Friday, December 31, 2010

Rockwall City Council 20 December

Last meeting of the year and they didn't waste anytime screwing over the taxpayers!

Few actions from Backroom Dealings aka "Executive Session".

- Development agreement with Presbyterian Hospital. Passed 7-0

-Something about park projects. Passed 7-0

-From the minutes: "Councilmember Scott made a motion authorize the city manager to execute
development agreements with Harbor Heights Investors subject to resolving the insurance questions, confirming the legal descriptions of the properties involved and approval of the agreements as to legal form." Passed 6-1, Councilman Sevier opposed.

This was regarding PD-32, part of the failed (regardless of what some clueless morons say) Harbor Project. This motion was to move ahead and spend $9,000,000 to put in infrastructure for a new speculative office building.

What you say? When did we start absorbing costs for developers? New to me, too. It is far beyond normal and customary practice for the city to pay for costs that are part of normal commercial development.

There are the defenders of this action (which was a deliberately ambiguous motion if you remember) who will say this will do "this" or "that" and bring in trillions of dollars to Rockwall and this will help the Harbor (why would it need help it it wasn't a failure as some state?) If you recall further the reason for the taxpayer "investment" into PD-32 was to increase "foot traffic" from new residents in homes and apartments...

Anyway what's really going on is political favoring and backroom deals at the expense of the taxpayer. Nothing is being discussed openly or honestly. No one will know anything about it until this part of the harbor fails and we'll be sitting on even more millions upon millions of debt.

Merry Christmas from the City of Rockwall.

Only Councilman Sevier cast the honest vote. The rest gave the proverbial middle finger, albeit secretly, to the rest of us.

III. Consent Agenda.

Councilman Scott pulled items 2,3,6.

Remaining items passed 7-0.

Items 2 and 3 regarded minutes.

Item 6 was Mr Scott's traffic light project at Ralph Hall and 3097. $31,200 for the project, not to mention the destruction of all the foliage. Reason pulled 12% - talk about the project, 78% - grandstand for the audience.

IV Appointments.

1. Planning and Zoning Chairman. Quite a few items, nothing reaching national security level, so I won't detail.

VIII. Action Items.

3. City renaming a portion of FM 3549 to Stoghill Rd. Sounds easy, but it was apparantly Grandstand Night at the Apollo, so Mr Sweet, Mr Scott, and Mr Russo blathered on for 20 minutes about how easy a decision it was to make renaming a street. Not quite as easy as screwing over the taxpayers for $9 million, but still pretty easy.

6. Renaming Caruth Lake to Raymond Cameron Lake. Mr Cameron has been a long time resident of Rockwall and contributed much to the city.

Also, as Councilman Scott noted, the city got involved in litigation with the Caruth family which "caused a lot of heartache" a short time ago, so renaming the lake was a great opportunity to show others what happens if you mess with the city. Watch out, Mr Hubbard.

IV. Appointments.

2. Leadership Rockwall is going to build a Rockwall County dog park at Harry Myers. It was pProposed that it won't cost the city anything to build or maintain for one year. City will resume maintenance (the Parks Dept already does maintain the area in question) after the first year of operation.

Mr Russo commended the project and expressed how this has been a "need" for Rockwall.

(Quick question, does any politician really know the difference between a "need" and a "want?)

No money has been raised (around $11,000 needed), but there are many companies that have pledged support.

Few comments from various council including one jerky response from Mr Scott to Mr Sevier's comments about a previous motion from Mr Sevier to keep dogs out of the Kids Zone at Harry Myers.

The Mayor noted that it was a county project, but all contributions from governmental entities were from the city of Rockwall.

The answer was basically that Rockwall as the only city with any means.

Acceptance of project passed 7-0.

3. Presentation of City's Strategic Business Plan.

Truthfully, the girl who did the presentation was nice and professional, but the content was drier than a klejner.

V. Public Hearing Items.

1. Lady wants to open a B&B in one bedroom at her house.

-Would only operate Friday nights and Saturday nights
-She met all requirements for the SUP
-SUP would be reviewed in 6 months (basically, giving her a trial run)

Caused a lot of debate and discussion, but when it came down to asking the neighbors' opinion (via 14 or so mailed inquiries), 5 supported (all on her cul-du-sac), 3 opposed (actually 4 opposed, but ANONYMOUS RESPONSES ARE NOT CONSIDERED UNLESS THEY ARE MENTIONED DURING DELIBERATION THEREBY SKEWING THE OBJECTIVITY OF THE DISCUSSION).

The 3 opposition came from one residence on another street and 2 from Lake Pointe Church (2 of the churches soccer fields were in the notification zone).

Mathematically speaking 5 for, 2 against. And the non responses are tacit acceptance, therefore affirmative votes. Not that anyone on council cares enough to know that.

Not quite the 50% opposition Mr Scott and Mr Sweet kept espousing, but lawyers don't need math and muffins always come in 12's, so math ain't a daily brain battler for these two.

In the end the neighbors' opinion was not considered and Mr Scott didn't believe anyone would stay in a B&B near a Target and Home Depot and gave several other subjective reasons why he opposed.

Mr Sweet concurred with Mr Scott by taking out a small tape recorder and just before playing back into the microphone what Mr Scott finished saying seconds before He said, "And my personal opinion of this is: "

Mr Russo asked from whom the anonymous opposition came.

Mayor Pro Tem Farris and Councilmember Nielsen were the only ones who wanted to give the chance to see how it would play for the next 6 months. Failed 5-2.

