Monday, August 31, 2009

Aw Jeez, not this [expletive deleted] again!

I said it before: What the citizens of the Zoo want is irrelevant.

Certain council members and certain city staffers are STILL PUSHING MULTIFAMILY in Lake Rockwall.

Despite the 3 town halls, where there was not only opposition, but ZERO support of multifamily from the residents.

Despite the fact that DEED RESTRICTIONS PROHIBIT multifamily.

Despite the INDISPUTABLE MATHEMATICAL LOGIC that it will increase population density.

Despite the consequence of increased population density FURTHER DETERIORATING the neglected roads and water system (which cost about 3x times that of city provided water).

There are many in the city with not just a low opinion of LRE, but I believe have real contempt for people who don't fit into a mold that certain council members and certain city staffers have decided apply to citizens of Rockwall.

Too bad my neighbors weren't born wealthy and/or white. Maybe then, their opinions would be valid.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Zoo in the News!

[EDIT: AUGUST 26, 2008 10:48pm.

Mr Abshire has referenced my blog on his blog referencing his article that I referenced here on my blog. This could go on for years!
<--Clicky click Thanks, Mr Abshire!]

From Dallas Morning News August 24.

By RICHARD ABSHIRE / The Dallas Morning News

Six months after the city of Rockwall decided to annex a cluster of mostly neglected mobile homes and aging houses, some residents say life isn't much different yet. [My home built 1984, my other neighbors: late 1990's (x2) mid 80's (x2) and 2001 (x1). All houses are "aging".]

"Things haven't really changed that much, maybe because it just started," said Luis Guxman, a longtime resident of Lake Rockwall Estates. [Plan was in the works for 3 years prior to annexation, hardly "just started".]

The City Council voted 6-1 in February to annex the 335-acre subdivision, which has had problems for years with overgrown lots and substandard housing. [Mark Russo voted against.]

"It was deteriorating, and it would only be worse if we waited," council member David Sweet said. [Neighborhood has been improving on both sides foir at least 10 years I have lived here.]

The approximately 2,800 residents were already using the city's roads and schools, he said, so annexation made sense. [1. The schools are not the city's: schools belong to RISD which included LRE. 2. Every major road in Rockwall is a state road, which means everyone in LRE paid to use just like "real" citizen."]

Sweet defended the city's course of action since the annexation."It's a process," he said. "We do have a plan." [In that case, we feel better.]

The city is taking an educational rather than a punitive approach to code enforcement. [Lesson 1: do it or face a punitive action.]

"On the owner-occupied properties, they are getting it," he said, though absentee owners continue to be a problem. [If only we could lien on them, I mean lean on them.]

Jim Day, a resident for more than 30 years, said that in the past, absentee landlords had rented houses and trailers that were overcrowded. [If only the landlords had put in multi-family, those reduce overcrowding according to the city!]

"There were two little frame houses over there, and they had enough people in them to make two soccer teams," he said. "I know because my son used to play with them." [And now he has no one to play soccer with.]

Some in the neighborhood of lake houses and trailers suspected the annexation was a land grab by the city, but supporters hoped the area would be cleaned up. [The city would never force one private land owner to give up his property for another private citizen to develop and make money.]

After the council approved a three-year annexation plan for the 896-lot development in 2006, more than 200 overgrown lots were cleared and about 400 stray animals rounded up. Junk vehicles and abandoned structures also were removed. [Fyi, a 1954 Chevy truck in perfect condition, but not running is considered "junk"]

Residents also had hoped that water rates and problems with flooding would be improved. [95% of my neighbors were a bunch of suckers.]

"We were hoping that when they took over out here they would do something about the water," Guxman said. [Part of that 95%]

High water bills from the subdivision's private supplier are a common complaint. [The #1 complaint that all the residents who supported annexation believed would be solved quickly.]

Day said he pays from $150 to $175 a month, while friends who live across the road and get city water pay $40 on average. [$145-155 at my house.]

Sweet said the city does hope to take over the water system. [Hope? Where have I heard that before? (link)]

"We'd love to be in a position to control water services and rates," he said. [In other words: the city does not have the finances to do so, nor did the city prior to annexation. About $20,000,000 needed to take over the water.]

Annexation opponents had worried that the subdivision would become a financial drain. [No financial drain if nothing is done to address the major issues of water service, roads, and storm drainage. Win-win!!]

But Sweet pointed out that in the proposed budget for next year, there is no increase in tax rates and no cuts in services or personnel. [Nor increase for roads, storm drainage or water service?]

