Hubbard Chamber Music Series.

2. Subcommittees. What are they good for? Absolutely somethin'. Lots of subcommittees. Too many? Not enough? Should we keep em or disband em? Keep some? Lose all? Make em longer term? Make em short term? Margo Nielsen made a motion and David Sweet with 80% understanding of that motion seconded.

3. 3 guys who didn't speak other than introducing themselves were there to get some money to some kind of study or something for some road or grading or something. Planned Development District 32. Look it up.

4. Talk about the HOA reform bill aka the "I moved into an HOA and found out it sucks" bill. It didn't pass in the state legislature. According to Matt Scott it failed because some guy in Houston gave Dr Bob Deuelle (our state Senator) lots of campaign money. After more bashing of Dr Deuell, the item closed without action.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rockwall City Council 1 June

Ah, the swearing in of (un)elected officials fills my heart with great pride knowing that our democracy works! The guarantee of 2 more years of nitwittery is upon us!

Administering the oath was Judge Brett Hall. Interesting that he's a left-hander, and, as is well known, the left hand is the devil's hand! How appropriate!

"I swear that I am smarter than everyone I represent. I promise to ignore a real problem facing the citizens in lieu of one that a friend or family has an issue with. I promise to not recuse myself in matters with obvious conflicts of interest. I will not pay attention to city staff explanations during council sessions, opting instead to ask in the most verbose way a minimum of 20 questions about that which the staff explicitly covered in their briefing. (The part about defending the US Constitution omitted.)"

IV. Open Forum

1. The Pastor from the AME church thanked the city for fixing the pool. Also he wanted to let the city know that that park and pool were the heart and soul of the community. He also mentioned it was a contentious issue to start talking about messing around with it. Told you so.

He finally talked about the substandard roads and drainage in Southside. City ignoring real problems? Say it ain't so.

2. Next guy got kicked to the curb till the next meeting.

V. Consent Agenda. Yawnsvile.

VI. Appointments

1. P&Z Chair. More yawnsville.

2. Speed Fab Crete. Fire stations. Almost finished.

VII. Public Hearing.

1. Unbelievable how much tree talk goes on in a council meeting. Tree fund: kill a tree, plant a new one or pay the city some money. Like our own version of carbon credits. But the tree fund money can be used by the city to buy and plant trees in parks and stuff, that actually sounds pretty good! Or the money can be used for something other than trees. Of course.

VIII. Action Items

1. Sounds like somebody needs a waiver or something. Ginger lady asked to postpone to a later date.

2. One of the better ones of the evening! A fella over in the mobile side of the Zoo wants to replace his nearly unlivable, dilapidated, falling down, so-bad-that-Jeffrey-Widmer-with-a-camera-would-claim-it-abandoned-and-dangerous, existing mobile home with a brand spanking new manufactured home. The city staff has some "concerns" that they would like to address to the council. The biggest concern is probably that too many single family homes will be built before the city gets to turn it into a multi-family slum.

The main problem is that the guy can't afford to build a stone and brick Taj Mahal. He can afford a manufactured home. The city's current requirement of 80% mansonary exterior are too costly for this guy and not practical for this type of home. The proposed home will be clad in Hardie Board. Margo wants to make sure any requirement of brick adds value and not just cost.


Half an hour later the council emerges from their super-secret meeting to finally ask questions of the home owner and manufacture's rep. Essentially, the existing home will be replaced by a similar structure, but better. The foundation and exterior will be better than existing. Everything about the new home will be 100 times better than existing. It just doesn't fit the Rockwall mold. Hell, you annexed US.

A voice of reason finally emerges as Cliff Sevier make a motion to approve, seconded by Glen Farris (who I think was concerned about about landscaping). As always happens, reason is quickly clouded in council. Mark Russo wants shutters on this guys house. Shutters. On a house he doesn't live in or have any vested interest. Shutters. I have heard there will be a historical marker placed in the front yard so that future generations will know why shutters were installed. Does Mark have shutter?. Councilman Sweet was concerned about the the life span of the home. The manufacture's rep said typically it's 25-30 years. Which I think is 10-15 years better than the tract homes that now litter our fair town. In a couple more years our neighborhood is gonna be complaining about the blight on the other side of Tubbs.

