Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Town Hall Meeting" 23 July

Fact: What the citizens of the Zoo want is irrelevant.

The city long ago, with input from input from uppity white folk, decided what will be done with Lake Rockwall Estates.

The citizens of the Zoo deserve such treatment (punishment). After years and years of refusing to "clean up" the neighborhood, the city comes in with a grand plan to help all those trashy, ignorant folks fix their lives. We can only blame ourselves for the city's actions. We are too stupid and poor to make wise choices (for instance even MOVING into the neighborhood shows a lack of brains).

I for one welcome our new overlords.

It is time for the citizens out there to shut their mouths, and take their paddlins' like big boys and girls. The majority supported annexation, and this is exactly what many (in the minority) expected: Do-gooder mentality and forced compliance.

Here's a breakdown of those who spoke at the poorly advertised, poorly attended "town hall":

Joel Morgan, 234 Perch, 30-year resident - Wants water (from city)
Debbie Adams, 485 Eva, 30-year resident - Opposes Multi-family, wants another entrance to Area 2
Eldon Mass, 40-year resident - Wants water (from city)
David Jurrasicpark, non-resident land-owner, wants to build a quadplex. Also bought a home in flood plain he is unable to sell on Lakeside.
Antonio Rico, 1157 Yvonne - Opposes Multi-family, wants water (from city)
Leslie Price, 394 Wayne - Opposes Multi-family, wants water (from city)
Mary Garza, 482 Eva, 12-year resident - Opposes Multi-family
Joe Hayes, 303 Tubbs - Big trucks tearing up roads, youths bein' rowdy at night, wants street lights
Gerry Polsey, 131 Lynne, 27-year resident - Opposes Multi-family
Cindy Ellis, 394 Wayne, property owner - Opposes Multi-family
Larry Jackson, Blanche, - Opposes Multi-family
Nona Hayes, 303 Tubbs - Too many big trucks
"Bulletproof vest" guy, Althea, 36-year resident
- Opposes Multi-family
Shannon Nerren, 599 Trout, 3-year resident - Opposes Multi-family

Reasons people opposed multi-family houses:

Overcrowding an already overcrowded area
Renters not as good neighbors as owners
Increase in traffic
Sex offenders like duplexes (???, that's what she said.)
Deed restrictions do not permit
Duplexes replacing manufactured homes negatively affects drainage (as per a Registered Professional Engineer and resident)
Impact on infrastructure has not been looked at by city

In summary: Not one resident spoke in favor of multi-family, and most who spoke oppose multi-family.

Will the city listen to the concerns of the citizens? How could they? 99.99999999999% of teh Zoo don't even speak English!!!! And the remaining 0.00000000001 speak some form of white-trash hillbilly!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rockwall City Council 20 July

III. Proclamations

NFPA Safe Community Awarded for kids having learned that everything they love is dangerous: bikes, fire, guns, poison, etc. Apparently written by Tolstoy.

The city of Rockwall gives out FREE (Yes, Ben, I said free.) smoke detectors at the fire stations. They will even install them!

IV. Consent Agenda.

1. Minutes
2. Mother-in-Law Storage approval
3. Approval of a bid ($$)
4. Atmos something or other.

All approved.

V. Appointments. Commissioner Herbst, sitting in for Chairman Bricker, says nothing.

VI. Public Hearings.

1. Guy turning 3 lots into 1. No public spoke. Approved by council.

2. Hair Salon thingy. Limit to 1 chair. Public Silent. Approved.

3. Solar Panels! Basically:

Glen hearts solar panels.

Cliff believes no one (other than owner) should have issues of aesthetics regarding one's own home.

Mark wants an update in the future.

The home owner is getting a write-off and Oncor money to off-set the costs, and expects a 5 year payback on his 4kw system.

I was sorely disappointed the council missed such a grand opportunity to ask ridiculous questions. Passes with almost no discussion!

VII. Action Items.

Items 1 & 6 regarding parking on unpaved surface and fences moved to next meeting. Weird how things that would so greatly impact the Zoo keep coming up after not being an issue during the previous 150+ years since Rockwall's founding.

2. City water restrictions something or other on people who pay for city water. (I assume it for city water customers, because I don't get city water and would find it downright tyrannical if the city tried to impose it's restrictions on non-customers like those of the Zoo, 95% of whom thought we would be getting a cheaper water rate once annexed, as that was all they really cared about. $150.00 this month for a house <1000sqft.) style="color: rgb(102, 102, 102);" size="1">(The items from here to #11 had to be re-written as something got ate up like a soup sandwich, hope I can recreate. I am quite irritated now.)