"We're not going to increase taxes," Sweet said. [Yipee.]

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rockwall City Council 17 August

The happiness of society is the end of government. - John Adams

Action Item 2:

District Attorney Kenda Culpepper needs some help prosecuting drunks! She wants the city to loan out the services of our municipal judge in issuing warrants to draw blood from suspecting drunk drivers. Presbyterian and Lake Pointe hospitals will be doing the blood draws. All local police agencies are on board.

Consent Agenda.

1 and 8 pulled.

Item 8: City's ETJ moving north into Collin County. Matt opposed as it eventually the city will annex the ETJ and put part of Rockwall into another county.


1. New P&Z chair Michael Hunter presented a couple things from last weeks meeting: HCA portable buildings and Zoning of the Zoo.

2. Flood plain. Summary: Lady bought a house in 2006, in 2008 she went to refinance and discovered the property was now considered flood plain. Built in 1984, re-surveyed by the city and FEMA in 2006 (Ongoing prior, but the 2006 study is the one that affected this house.) After much effort and expense she was able to get the structure certified out of the flood plain to lower insurance.

Then for the next hour all the intricacies of flood plain mapping were discussed.

City engineer Chuck Todd stated "several hundred" were affected by the changes.

David Sweet and Matt Scott thought the city should have done a better job informing those who would be affected by the changes. And by better, I think they mean "a".

Basically, it seems if you live near a creek, pond or lake, you were probably affected.

If only the city had enacted "green" initiatives sooner!

3 and 4. Bond issuance stuff. Rockwall has good credit. A motion was made and passed (but I don't really think they know what the vote was about!)

[Councilman Russo for some reason started playing hide and seek under his desk. Not sure who was "it".]

5. Fella needs to extend his 212 agreement with city (forgot to file and now has to beg.) Passes 6-1 (Matt opposed)

Then for some inexplicable reason, Mayor Cecil skipped the public hearing item and moved into action items, confusing many.

Action Items.

1. Destruction of "dangerous property" in LRE. Land owner cannot afford to repair or demolish the structure himself, and is willing to allow the city to do so, after which a lien will be put on the property to recover the money once sold. Seems to me the owner shoulda sold the land, cuz now if he sells it, he'll be out $3k!

Of course, if he had put a plastic yellow fence (as was done on a burned up home off 552) instead of relying on a chain link fence to keep people out, that would have been ok!

Mayor Cecil realizes his mistake and goes back to public hearing item.

1. Heritage Christian Academy SUP thingy (see previous CP&Z posts.)

Margo had questions about fire safety. Chief Poindexter said the portables are safe, do get inspections, and are the same as those used by the PUBLIC schools.

David made a motion to approve for 1 year only, so that the school can go through the laborious process again next year.

Glen made note that he would like to see the portable "gone from the landscape". Not sure if he included the public school's portables in that.

The school needs $700,000 to finish out a building that would replace the need for the portables.

No one on the council volunteered to help.

3. Build a new radio tower for city use. Margo wants it pretty.

4. HOA Subcommittee again again. It was disolved 7-0. Then there was talk of forming another one. Some folks were named to be on the council subcommittee and a citizens committee.

"Naming people to a committee out of executive session?", I proclaimed in my head.

"Naming people to a committee out of executive session?", Mayor Cecil proclaimed .5 seconds after my thought!

The new committee will form some rules the new HOA's could adopt to have continuity in rules amongst HOA's.

If only there were some sort of council in the city that could create uniform rules that could be used by all citizens without the need for some smaller governing body to dictate behavior.

6. Apparently fence permit laws aren't restrictive enough. Here's the rule regarding permits:

Sec. 6-125. Permit required; applications; fees.

No fence shall be constructed within the city without the owner or person in control of such premises, or his agent or contractor, having secured a permit therefore from the building official of the city. Applications shall be made and a permit issued on forms promulgated by the code official for such purpose. The fees for such permits shall be as established by resolution of the city.

You don't need a permit to fix your fence (at least according to what I read) but the need must exist!

Imagine! People just going out and fixing their fences without an unqualified government agent to oversee the project!

City staff will keep looking into the issue, or as Cliff states: more clarity needed. (To me, when an elected official says "more clarity", I always hear "greater role".)

6. David Sweet and Matt Scott don't like people parking on grass in front of homes. I suggest they don't do it, then.

Mr Scott believes if you have a driveway, you should use it: "That's what it's for." (I wonder if we will soon start looking at people who use garages as storage rooms and not used for cars.)