2. Rezoning of some land from Ag to Commercial. Continued to January 18th.

3. Guy wants to open a bail bond place and needs an SUP. Passed 7-0.

4. New McDonald's by Tom Thumb needs drive-thru (will be a double drive-thru) approval. Got it 7-0.

VI. Site Plans/Plats.

1. New bank going in by Home Depot doesn't meet the masonry standard of monotony. This time the masonry standard wasn't important and the exception was granted 7-0.

(Mr Scott left at this point.)

VII. Action Items.

1. Sign variance for new JoAnn store. Passed 6-0.

2. Annexation item postponed to January 18th.

4. Contract for vet to fix animals at the animal clinic. Passed 6-0.

5. No idea, something vague about Chandler's Landing. Probably something about spending a was of taxpayers money. Passed 6-0.

7. State law forcing the city to change the employee benefits due to population change. Passed 6-0.

8. Big damned electronic sign to let folks who drive passed the sign know when community events are happening.

Gonna cost somewhere between $40k and $100k and no one can agree where to put it.

I've got a suggestion where to put it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rockwall City Council 6 December

Actions from Executive Committee.

Reappointed a bunch of cronies to various boards.

III. Proclamations.

1. Council recognized city staff that completed "Rockwall University"; staff members spend time learning about other departments. Upon completion they get knowledge, a certificate, and money, amount not disclosed.

VI. Open Forum.


V. Consent Agenda.

Councilman Sevier pulled #7, rest approved 7-0.

7. Councilman Sevier asked to postpone the vote to next meeting for the owner of land in conjunction with a 212 agreement would have time to fill out paperwork.

Councilman Scott verbosely opposed the plan.

VI. Appointments.

1. P&Z Chairman Herbst presented the P&Z's decision on a new business at the bankrupt Harbor project. Paradise Burger had presented plans for a metal canopy that didn't look the same once built. P&Z didn't like the new roof "look", and claimed it didn't "fit" the Harbor. (If it were a closed-down business, it would definitely "fit.")

Want Paradise Burger to change the canopy from patchwork to uniform. Rockwall loves monotony.

2. Moved to next council meeting.

3. Judge Cathy Penn presented the yearly report for the municipal court.

-17,000 cases had gone through court at the end of the fiscal year (Aug 31, 2010).
-Mostly traffic violations.
-17% were state code offenses.

VII. Site Plans/Plats.

1. Paradise Burger from above.


-Exceeds the 10% maximum of non-masonry material standard.
-Built canopy different from presented plan
-P&Z ok with metal roof, but not look of "rusty" panels.

The representative of Paradise Burger explained that the plan didn't show the 2D vs 3D difference. They are also trying to create a more relaxed atmosphere at the Harbor to attract more patrons. (Note to burger guy, attractive stores offering goods that people want will not positively affect patronage at the Harbor. According to the council, "foot traffic" from apartments they want built nearby is the only remedy.)

Mayor Pro Tem Farris opposed, stating "we spent a lot of time planning the (bankrupt) Harbor."

Nose, say good-bye to face.

Passed with P&Z recommendations, 6-1.

VIII. Action Items.

1. Addendum to contract with trash company to extend to 5 years. This does not lock in the rate. Passed 6-1. Councilman Sweet opposed not going out for bid.

2. Discussion of upcoming citizen survey. Discussion revolved around content and a lucky few who gets the special survey.

When mentioned that the survey would include questions in Spanish, Councilman Scott's finger moved so fast for the speak button, it nearly detached from his hand.

Mr Scott expressed opposition to certain questions and doing the survey in Spanish for "philosophical" reasons.

Councilman Russo asked about online options.

Mr Farris asked about including a question asking if people are willing to pay for the city's wish lists.

Councilman Sweet stated he agreed with Mr Scott's position about including questions in Spanish.

Councilman Sevier noted that the 3000+ non-English speaking new citizens in Rockwall didn't move to Rockwall, Rockwall moved to them (us) (That is Lake Rockwall Estates, aka The Zoo.) Not including the opinions of those residents will skew the survey. He concluded that the city knew before annexation that the vast majority speak Spanish as a first language.

Mr Farris made a motion to table until the 2nd meeting in January for more time to consider the survey. Passed 7-0.

3. Councilman Russo wants the city to help you find your lost dog using the website and social media. Staff is looking into this idea.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rockwall City Council 15 November

The Youth Advisory Council (or YACs) was present "shadowing" council and staff. Never too early to start learning about liberty infringement and financial irresponsibility.

After many time-consuming jokes where the word "yak" was replaced for the word "YAC", the meeting was started.

III. Consent Agenda.

Councilman Russo pulled item 1 regarding minutes, passes 5-0-2.

Remaining pass 7-0.

IV. Appointments.

1. P&Z Chairman Herbst presented the most recent P&Z cases. Three weeks is too long for me to recall any details.

2. Archer's Care Care, that has been operating out of compliance and without an SUP, is back again to get his building legal.

Quick recap (as I understand it):

-About 3 years ago, Archer's had to move as the previous location was in the way of the widening of SH-205.
-Archer's moved to a building that required an SUP to accommodate the business on Washington St.
-An agreement was made that by the end of 2 years (the length of the SUP), Archer's would move to a new location or bring the building on Washington into compliance with the fire code, specifically, fire sprinklers.
-Some time after the end of the SUP, Archer's came back to the city and explained he could not afford to move, nor could he afford to install a fire sprinkler system. More time was given. (Essentially, the city turned a blind eye to compliance.)
-He could now comply by installing the sprinkler system at a cost of $16,500, but needs the city to foot the $5,000 bill for move the water line (for a tap) across the street to his shop and 6 months to complete the install.