After an hour and a half of discussion, motion passes.

3. Speed fab architect or something wants more money that he forgot to charge the city? Was it 80 grand or something? Hard to follow this one. Not even sure what the action was.

4. Water conservation plan. Glen's passion about this one is kinda scary. He sure loves irrigation talk. Spent a lot of time talking about crazy devices for limiting or not limiting watering of lawns by an irrigation system and how that goes along with watering restriction times. Rain sensors and freeze sensors and robots and Cray computers controlling watering. Most people use an Aggie weather station, but I guess that's too simple. Matt opposed something about retroactive enforcement. Mark opposes micromanagement *coughshutters*. AquaTexas in the Zoo has a sure fire method the city could use to prevent over usage of water. A bumper sticker I saw once is absolutely the best remedy, which stated:

"My irrigation system is Jewish carpenter."

Works great at my house.

5. Update on the city's "green initiatives". The city staffer claims a reduction in energy for the month of may by 9% and water by 7%. I am sure only the most scientific methods were used in acquiring this information. Done by changing lights and window film placement? Never did hear a cost a cost versus savings benefit mentioned. Whatever, at least we feel like we're doing something.

6. 4-sided architectural requirements. Overlay district. Articulation standards. (repeat 4ooo times). Somehow, Glen was able to form a question out of that.

Recommendation 4 was accepted?


7. Council/Staff retreat in November. Hmm.

8. Rockwall Zoo stuff. My fffffffffavorite.

a. Should the LRE annexation sub-committee be dissolved now that LRE is annexed. Seems pretty cut and dry. Yeah, right. Cliff Sevier: The sub-committee has done an adequate job (generous usage of the word adequate I think), city has staff to do the "job" of the sub-committee now, time to do away with the subcommittee. David Sweet agrees. Julie is very proud of the work the code enforcement has done. Be nice to get our drainage and streets fixed. I guess if Southside has to wait 50+ years, so do we. Matt Scott sniped Cliff Sevier (without saying his name) by saying "some" think the issues are black and white, but they aren't! Mayor Cecil makes motion to approve. Margo warns there is a lots of work hours still to do for the Zoo. Luckily, now that there is not subcommittee, those hours will now be divided by 7 instead of 3.

But they are all up for the challenge of not fixing roads or drainage or not acquiring water rights!

b. Zoning. City must act quickly or else they won't get to cram multi-family slums into the mobile home side! The city is just sure that's what people are wanting! Not the people who live out there, but there are people on this earth looking for a low rent housing. And by golly, if they city won't do it's best to provide that for them! If you build it they will come!

Robert LaCroix and Matt Scott express concerns about enforcemnt of anti-monotony in the Zoo. Have they never been there? Where was the concern about anti-monotony when then tract housing started taking over the city? Mr Scott said something about adding character to the neighborhood? Once again, has he not been out there?

Several times we in the audience here from staff and council that they have heard the opposition to multi-family. Yet, I have yet to hear from anyone (except on council or staff) who supports it! Especially, the residents! (All of whom i have spoken to oppose it.) The city will be having public hearing on the matter, not for input from the citizens, more like "Here's what your gonna get, like it or not, cuz we know what's best for you rubes."

A paranoid person would think something is going on behind the scenes with the fervent attitude toward multi-family housing in the Zoo presented by the council and staff.

Mr Sweet expressed his opposition, as did Mr Sevier and Mr Russo with their vote (4-3) on the motion to move forward.

c. Finally dangerous housing demolition. Jeffrey Widmer "drove around" and took pictures from the street to determine which houses where uninhabited and dangerous. Mark Russo pointed out several of the pictures presented to council had cars parked in the driveways of some of these dangerous homes. Mr Widmer assured that those cars probably belonged to people next door. Mr Farris asked if Mr Widmer drove through the entire neighborhood to identify those properties which are dangerous. Mr Widmer assured that he had done a thorough glancing.

9. City buys some water rights. No, not the Zoo's, silly.

The End. And it only took 5 hours and 20 minutes.