Also, when Mr Farris made an objection, noting that some may park in the yard to wash a vehicle, Mr Scott responded that no one does that! It would kill the grass! (I believe I heard once that Mr Farris went to Bryan Adams HS. I too lived near BA for a couple years and can attest to the fact that people do wash their cars in grass. As a kid in Garland we were forbidden from washing cars on the driveway and always did so in the grass. If only it were true it killed the grass and I hated mowing the lawn, which was always so lush and green, especially the place where we washed!)

And this is not directed at Lake Rockwall Estates, because Mr Scott made a point to say this is not directed at Lake Rockwall Estates.

"There is no reason for this!"

And when objections were raised by other council members: "We don't want to penalize folks with legitimate issues [for parking in the grass]."

I always like it when a government body gets to decided what is "legitimate."

Mr Sevier also pointed out that he "hated" cars parking in the grass, to which I suggest he also not do.

Mayor Cecil said that if there is an ordinance, it must be enforceable (which this would be hard to do.)

Regarding enforcement, the "dog tethering" issue was mentioned as another that would be hard to enforce, and therefore no ordinance against tethering exists in the city. I found this last week in the animal control ordinances:

(e) Tying dogs. It shall be unlawful for any person to tie or tether a dog to a stationary object for a period of time or in a location so as to create an unhealthy situation for the animal or a potentially dangerous situation for a pedestrian as determined by the supervisor of animal control.

The movement to control parking behavior morphed into just banning parking on the grass in the front yard of a home. Which staff will look into again.

Amazing after 150+ years since founding, that now it's a problem.

Some other points:

-I left city hall and went down Storrs to Clark. 5 homes had cars parked in grass (culvert) in the front yard.
-All of the objections (which were called rare) I could point to from the short drive from the corner of Texas and Tubbs to my house on Perch.
-Is the grass culvert "front yard"? (I have to mow it.)

This is just a pet peeve that a couple council members have and are now excersing powers to change behavior they do not approve. Amazing to me how concepts like liberty and freedom are so championed by the people when it comes to federal and state issues, but in small local issues, freedom and liberty are ignored or even ridiculed by those in power.

Freedom isn't doing what you want. It's others doing thing you don't like.

Dr. Thomas Sowell has an excellent column about this from a few months ago.

This also reminded me about a lady celebrating her 100th birthday a couple years ago. When asked her secret for long life she responded, "I spent the first 50 years minding my own business, and the last 50 staying out of other people's business."

Get over yourselves.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Central Planning and Zoning 11 August

Four new commissioners!

Plus new chairman, Michael Hunter, and vice chairman, Phillip Herbst.

Basically only two things going on this time.

Mr Hunter started the public hearing by noting that quite a few people showed up to speak, and would like them not to repeat what others say over and over and over.

So the dynamic oration begins:

Public Hearing #1 concerns Heritage Christian Academy wanting an extension on an SUP for some portables they use.

Mr Herbst started by wanting to know the long range plans of the school regarding finishing out an exiting permanent structure.

1st Item: HCA doesn't have a lot of money. Nor the power to threaten by force the public at large for educational funding.

More from Herbst:

How long can city keep issuing SUP's?
The city can't do this forever!

Kristen Minth wanted to klnow the time frame for making the portable look "nice".

Mr Buchanan would like the SUP to end when the finish out is completed.

Mr Herbst noted the neighbors were fine with the portables. Like the city cares what only the people affected by an issue care. There ARE lots of people who don't even know the portables are on the property and cannot be seen from the road or from any properties adjacent. Thanks goodness the city worries about those folks!

Connie Jackson would like to skirting on the portable to keep kids from going under the building. (I guess the assumption is the staff at HCA is kinda new at the whole "watching kids" thing and ain't smart enough to keep their students safe without city help.)

Also, she added that she knows the economy is tough, but in 3 years the city will demand to know why the school is still using portables!

Buchanan: Repeated what everyone else just said.

Minth: Repeated what everyone else said.

Didn't they listen to what Mr Hunter said at the beginning?

(All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others - George Orwell, Animal Farm)

Summary of HCA's comments: HCA doesn't have the $600,000 to finish out the building.

Side note - Don't Rockwall PUBLIC schools use portables? I know I had several classes in portables when I went to school here.

2nd item: The Zoo! Zoning for Lake Rocwkall Estates! (I can almost taste the legitimacy of my citizenship!)

Summary of staff:

In English: "Does anyone here not speak English?"

There are stick built, manufactured, and quite a few multifamily homes in LRE.
"Many" citizens spoke against multifamily being allowed.
Subcommittee and task force recommended a mix of types of housing.
The laws of mathematics do not apply.