Mayor Pro Tem Farris made a motion to spend the money and give the time for "his friend", but not because they are friends.

Councilman Scott asked about other beneficiaries from the city doing this.

Chief Poindexter: No one else.

Councilman Scott also asked if the city had done this for anyone else.

The Chief explained that during the downtown renovations, including water, the city added taps at buildings if the tenants decided to put in sprinklers, the taps would be available.

Councilman Sweet concurred with Mr Scott's concerns and added that he was "struggling" with the $5,000 gift to Archer's.

Councilmember Margo Nielsen noted that the building would still have to be zoned and what would happen if the zoning failed, that Mr Archer and the city would have spent money and not be able to reap the benefit.

Mr Farris stated that the city "should have known" that this building could some have a business that would require a sprinkler system and should have included it in the renovations the Chief mentioned. Bascially, the city is at fault for Archer's problem.

Mr Scott disagreed with Mr Farris assertion of an "oversight" and has a problem spending the $5,000.

(Repeat discussion.)

Asst Manager Crowley stated that the city has secret money tucked away for exactly this sort of thing.

Councilman Russo believed that this would provide "safety" to surrounding businesses and special treatment should be given as his friend Archer has been in Rockwall 30 years.

Councilman Sevier inquired about the magic money Mr Crowley has stashed.

The city has been setting aside money to give to businesses downtown to bribe them to come downtown.

Motion to gift $5,000 to Archer's and grant a 6 month SUP to comply passed 4-3.

Only Councilmembers Scott, Sweet, and Nielsen respected taxpayers' money on this issue.

3. Appointment with Connie Cannady, with J. Stowe & Co, LLC., to discuss the compliance review of cable services franchise fees, Public, Educational and Governmental fees, and selected other provisions of the Franchise Agreement between the City of Rockwall, Texas, and Charter
Communications, and take any action necessary.

It was even more boring than it sounded (like watching slow drying paint in slow-motion). Only thing that seemed relevant was the $31,000 owed to the city by Charter.

4. YAC kids showed a power point explaining their ideas for this year's project.

1st idea is a Senior (Citizens) Prom.

2nd idea is a recycling program.

Kids want to do the Prom.

Mr Russo objected to the idea of pretend gambling at a fake casino.

Mr Sweet made a joke about the City Manager's age.

V. Public Hearing Items.

1. Some change in Teen Curfew ordinance. No one on council thought anyone needed to know any details, passes 7-0 without discussion.

2. Rest Haven needs an SUP for a mausoleum. After some jokes and assorted stalling, passed 7-0.

3. Guy up in the Shores built a fence in his front yard and needs a variance to let him keep it.

Of the notices that went out to neighbors, 7 came back with 2 in support and 5 opposed.

Mr Farris opposed as it "doesn't fit the Shores, doesn't blend with the neighborhood, and sets bad precedent if allowed."

Mr Scott agreed with Mr Farris.

The owner stated his backyard was all concrete and his dogs won't defecate on concrete, only grass. (I'll bet a million bucks, given enough time the dogs WOULD "go" on concrete.)

Council made no motion, so the request was denied.

VI. Action Items.

2. Annexation! Passed 7-0.

3. Annexation, but excluding the fireworks stand! Passed 7-0.

1. Once again, discussion about streaming council meetings via the internet. Staff looked into what "other cities do" (because God forbid we do something unique and different than Frisco or Plano) and found that for the low price of $90,000 plus $795 per month, the city could be on the internets!! Finally!

Mr Farris balked at the cost and stated, as he has in multiple meeting previously, there were lots of free options with inexpensive hardware options available. Rockwall doesn't need an offsite director or editor or producer (no foolin') to handle the broadcast of council meetings.

Mr Russo concurred.

Motion to send it back to staff to come back with another ridiculously over-priced proposal passed 7-0.

4. Approval of the corridor plan for John King Blvd, aka the "Road to Nowhere".

Councilman Sevier asked if this would be at no cost to the city.

Mr LaCroix: There will be costs. (My notes said "These are just the costs the developer would incur, not sure what I meant, but it sounds like $$$$ going down John King Blvd.)

Passes 6-1, with Mr Sevier opposing.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rockwall City Council 1 November

The World Series kept the meeting short, luckily preventing the amount of damage our council could do.

Too bad we don't have a World Series more often.

Note. Certain thin-skinned folk had their feelings hurt from comments on my last blog. To prevent that happening this time, I will omit their name in this blog. I will not mention which councilman in order to prevent embarrassment.

Mayor Bill Cecil and Councilman Mark Russo absent.

III. Proclamations.

1. Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

Councilman David Sweet presented the proclamation to a couple citizens who have lost family to pancreatic cancer. Both are involved with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

3. Animal Shelter Appreciation Week.

Councilman Cliff Sevier presented the city's proclamation to the city to let all citizens in the city know what a great job the city does. The city gracefully accepted it's own proclamation.

2. Herb Moltzan Appreciation Week.

Mayor Pro Tem ____ _____ presented the proclamation to Herb Moltzan who served on the Parks Board for 10 years. Mayor Pro Tem ____ _____ served with Mr Moltzan for 3 years on the Parks Board.