3. Area in danger of being annexed had an agreement not to develop in exchange they don't get annexed. Extended for another year.

4. Same as 3, different area.

5. City about to get "all up in the Shores Golf Course" business. Public forum will be held so questions can be asked. Questions like, "Why does the city have authority over a private golf course?" and "Why isn't this a concern of anyone other than members?".

7. Main Street Rib Rub. BBBQ competition and stuff.

(Irritation level growing, as I have written so much on all this before!)

8. More main street stuff.

Money being doled out for private businesses to update signage.

Other things:

-San Jacinto Court (Harbor competition?)
-Directional kiosks for those with myopia and neck problems to find things on square
-Sidewalk repairs
-Dog Days Event

9. Sign thing moved to next meeting.

10. David presents best idea of night! Broadcasting of city council meetings. 2 years ago city had an estimated cost of $85,000. Thank God technology has come so far with the recent invention of the "internet" and "web cams"!

Of course, this isn't nearly complicated or expensive enough for a bureaucrat to consider! After all, the peoples' money won't overspend its self!

It's not like you can go to Wal-Mart and get some cheap web cam off the shelf! Further, it's a very compicated procedure to set it up that requires a brilliant IT company's technician to install! Not just ANYBODY can do it!

(irritation back to normal levels)

11. In case you haven't heard, Family Circle has declared Rockwall one of the top 10 places to raise a family! And the city wants the world to know!

12. 2 residents have complained to the city about teenagers hanging out at the Harbor overflow parking lot.

Reports of wheelies (!), loud talking, illegal drinking, hood surfing, trucks driving on a road, and reckless driving on the street.

Police have been out many times without issuing any citations or finding any wrongdoing. Some are worried about "logging" a complaint as it will lower their property value.

Cliff and Bill would consider a restriction of times of use.

Margo points out that there have been no offenses, and this could lead those hanging out at the lot to move someplace else!

Julie believes that kids do need a place to hang out, but some place they could be monitored and not near residences! Of the 2 people that have spoken to Julie, one spoke for all other residents who haven't called anyone in the city.

Glen reinforces there is no place for kids to go and wondered if the parking hour restrictions would lead to a conflict if the hotel had conventioneers or similar that needed the parking lot.

Chief Moeller finished by pointing out there have been no curfew violations.

Early dismissal - 2034!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Planning and Zoning Meeting 14 July

I read somewhere that if you eat something you don't like on the first try, the tenth time you try it, you will end up liking it.

2nd P&Z meeting, 8 to go.

All Public Hearings:

1. Some fella in Chandler's owns 3 lots, want to make 'em one lot. Bill Bricker: HOA's say ok? Yes. Passes 7-0 in favor. (No public spoke.)

2. Hair Salon is back. Not enough parking per city standard. Commissioners concerned about parking issues! It could get crowded! Doesn't this seem like it's the hair salon's problem?

(Side note: Mr Hunter seemed a little "abrupt" with Mr LaCroix, but maybe that's his style.)

Anyhoo, the recommendation seems to be a waiver (?) for the parking space and limit the number of "chairs" inside the salon to 2.

3. Fella with the solar dream is back. City sent out 21 notices, 3 came back: 2 in favor, 1 opposed. The one opposition was from the someone, not on his street and the opposition was only that it was going to on the front of the house, but would rescind his opposition if the panels were on the back of the house. It seemed as the the opposer lives directly behind and would see the panels from his house, but would never see them if the panel were mounted on the front! Odd.

City staff presents its recommendations.

Mr Hunter inquired as to the specificity of the recommendations. (Cuz city has no ordinance, has to be case by case for now.)

Mr Buchanan asked for a picture (more on that later) from further across the street (to see what the neighbor would see, a neighbor who has already stated he would have no problem with the panels.)

He then asked if there would be a glare. There will not be a glare. This was asked and answered 2 weeks ago at the last P&Z. Mr Buchanan was not absent from that meeting.

More: What if the trees go away? 2 weeks ago the tree concern was what if the trees got too big!

Lynn Davis: Will the wiring be visible???????? (Maybe.)

AGAIN she asks about glare because she believes all glass will glare no matter the background behind the glass (which is black.) If this sounds like Deja Vu all over again, it's not from the above reading, she asked the SAME thing 2 weeks ago. Maybe she thought the physical properties of the glass had changed in 2 weeks. (It didn't.)

The company rep and home owner then went into a brief discussion of how sun reflects off the panels and how the sun moves across the sky. Basically, it won't glare. Still. Even if SOMEone on some other council asks the same question, the answer will be the same (Unless the physical properties of glass change.)