Some guy says his house is in the flood plain, will he have to leave?


The Lady of Lake: "Now that I'm iun the city I see you don't allow development in the floodplain which really screwed up my plan to make phat loot developing it after getting annexed which I supported!!! Maybe city wants a park (hint hint)?"

James Merkel pointed out that deed restrictions forbid multifamily. (City is under no obligation to honor deed restrictions.) He opposes multifamily.

All others who spoke opposed multifamily.

(There was lively debate and excellent points made by commission. As well of lots and lots of repeating what had been said.)

In the end Mr Herbst made the motion to approve the zoning change, but to omit the multifamily. (few other changes, but no anger inducing changes)

Passes 7-0. So the P&Z agrees with the citizens. No one living in LRE wants multifamily.

Now all that's left is council approval. (E.g. it ain't over.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Rockwall City Council 03 August

Quick night, 2nd in a row, too. I wonder why.

III. Proclamations

1. City Attorney Pete Eckert and Former Councilman Bob Cotti present the city with a picture of the U.S.S. Rockwall. Attack Transport that saw action in WWII.

A veteran of WWII and former sailor aboard the Rockwall, Dr Jordan (hope that's right) was present and told a story of how he saved a man's life duirng operations in the Pacific Theater.

Accepting the picture were the mayors and city managers of Rockwall and Heath.

A photo of the U.S.S. Heath was unavailable.

2. Kiawnis from Texas and Oklahoma are in town for a regional convention. Word has it the Rotarians are out looking to "rough up" any Kiwanis walking alone.

IV. Open Forum.

1. Fella who talked really needed an appointment and got it!

V. Consent Agenda.

Passed unanimously, nothing pulled.

VI. Appointments.

1. Bill Bricker talked about the P&Z's recommendations regarding the PD's (see previous post, I refuse to revisit here - too painful)

3. Speed Fab Crete and the Fire Stations.

#3 done, # 4 Almost there. (Stay on target)

2. Dude needs and extension of his 212 agreement after missing the deadline for mailing the request.

VII. Action Items.

3 moved to next meeting as Matt Scott absent, again:

6. HOA Subcommitee talk.

8. Fence ordinance talk.

9. "Parking on unimproved surfaces" talk.

1. Some money coming back to city from fire station project, and some of that is going back out "in the interest of fairness" to the architectural firm who forgot to add it to the contract.

I THINK $330k was returned, and then somewhere between $200k and $75k was give to the architect (they sure make it hard to understand when they are spending our money.)

2. Something about money or bonds or taxes.

3. Similar to 2, money stuff. Read it on the agenda if you want.

4. More of our money allocated to dedication plaques for the new fire stations: $8452.80 for 4 signs.

5. Fire Chief wants to swap some money in the fire station equipment funding for "Bunker Washing Gear" and "SCBA Filling Machines" in lieu of vehicle exhaust systems (not the fire truck mufflers, CO exhaust inside the bays).

7. Grand opening dates for fire stations discussed. Both will be on same day, probably in October or November. Donuts at 10a at #3 and cookies at 4p for #4 (same day).

10. If you got some "Weekend Development Directional Signs" you have been itching to use, now is your chance! But only from Friday evening to Sunday evening.

11. City of Rockwall in the movie biz discussion. This excites Mark Russo most of all. (Maybe awaiting his big break!)

12. Something about Atmos Energy (last item, no one cares, passes quickly)

VIII. City Managers Report(s).

I was going to go into great detail of all things discussed, but then I saw a frog in my garden this evening. Had to choose between report and frog picture, I chose the more interesting:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Central Planning and Zoning 28 July

All good things must come to an end. Alas, the central planning & zoning commission is not coming to an end.

Two new commissioners were introduced: Tony Hayes (who mentioned "driving around" the Zoo in an informal chat with me before the meeting) and Kristen Minth (someone I've known for nearly 30 years).

I hope they're better than the last. /crosses fingers

Action Items.

3. Discussion of some PD's. Basically, PD's are reviewed every couple years and decisions are made whether or not changes need to be made to those PD's.

The one of most interest to the commission and owner, are PD's 26 and 31. A fella owns the properties governed by these PD's and the city may or may not want to consider if it is or isn't neccessary to change the PD's or possibly leave well enough alone at least until later or maybe not.

The properties are right about where the John King Bypass is overpassing I-30. The owner of the land doesn't know what the state is going to do and how it will affect his property, and jsut wants the city to keep the PD as is until the overpass is finished. Sounds reasonable (at least to me). But reason and commissions go together like oil and jelly.