IV. Open Forum.


V. Consent Agenda.

None Pulled.

VI. Appointments.

1. Rockwall County Committee on Aging. Gave the annual report showing lots of meal on wheels were handed out. They also need the city to give them $21,500. Councilwoman Margo Nielsen made the motion, which passed 5-0.

VII. Action Items.

1. Continued discussion of directional signs for downtown. The city staff rejected Councilman Sevier's suggestion of teaming with National Sign Plazas as the free signs now cost $3500 each. The city staff proposes to do signs in-house at a cost of about $500 each.

A brief discussion as how more signs will improve the city, contradicting previous statements by council that "sign pollution" was the 2nd greatest blight on the city of Rockwall. (Lake Rockwall Estates being the first, of course), led to a motion to have the Main Street committee look into sign needs for downtown.

Surprisingly, Mayor Pro Tem ____ _____, who normally hates sign pollution more than he hated being mocked in a previous blog, was silent on the issue of more pole signs in the city.

I guess it's ok to clutter the city with signs, so long as the city is the one doing it.

2. Rockwall Kennel Club is a new PR program by the city that automatically enrolls you as a member when you adopt an animal from the city pound.

3. Council got to spend some money to plan and promote the upcoming $60,000,000 (my estimate) bond election. During a recession. With 10% unemployment. And predicted inflation. And record high foreclosures.

Wat coud posibly go wrond?

4. A Christmas Market will be held on San Jacinto during the Christmas Parade on Dec 4, permit needed to close the road.

5. Cranky guy who complained about a wall between his house and the new apartments on Yellow Jacket got a compromise. The wall will be masonry, then tubular steel - by the trees he didn't want destroyed- then masonry again.

Adjourned just shy of 7pm! Short meetings are possible, but only because Rangers trump talking to hear one's own voice.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ahh, heliport!

If you haven't read previous blog, this may not make too much sense. I inquired at the FAA regarding the city of Rockwall's fantasy that it could create a "no fly zone". As I thought, a bunch of pandering fools got it wrong. Again. (At best, I think the city could get an agreement from CareFlight.)


I'm in the FAA's office of airports and my office considers landing area proposals (heliports) as they relate to safety of aircraft operations. The question you posed is an air traffic matter but I can give you the answer. FAA only considers implementation of a no fly zone would be to protect national security. As long as the helicopter is being operated in accordance with the FAA regulations for their operation, the FAA would not enforce a local ordinance.

Hope this helps,

Glenn A. Boles

Airspace Program Manager
FAA Airports SW Region
phone: 817 222-5627

FAA SW Region, Airports Division
Attn: Glenn Boles, ASW-624
2601 Meacham Blvd.
Fort Worth, TX 76137

Rockwall City Council 18 October

All the herp that's fit to derp.

IV. Consent Agenda.

1. Pulled by Councilman Scott, minutes approval for meeting he missed. Passed 6-0-1.

2. Police buying new vehicles: 5 Crown Victorias and 2 Chevy Tahoes at a cost of $175,000.

3. Fake drug K2 banned, as well as God's mistake, Salvia Divinorum.

4. Councilman Sevier asked about the seemingly endless supply of money from the 2005, this time for a drainage project. Turns out it will run out some day. (Then you just pass another one, so technically it is endless.)

5. Same as #4.

6. Mayor Pro Tem Farris opposes allowing Walgreens to have anything displayed outside, including propane. His extensive marketing background qualifies him as the expert on business needs of type of operation. Denying Walgreens even outside display of propane tanks is good for the city and the neighborhood. Hey, Glen, wanna really do something good for the city and neighborhood? Consider this:

Rest of council supported business (be still my heart), 6-1.

7. Basically, same thing as 6, but for 7-11 up north. Passes 6-1.

VII. Action Items.

2. Sign Variance for American National Bank at Horizon and Ridge Road. Passes 7-0 without Mayor Pro Tem (who hates signs) comments.

V. Appointments.

1. P&Z Chairman Phillip Herbst. Recommends (1) adding wineries and solar panels to Unified Development Code, (2) a minimum 60 day demolition delay in Old Town District or Historic Properties, like the Alamo, and (3) add pergolas to allowed structures on the takeline.

2. Guy has a house next the apartments being constructed on Yellow Jacket. He doesn't want the masonry wall that all parties (HOA, builder, and City) agreed to years ago to be built because too many trees would be removed in the construction process. He wants the city to alter the agreement and force the builder to install a tubular steel fence,

A representative from the HOA explained that they had done extensive research and employed a landscape architect to help find the best solution, which is the masonry wall.

Council retreats to executive session, probably to discuss getting their butts sued for changing the agreement with the apartment builder.

On the return, the item was tabled two weeks to see if one johnny-come-lately's problem could be resolved.

Councilman Sweet supported the tabling, but noted that 2 years ago this situation was concluded after a lot of time had been spent on it.

Mayor Cecil noted his love of HOA's and his desire to do what's best for the City, the HOA, and the residents - no mention of the apartment builder, I guess he can suck an egg.

3. Resident in Windmill Ridge (and friend of council) hates that CareFlight is flying over her house to Presbyterian Hospital and transporting dying patients to other hospitals. The life-saving helicopters are flying too low to her house and she claims have destroyed her roof and patio cover. She demanded to know why the heli-pad was not on the roof (because the hospital plans upward expansion) or closer to the emergency room (there wasn't enough clearance.)