(Don't remember who asked): A question of noise was raised. Again. It will still be quiet, nothing has changed from the meeting 2 weeks ago.

More from Ms Davis: Old panels look frosty and tacky! What about maintenance?!? We have to keep it pretty for the neighborhood!

Company Rep: If dirty, no worky. Just hose it off.

Ms Davis: Won't the cost of water to clean and maintain cancel out any monetary savings received from using solar panels?

(Thank God for T.H.)

Too hard to categorize the following, so it'll be kinda random:

Mr Hunter: Where goes the inverter? (Garage)

Mr. Buchanan: Will you have to beef up your roof? (No.)

Mr Bricker: If the manufacturer goes out of business, the warranty is worthless. How can we (the city) enforce upkeep on the panels to make sure there will never be a warranty issue?

Mr Hunter: What city employee can enforce the maintenance?

(What if panels become unsightly or no longer used?????)

Mr LaCroix: (Perplexed by the question?): Not sure how you can write into the SUP "unsightly" or "unused". The city can not regulate the (future) appearance of the panels any more than they can regulate shingle colors. (I thought they did that. Hmm, maybe I'll get some purple ones.)

Ms Davis: How bout a 1-year review to any "nuisance" (ie panel's appearance)!

Mr Bricker wondered if the city could do the review, and if negative have the panels taken down (he didn't like that idea, and neither did Mr Hunter).

Mr Bricker made 2 recommendations for the city's future ordinance:

Have an engineer's certificate to guarantee the strength of the roof.

AND address what the wires will look like on the roof.

(He also made a recommendation after adjournment [can they do that??] concerning how panels would be arranged on a roof .

If you (the reader) were also concerned about how bad the panels will potentially look (at least during summer) if installed today, and baring any sudden death of trees by some mysterious tree disease. This is a real picture (courtesy of Google street view) of the front of the applicant's house. (Even though it's public record, I have removed identifying markings of the street):

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rockwall City Council 6 July

Visit Planet Rockwall, now.

III. Proclamations.

Buncha folks from the city took some classes dubbed "Rockwall University Leadership Program". Department heads and Hon Ralph Hall give a class in their expertise to educate employees bout what other employees are doing. The graduates got a plaque and some money.

"How much?", asked the Mayor.
"A Token.", came the reply.

Also, casserole ideas were traded and a list of the best "lil smokies" recipe was established for departmental parties:

1. Lil Smokies with Cattlemans
2. Lil Smokies with KC Masterpiece
3. Lil Smokies with Bull's Eye
4. Lil Smokies with Kraft BBQ Sauce
5. Lil Smokies with Great Value BBQ Sauce

IV. Open Forum.

1. Pastor Joe thanked the city for not destroying the heart and soul of the Southside Community and for the city's support of the Juneteenth celebration.

2. Sheriff Eavenson disguised as "Harold" said he would like the city to have a forum or discussion regarding the Shores Golf Course. And he has a gun. I said that, not "Harold". Not as a threat, just a reminder.

V. Consent Agenda.

1. Pulled by Glen (minutes from previous meeting) cuz he had better things to do than the people's business.

5. Pulled by Matt, who vocalized his plan to oppose this item. David also said he planned to vote in mere seconds in opposition. Passes 5-2. (Replatting of a lot for Comfort Inns, I think, over between Popeye's and Burger King, see P&Z notes if desired.)

Other stuff passed including someting about the city's water conservation plan. Is this for the city's water customers only or is everyone included, like those in my neighborhood who pay 3 times what the typical citizen pays for water that is not sold to us by the city?

VI. Appointments.

1. Chairman of P&Z was first which was irrelevant as he was absent from previous P&Z and everything he would discuss was passsed during consent agenda.

2. P&Z chairman again, only this time as a normal person (Well, . He wants the city to relax (I think) or change the ordinance regarding signs that point to things like new homes being built in subdivisions to allow four per new subdivision and not one for each developer in each new subdivision and existing subdivisions and other real estate type signs would not be included unless they are and would only be displayed from Friday night to Sunday night and would be big and metal and simple and straightforward and cheap signs would not be allowed like those use for garage sales and such.

City will investigate.

3. Speed Fab almost done with the fire stations. #3 was vandalized by kids, but no one saw them, but it was surely kids because what and how it was vandalized could only have been done by kids.

VII. Public Hearings.

1. Big Shed Guy is back.

Glen wanted to know if he consulted with his HOA.

Mr LaCroix explained that find finding out if people consulted with their HOA ain't his business. (OK?!?)