Outgoing (thank G-d) chairman Bricker, feels something must be done, because it must. Meddling is his talent and meddle he must! He even knows what's in the best interest financially for the owner of the land!

As is, the owner has the flexibility to keep making money with the current use. A zoning change would not only limit what could be done on the property, but would also prevent it's current use under cetrain circumstances which I won't go into here, but feel free to contact the city about the rules regarding re-zoning.

The recommendation is to re-review in 24 months.

4. Heritage Christian Academy needs to renew it's SUP for some portable buildings.

Commissioner Hunter wanted to know if there were plans for a permanent structure to replace the portables. He can't make a decision without knowing the school's long range plans. Portables = ugly, permanent = pretty.

Outgoing (not fast enough) commissioner Milner noted that it was cheaper to have portable buildings than to build a permanent structure.

Commssioner Buchanan wanted to know why the school is using [exisitng] portable buildings instead of [expensively] finishing out an unfinished 2nd floor of the permanent structure [during a recession]. [emphasis added].

Outgoing (almost there) chairman Bricker opposes the portables because the only reason the private school uses portables is to lower operating costs and make more money!!!

But, he notes it's perfectly ok for public schools to use portables to lower operating costs and make more robots!!!

5. Replatting of some land in front of Costco, I love you.

6. Replatting of SE corner of Quail Run and 205 that will be used for medical offices. I am just sure the council will oppose this for not being near the medical corridor and next to the hospital.

Then Bricker said somethings that I won't type as it makes my head hurt. Instead I'll put this quote from Lewis Black which is more sensible (actually overheard by Mr Black in an IHOP):

"If it weren’t for my horse, I wouldn’t have spent that year in college."

7. Replatting of some lots by the hospital.

8. Lake Rockwall rezoning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In the not too distant future, we will be that much closer to being "real" citizens! (I think we're 65.6% citizen right now. Still waiting for that city limit sign to move...)

Robert LaCroix presented the citizen input fom the poorly advertised, poorly attended first "town hall":

- Concerns about infrastructure
- Opposition to multi-family (not one citizen supported MF)
- Density concerns
- Added traffic (from density)

Now here is something interesting I learned, even with multi-family, there will be no increased density! Check it:

1. A double wide on a double lot has 2 people living in it. (Just an example). That's 2 people on 10,000sqft, or one person per 5,000 sqft.
2. Remove the double wide and add a multi family:
a. A duplex on the same two lots with 2 in each unit equals 4 people on 7,500 (or it is 7,000 now?). That's one person per 1,875sqft.
b. Triplex, 6 people on 10,000sqft or one person per 1,667sqft.
c. Quadplex, 8 people on 10,000sqft, or one person per 1,250sqft.
3. See? Besides, taking the same double lot lot and putting in 2 single family homes, with 2 in each unit, equals one person per 2,500sqft!

No density increase!

Bricker: multi-family will raise the value of the neighborhood and could raise the standard of the neighborhood.

Hunter agrees.

Milner agrees. And uses "those people" in a sentence. Developers will come in to make money and will do so by building the bestest duplexes EVAR! Multi-family is a "positive". It attracts poor people to the neighborhood and gives them an opportunity to "get their feet on the ground." Poor people need a place to come. Anything the city does will be an improvement to LRE. 10-20 years people will be praying in the direction of LRE because of how awesome it will be!!!

Paraphrased comment of Mr Milner :


If my parents didn't read this, I might have something to say about that comment.

Also, Milner wanted to know if the one fire hydrant in Area 2 affects the city's insurance rating.

Bricker then continued to express his love of multi-family. Multi-family will increase the value of the homes out here already. (Now, if that's true, why doesn't he and others push for multi-family next door to their house? If that's the case, logically the homes on Southhampton and Southwood
must be the most valuable pieces of real estate in all of Rockwall!

Bricker also noted that no one will build a "nice" home out in LRE anyway. Here's a proof:

1. No one will build a "nice" home in LRE
2. Anything built in LRE will not be "nice".
3. A duplex is an "anything".
4. Therefore, a duplex is not "nice" if built in LRE.

Thanks for making a great point, Bricker.


Milner, with the help of William Henry Harrison's speechwriter, bids farewell.

Bricker, also his last meeting, made several points, mentioned how he valued public opinion [except those dummies in LRE].

There was then discussion about how great the city forced Costco (I love you) to look.

What a legacy.

Mr Door, meet Mr Ass.