She has made visits to hospital staff demanding answers, but left unsatisfied.

Staff explained they had contacted CareFlight and that weather is a main determinate to approach and landing.

Repeatedly, the Mayor expressed that CareFlight flying over her house on a life-saving mission is "unacceptable".

Mayor Pro Tem Farris wants an ordinance drafted to prevent helicopters from flying over residential neighborhoods.

I guess ol' Glen don't know nuthin' 'bout no dango FAA.

The City Attorney warned against the city creating an unenforceable ordinance. (Like that has stopped them before.)

Councilman Sweet, a muffin salesman and an expert in aircraft and flying, stated that weather is not a factor in flying.

Councilman Sevier wasn't confident the city had the authority to control air traffic.

Councilman Scott explained that the city and hospital have already had a lot of "give and take" with the hospital.

Mayor Cecil stated the ONLY answer is to create a "no fly zone" over Rockwall. We will also be changing our nickname from "The New Horizon" to "The Iraq of Texas".

Motion to have staff investigate interfering with CareFlight's ability to save lives passed 7-0.

4. Power point by city staff regarding streets.


-Some roads are good.
-Some need repair.
-Need some new equipment.
-Need some new personnel. (9 more by 2016)
-New roads need to be 2' wider to be like a few other cities.
-Need directional signs. (Councilman Sevier been pushing this with great resistance.)
-Mow the Right-Of-Ways.
-Start street sweeping downtown.
-Standardize street signs. (Will take years and $$$$)
-LED signs like Rowlett (Also $$$$)
-Start doing preventive maintenance.
-Permanently fix potholes.
-Increase number of warranty inspections of new roads.

VI. Public Hearings.

1. What P&Z presented in first appointment. Passed 6-1, Councilman Russo opposed.

2. Not discussed, will be continued to next meeting.

3-6. City annexation and 212 agreements.

First guy doesn't want to be annexed, city says. "Eat it."

Second lady accepts the inevitability of annexation, but wants to keep selling fireworks once she is annexed. Not gonna happen.

Annexing land is more addictive than K2. We should ban it.

VII. Action Items.

1. Ordinance about large, outdoor recycling containers. No permit needed to save the earth and make sure as few as possible see you doing it.

Mayor Pro Tem Farris asked about the process for dispute resolution about container placement.

The city will first discuss with you the problems they invented and then force compliance.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rockwall City Council 4 October

Actions from Executive Session: Appointments to YAC and REDC. Right-of-Way acquisition on 549.

III. Proclamations.

4. Fire Prevention Month. City will give you a free smoke detector if you can't afford one.

2. Rockwall 4H Clovers Week. No one said exactly what they do, but it was explained that it is a good way to get involved in the community, it "helps you grow", and "helps others grow".

3. Pumpkin Patch Proclamation. Started by the Friends of the Library and the Catholic Women, The pumpkin patch has been around 22 years. Sold 50,000 pumpkins last year. Funds go to support the library.

The mayor asked for an explanation in the difference between a "pie pumpkin" and "cut pumpkin". "Pie pumpkins" are for pies, and "cut pumpkins" are for cutting (or carving).

1. National Charity League Day. First chapter in Texas was started in Rockwall. Girls do all sorts of things around town to help the community while also fostering relationships between mother and daughter. Open to all girls from 7th-12th grade.

The mayor stated that some wonder why our community is so great. He continued it is because of all the local organizations involved in the community.

I always thought it was because of council's micromanaging of citizens' lives.

IV. Open Forum.


V. Consent Agenda.

# 7 pulled by Mark Russo.

Rest passed 6-0.

7. Mark Russo didn't "like the time frame". Glen Farris doesn't want position (seat on commission or board) to affect how long one sits on other commissions. I agree, people should be allowed to serve as long as possible on boards and commissions. That will prevent any fresh ideas or independent thinkers from affecting the political machine.

VI. Appointments.

1. (new) P&Z Chair Phillip Herbst.

First item "approved", second item denied a manufactured home in the Zoo to have vinyl siding.

2. Main St Advisory Board requests that the holly bushes on Rusk between San Jacinto and Goliad be removed. Businesses located there don't like them, including Councilman Farris who apparently has an office there. Passed.

I didn't hear that the city would be replacing trees (somewhere) for those they removed as they require of citizens and businesses who do the same.

Note: Trees were removed and replaced with flower planters in less than 24 hours. Amazing how fast the city worked without having known beforehand what the vote of council would be.

3. Tom Thumb's want's to have a pumpkin patch of there own. Because of the confusion created by the myriad of ordinances, many were confused why they needed a permit.

Confusion was "cured" and Tom Thumb gets a pumpkin patch.

VII. Public Hearing Items.

1. Walgreens (from last meeting) still wants to increase the products they offer customers, yet council is still opposed. Motion to allow Walgreens to commit capitalism failed 3-3. Mayor Cecil, Councilman Sweet, and Councilman Russo supported the free market. The rest opposed.

Mayor Pro Tem Farris explained the PD was sacred like Ground Zero and should not have outside displays of items nor Mosques adjacent. He continued that Walgreens knew the rules when they built.

Councilman Sweets alter ego showed up to explain all levels of management change and business plans change and the store is try to change and compete with others (specifically CVS across the street that CAN do all the Walgreens cannot). He added that the city is preventing one business from competing with another. (Well, that is why we call it GOVERNment and not ALLOWment.)