Interestingly, Mayor Cecil closed the public hearing before hearing from the applicant (His representative in the case). First time I'd seen that. (Illuminati?)

Whatever, Big Shed will be built, so says the council 7-0.

2. Some guy wants a fence bigger'n what's in the ordinance. City staff has no problem. Mayor Cecil called and talked to applicant, then opened public hearing. Ok'd 7-0

3. City blah blah tax exempt blah blah something about refinancing or something. 7-0 (Action item #5 included in this)

VIII. Action Items.

2. More parking needed at the Harbor. Rob Whittle the developer would like (probably or definitely?) the city to provide or pay for more parking spaces or alternatives. The attendance at the Concerts by the Lake is overwhelming the parking available to customers of the harbor. Can the co-owners please find somewhere else for their customers to park? It's also been hurting some of the businesses at the Harbor for Thursday night business. Some have better nights though.

Averaging 4500 a night this year (5000 was highest attendance).

Cliff makes a great point that the city has spent plenty money on the harbor and cannot support spending more.

Other options:

1. Park and ride at Lake Pointe Church. $800 a night to move 160 per hour, about 320 per night.
2. Move concerts to Tuesdays.
3. Park on Summer Lee, then jaywalk across the street to the show. (Get cops to patrol and ticket jaywalkers! Cha-ching!)
4. Rob Whittle builds a parking garage (my suggestion).

7-0 gets staff to look into it.

1. Cliff wants better a record of executive sessions like a recording or at least better notes. That way if they ever have to reference in the future the ongoings at an executive session, they can get exact info.

Glen worried about haxxorz getting the audio.
Matt flat out opposed.
Margo wanted to know what other cities do.
Cliff did his homework (as always) and believes this is doable. I did a little, too and found from the open records act available at the Texas Attorney General's website:

§ 551.103. Certified Agenda or Tape Recording Required
(a) A governmental body shall either keep a certified agenda or make a tape recording of the
proceedings of each closed meeting, except for a private consultation permitted under Section
(§ 551.071. Consultation With Attorney; Closed Meeting
A governmental body may not conduct a private consultation with its attorney except:
(1) when the governmental body seeks the advice of its attorney about:
(A) pending or contemplated litigation; or
(B) a settlement offer; or
(2) on a matter in which the duty of the attorney to the governmental body under the Texas
Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of Texas clearly conflicts
with this chapter.)

§ 551.104. Certified Agenda or Tape; Preservation; Disclosure
(a) A governmental body shall preserve the certified agenda or tape recording of a closed meeting for at least two years after the date of the meeting. If an action involving the meeting is brought within that period, the governmental body shall preserve the certified agenda or tape while the action is pending.

Recording sounds reasonable and legal.

6-1 keeps staff looking into it?

3. Glen: Memba that hippy kid who wanted to tear it up on his scooter but couldn't?

The Youth Advisory Council heard the plea and these are their recommendations regarding youths on motor scooters (not the real ones):

-No age restrictions
-No required insurance(bicyclists don't have)
-Limit from 30 minutes after dawn to 30 minutes before dusk
-25 mph max
-No flag (bicyclists also don't have)
-Follow all traffic laws that bicyclists follow

No action at this time.

4. Lots of subcommittees. Some think that subcommittees are the "bomb" and others would like to some some "kicked to the curb".

Truth is, I wrote tons of notes during this discussion which seemed to go on for days. I attempted to write about it, but the option arose to get hit in the face with a cast iron skillet. I chose the more pleasant option and end with a summary:

Some subcommittees got killed, others didn't.

6. "Discuss and consider approval of a resolution directing publication of a notice of intent to issue Certificates of Obligation, resolving other matters relating to the subject and take any action necessary." (Getting late, then and now)

7. Chief Moeller wants 3 retired cop cars available to the Rockwall Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association (CPAAA) that can be used during their volunteer duties. Parades and such?
No, citizen patrols. Also, he would like funds for a special camera than can be used on the cars whcih automatically reads license plates and checks the plates to a registry of stolen vehicles.

My 4th amendment-sense is tingling! But, I was informed by a top SMU law student that it has been determined that "a) you have no expectation of privacy for something you display in public and b) the search of information about a license plate does not rise to the level of searching house, person, papers, car."

I feel much better now. Besides, you know what they say, "If you don't have anyting to hide, you don't have anyting to worry about!"

Liberty sucks anyway.

IX. City Manager's Report.

1. Fire Chief said some things. Then we found out that city will have enough sales tax revenue to meet budget, but collected fees won't. Time for a rate hike!