Margo Nielsen and Cliff Sevier stated that similar SUP's accross the city might indicate that the zoning is improper and needs to be re-examined to prevent the constant flow of SUP's.

Glen Farris noted, as former CEO of Walgreens and therefore the expert on Walgreens, that Walgreens doesn't need to sell propane, outside "displays" are too much like signs (Glen Hates signs) and this is nothing more than some sneaky attempt on Walgreens part to increase their market visibility and make money.

Ms. Nielsen made a motion to allow only the propane tanks to be displayed outside. Passed 4-2, Farris and Sevier opposed Walgreens propane market greed.

A motion was then made to look at the hyper-restrictive ordinances dealing with outside displays. (I could give em a list of all the small business folks I met a few months back who would whole-heartedly agree. The former owner of a once very prominent local business told me he would never open another business in Rockwall for this very reason.)

2. 7-11 up north wants the same thing as Walgreens. Council is willing to give in to the propane tanks, but not the Red Box. Councilman "Sweet" once again defended the free market and stated the city must be flexible to the businesses that must be flexible to the market.

Council hates Red Box. They believe Red Box dispensers are worse than Heroin/Cyanide/C-4 vending machines and would cause more harm to Rockwall than Fat Man did to Hiroshima.

Note to Red Box - invent an invisible box and it will be welcomed in Rockwall.

7-11 can have propane ONLY. 5-1, Farris threw the anti-business vote. Again.

VIII. Site Plans.

1. Single mom with 3 kids, including one with special needs, wants to have a manufactured home moved into the Zoo without meeting the oppressive "masonary" requirements of the city.

No one on council made a motion to approve or deny the request, so that none would look like a jerk denying a single mom with 3 kids, including one with special needs, a decent home in Rockwall.

(Didn't work)

2. In-N-Out coming to Rockwall. The first obstacle is the roof design. In-N-Out want's the restaurant to look like an In-N-Out. City design standards require a variance for them to achieve this.

IX. Action Items.

1. In-N-Out wants a taller sign than the self-described "sign Nazi", Glen Farris, wants anyone anywhere in the universe to have. In-N-Out wants a 60ft sign in order for people to see it from a greater distance than 10ft away.

Glen Farris opposes of course. Glen hates signs. Glen doesn't think businesses need signs because we have the internet - yes he said that. (Not this meeting, but a previous.)

Cliff Sevier suggested the sign not exceed the elevation of the Toyota sign OR 60ft.

Margo Nielsen explained in her expert opinion as director of a charity that a tall sign is not necessary. She also noted that Toyota got a taller sign because the building is "special". (LEED certified isn't "special", it's a waste of money and feel good crap. But with our earth-worshiping "green" council, anything that pretends to counteract the effects of the Sun's superheated nuclear output is "special". )

In-N-Out explained in their expert opinion as super successful hamburger sellers that a tall sign is necessary for that location.

David Sweet's doppelganger once again defended the business' need over the sentiment of council.

First motion failed 4-2, due to lack of super majority.

After further discussion, which included Mark Russo accusing the In-N-Out folks of a deceitful presentation and Glen Farris crying like a baby and stamping his feet at the thought of a 50ft sign (Mark Russo tried to convince In-N-Out that by Glen going to 50ft he was really sacrificing something and they should be on their hands and needs kissing the feet of Glen Farris for allowing a 50ft sign.) In-N-Out is getting a 50ft sign.

Glen Farris' toddler-like attitude and council's refusal to tell Mr Farris where to stick his attitude and stand up for business nearly cost Rockwall an In-N-Out.

50ft sign passes 6-0.

2. Some 212 agreements as part of annexation procedures passed 6-0.

3. City yet again annexing land. Passed 6-0.

4. Cliff Sevier wanted to know if the city should waive building fees for non-profits. It was thought it could look too much like funneling money to non-profits. Mrgo Nielsen noted that when Helping Hands asked for a waiver, it was granted. Hm.

No action.

5. Cliff Sevier and Chief Moeller want K2 (fake marijuana) banned. Everyone on council agreed that a substance with no confirmed ill-effects should be banned 6-0.

Tobacco related deaths per year: 400,000+ (Legal in Rockwall, 18 or older to buy)
Alcohol related deaths per year: 80,000+ (Legal in Rockwall, 21 or older to buy)
Legally obtained prescription drug related deaths per year: 32,000+ (No age limitation with prescription)
Aspirin related deaths per year: 2,000+ (Legal in Rockwall, no age restriction to buy)
K2 related deaths per year: 0 (Illegal in Rockwall, regardless of age)

Also to be banned is a plant (and it's processed derivatives) Salvia Divinorum. God made a mistake?

Ordinance to be drafted for next council.

--From miscellaneous, the Toyota Triathlon is going to being in huge amounts of revenue to save the failed Harbor project. How much?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Coming soon to an overspending council near you?

Forney – Great Porkopulous of Kaufman County

(Note: this is not mine, merely borrowed from another blog.)

“Ambition is the last refuge of failure.” – Oscar Wilde

This Reporter learned that the City of Forney ambitiously spent $20,000,000 on parks the city cannot afford. And what remedy does the city seek? Why, spread the wealth, or spread the misery – your choice. Forney is lobbying the State Legislature for a constitutional amendment to create parks districts, presumably districts that would mirror the associated school district.

When governments speak of “districts”, they speak of taxing entities, like hospital districts, municipal utility districts, school districts, community college districts and so on.

Your Texas State senator and Representative need to hear from you. They must know you do not want a constitutional amendment that taxes rural residents to pay for a municipality’s extravagance.

Times are tough and going to get tougher, before they get better. It is paramount we prevent an amendment to the Texas constitution that allows the formation of “park districts”

Select this link to find your Texas State Senator contact information:

Use this link to find your Texas State Representative:

Call, write a personal note, send email – be sure to tell them you oppose a constitutional amendment for “parks districts”.

Rockwall Residents are represented by

Rep. Jodie Laubenberg

Rockwall County Office:
603 N. Goliad
Rockwall, Texas 75087

(972) 772-8525
(972) 722-3377 Fax

E-mail Rep. Laubenberg – click on this link

Senator Bob Deuell

2500 Stonewall St.
Greenville, Texas 75401
(903) 450-9797
Fax (903) 450-9796

E-mail Sen. Deuell – click on this link

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rockwall City Council 20 September

Actions from Executive Committee: Bunch of folks reappointed to boards and commissions. A few new members were appointed. Can't have too much new blood, independent thinking may ensue.

III. Consent Agenda.

#3 Pulled by Councilman Sevier.

Rest passed 7-0.

#3 was the terrible idea known as PD-32, or as one councilman called it: "The Rob Whittle Bailout."

Passed 5-2, only Councilmen Sevier and Russo were wise enough to vote against the next failed Harbor project.

IV. Appointments.

1. P&Z Chairman Michael Hunter talked about the public hearing items.

2. P&Z Commissioner Mark Stubbs wants the city of Rockwall to build a massive sports complex so kids and adults can play kids games in luxury. 20-25 kids were in attendance to show support.

His points:

-Whole family played baseball and there was no youth sports park.
-None of his kids played baseball because there was no youth sports park.
-Rockwall is 20 years behind because we have no youth sports park.
-YMCA is nothing but a crutch for youth sports.
-The city hasn't grown faster becuase we have no youth sports park.

Then out came the power point:

-Basically, we "need" a youth sports complex for kids and adults to play kids games. (Kinda like how people "need" a flat screen tv, while the water heater is leaking.)
-In other cities the ratio of residents to ball fields is much higher than Rockwall. Except in the cities where it is lower.

The next speaker for the power point (to talk about finances):

-The youth sports complex would basically be free!
-In one weekend people attending games would spend almost a MILLION dollars! At 52 weeks, that's like 52 MILLION DOLLARS! We can't lose!
-Cities have to build these facilities. Private industries won't because they can't make any money. (Read that as, these complexes bleed money.)
-Terrell and Farmersville have better facilities than Rockwall and we can't fall behind those crappy towns. How embarrassing!
-Put it to a public vote. If it fails, then put it to more public votes until it passes.

I was told this guy, who wants Rocwwall to spend millions for his park, doesn't even live in the city.

Councilman Scott, who lives in a expensive house and is an expert on ballfields, wanted people to know that he has been accused of calling this "his project" and wants people to know that this is not "his project". It is his "legacy". (according to reliable sources.)

Councilman Sevier also expressed his support for the "need", but said it will be up to citizens to champion it.

Councilman Sweet had nothing to add to the conversation, but spoke for a while anyway.

V. Public Hearing Items.

1. Rockwall Honda wants to sell boats, but has to beg the city for permission to display the boats in front of his store.

Councilman Farris had some questions:

Q. How many boats be would displayed?

A: As many as will fit onto allotted area.

Q. How many people asked for Honda to sell boats?

A: Enough to make Honda want to sell boats.

Q: Will Honda want more signage? (Glen hates signs.)

A: Yes.

Q: Might Honda expand to even more product lines?

A: Uh, yes.

Councilman Sevier complimented Honda's upkeep of the front of the store.

Councilmember Nielsen wan to know what kind of boats, and this led to a lengthy discussion about what boats are, how they work, and the best kind of skis to buy. Or something.

2. Walgreens on 205 wants to display things that CVS is displaying right across the street, but can't because of Rockwall's Soviet-style planned development distracting. They want to add a Red Box, ice freezer, and propane cage.

P&Z opposed the Red Box, but the other 2 items were a-ok.

Cliff Sevier had made the motion to approve and David Sweet seconded.

Margo Nielsen's opposition was that there was too much storage outside, having those items wont increase sales, nor influence anyone to go to that store.

Matt Scott was ok with the ice and propane, but was worried about theft of the Red Box. Yes, he really said that. No, he wasn't prompted by the Chief of Police sitting a few feet away.

Glen Farris has a problem with outside displays. Pointed out that the Walgreens moved into the
Soviet-style planned development, and knew ahead of time these items would not be allowed. Also, Mr Farris stated there was no market for propane, ice, or a Red Box. It was not a necessity, and it would not help business "that much".

Isn't it nice to have such brilliant elected officials to help people know what is and isn't good for our private business?

Cliff Sevier had made the motion to approve and David Sweet seconded.

The wind then shifted, and Councilman Sweet rescinded his second.

Matt Scott would not judge their business model, but would not support allowing things not in the PD.

Councilman Sevier pulled his motion in order for the item to return at next council for a full vote. (Mr Russo had left a little while before.)

3. 7-11 at 205 and 552 want a Red Box and ice freezer to be displayed outside of the store. Applicant asked for a postponement.