Here's me unsuccessfully trying to lift the governor's wallet:

Attention Texas Rangers and/or DPS. The preceding statement is 100% untrue and is intended as a humorous excuse for such a lousy picture. At no time was the governor's wallet in any danger of being "lifted".

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Planning and Zoning Meeting 30 June

City Council Lite!

My first visit to the a meeting of the Planning and Zoning comission.

Consent Agenda.

3. Approved some road right of way somewhere.

4. Approved (I think) a proposal to build a hotel on the empty land between Burger King and Popeye's. I learned that Vigor Way was a private road, not a public road. The owners of the road cannot prevent people from using it, though.

Discussion Items.

5. Some guy wants to put a home on 3 lots. DIdn't show up, no discussion. Will be a public hearing in 2 weeks.

6. Lady needs an SUP to operate a Hair Salon. It has been in operation, but was only recently noticed by building inspections that it was in business. The building inspector wasn't sure whether or not everything was ok, and referred her to the P&Z Commission. "Hair Salons" are required to have 1 parking space per 250 sqft. That's the real issue, she wasn't being sneaky, just didn't know the rule, and doesn't quite meet the requirement.

Moves to public hearing I think.

7. Next guy wants to put up solar panels on his house. City has no rules or requirements for such things. "Utility Installation, Other Than Listed" is the official term used as a catch-all for things the city doesn't know what to do with. They don't know exactly what to do, just that they must do something!

Earl Milner wanted to know what if the next owner doesn't want solar panels!!!! How can they be removed without any damage to the house??? He's a real estate guy and sometimes people don't even want pools, yet some houses have pools!!! How can we prevent current owners from making the fatal mistake of installing something some non-existent future buyer may not want??? And what about noise?? How much noise do solar panels make?!?

Lynn Davis was concerned about the glare.

Michael Hunter was concerned that existing trees could grow bigger and block the sun! Are the neighbors OK with this? (The panels, not the trees. Only an appointed or elected official would worry about the tree thing.)

Phillip Herbst didn't even see the guy's roof when he drove by! (Mr Herbst seemed to be the only one who has really done any footwork and independent investigating. On this and other issues.)

Moves to public hearing.

9. The zoning of Lake Rockwall Estates. Joy.

Was it implied by staff that there are people "with plans to build" in LRE and the city must act quickly to ensure those plans are enacted? Muliti-family plans maybe? Not specified.

The process and schedule was discussed. Does appear the city has backed off a little to flat-out zoning Area 2 as Multi-family/Mixed-use/Whatever. Both sides will be zoned Single Family, but Area 2 will have a process whereby an SUP can be issued for multi-family dwellings.

There are going to be some townhall meeting "meet and greets" to give residents an opportunity to ask questions and get input from staff about the future of LRE. Commissioners don't need to attend. The city staff will brief them on the goings on of the meetings. (Maybe one or two could go). Filtered info is always better than direct.

July 23 - Town hall Meeting (City Hall, I think)
July 28 - P&Z Work Session (City Hall)
July 30 - "Meet and Greet" (LRE Community Center)
August 6 - "Meet and Greet" (LRE Community Center)
August 11 - P&Z Public Hearing (City Hall)
September 8 - City Council Public Hearing, 1st reading (City Hall)
September 11 - City Council, 2nd reading (City Hall)

Some building standards and special considerations regarding construction and fences are covered, not of it really infuriating.

Mr Milner did remind the city that LRE will always be a sanctuary for the lowest of the low incomes and that the neighborhood will never be "upscale". Shouldn't considerations for even lower standards be instituted? He also wanted to make sure that in 4-5 years, the city won't be ashamed of the neighborhood AGAIN. (Emphasis mine) He would also like to see the prevention of multiple multi-family dwellings (side-by-side). Mr LaCroix says the city has to be careful of the wordings, as it may be to exclusionary for multi-family. Mr Milner then suggested that city may be making it too hard (via the SUP) for multi-family developers to come in and build, can't the city make it easier for the builders? Not something I would expect a real estate guy to say, but there ya go.

Phillip Herbst offers the voice of reason in the sea of insanity: Why is the city introducing multi-family to an otherwise already over-crowded are? Mr LaCroix explained the city already has triplexes built, and areas zoned for similar. I think that answered Mr Herbst's question. (Mr Herbst did mention "driving through" the neighborhood. Sigh.)

And what would a discussion of Lake Rockwall Estates be complete without someone making a classist (and classless), racist comment about the citizens of Lake Rockwall Estates:

Lynn Davis: How can we get THOSE PEOPLE to take more pride in their neighborhood. I am guessing Ms Davis has "pride", but that's as far as I will speculate.