VI. Action Items.

1. Hotel/Motel money stuff. $390k was asked for by various groups, $190k was given allocated. The vote was in two parts, the first part passed 6-0, the second part was for money to go to the chamber of commerce, Mr Farris recused himself, but it passed 5-0-1.

5. Heritage Christian Academy needs an extension for the portable buildings used for classrooms. A lot less silly questions this year from last, but alas there were a few.

The mayor wanted to know how long the school expects to not have enough money to finish out the second floor of the main building.

The school had no clue how long it would not have enough money to finish out the second floor. Mr Farris added to the motion that if the school left, the SUP would not pass on to next owner.

Passed a 3-year extension, 6-0.

3. City has an ordinance that if you have outside dumpsters, the dumpsters must be enclosed. (Somehow some properties are excluded by being "grandfathered" in after the ordinance was passed.) The city, however, wants to make sure businesses that want to recycle can do so easily. The new ordinance would remove the screening requirements and require a free permit so the city can tell you the best place to place the dumpster. There are 20-25 recycle dumpsters in the city that are causing hearts to stop from people seeing them. The city wants to force people who are already recycling to ask the city for permission to continue doing so.

Margo Nielsen, who has enclosure-less recycling dumpsters in violation of current ordinance at Helping Hands, was assured by Glen Farris that her dumpsters were ok and would not require any city intervention. He continued this was a method to force people to be considerate to others.

David Sweet thought the permit was too much.

The city's position is basically that they want people to recycle, they just don't want people driving by a business to know that business is recycling.

It was proposed the ordinance would read in such a way that the recycling dumpsters would be mostly out of sight. Tabled to reword ordinance.

Dumpster talk only took 25 minutes.

6. City is finally codifying solar panels. City will have a 1000 sqft limit for electric, pool, and/or water. Will require a permit only, no more begging the city to let you save energy and money.

10. REDC Budget. What do they do again? Passed 6-0.

11. Rockwall Technology Park budget, including maintenance performed by Ms Nielsen's family. Passed 5-0-1, Ms Nielsen recused herself.

7. Amended budget for 2010.

8. Adopted budget for 2011.

Mr Scott, who is very wealthy and a brilliant lawyer (just ask him), had several points:

-The sky is not falling.
-At last meeting, it was suggested by a stupid citizen to cut spending, not gonna happen on Matt Scott's watch.
-Costco, which Mr Scott personally brought to Rocwkall, made everything great!
-There is no chance of a double dip recession, in fact all the economist he listens to say we are coming out of the recession!

Here's a link to one of those economist: M.E.B. Financial

Then there's this dummy who thinks we aren't out of a recession: Dumb Guy who knows nothing of finances. You really can't trust someone who lives in a $31,500 home. Mr Scott lives in a much more expensive home and according to him, that makes him very wise in the ways of money. Not only that, he is so smart he went to the best school in the nation and has the diploma to prove it!

The mayor noted that thanks to LRE (aka the Zoo), the Ad Valorem collections were awesome!

Then the rest of council spoke for 20 minutes what a great job they all were doing.

9. Ad Valorem rate remains 50.31 per 100. Mr Sweet then had 845 things to say about that, including how responsible council has been with tax dollars.


4. Electronic Sign to replace all those banners the city and others put up.

This led to Mr Sevier asking why political signs placed in front of Chili's in TxDot right-of-way are removed, but elsewhere in the city political signs in TxDot right-of-way are not.

Mr Scott then belittled and mocked Mr Sevier for his question, pulled out his diploma, and said, "THAT'S WHY!"

And for some reason the Mayor mentioned In-N-Out coming to Rockwall. He may have been talking in his sleep.

12. Discussion of broadcasting meetings over internet. Staff still "looking" into it.

2. The capital improvement planning work session will be moved to the "retreat". Mr Scott will be pushing for the youth sports park. The Mayor doesn't think this is a good time to put forth a massive bond election. I thought we were immune to the laws of economics in Rockwall.

Maybe the Mayor needs to consult with Mr Scott's financial planner:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Condominiums ≠ apartments. Except when they do...

Thankfully, our city government is far more open and trustworthy than Richardson - they would never go off and do something like this.

Plan to trade condos for apartments angers residents in Richardson's Brick Row development

08:32 PM CDT on Saturday, September 25, 2010
By IAN McCANN / The Dallas Morning News

Construction at Brick Row, a mix of apartments, condominiums, townhouses and retail in Richardson, started two years ago as the real estate market was imploding.

Developers and city officials touted the $140 million project as an upscale replacement for hundreds of aging apartments near a DART light-rail station and a place for young professionals to get an Uptown feel in the suburbs.

But with the condo market still lagging, developer Winston Capital is asking for permission to build more apartments instead of the condominiums that were planned.

That has nearby residents and those who bought the first townhouses in Brick Row crying foul.

They want the development that is on paper, which included 150 townhomes, 300 condos and only 500 apartments.

"I would never have bought if I knew this was going to happen," townhouse owner Gary Flatt told Richardson plan commissioners this month. "Would you buy next to a bunch of apartments? I wouldn't."

The City Council is expected to consider the proposal in October. Commissioners voted 5-2 to allow some of the planned condominiums to become apartments, but those closest to the townhouses are to remain condo units.

A handful of Brick Row's townhouses have sold, and the condos probably wouldn't sell if they were built. But the apartments are renting briskly, developers say.

They argue the buildings would look the same, and they would fill more quickly, providing more residents to draw retail. The goal, the developer said, is to build a complete community.

"The market is what it is, and we're trying to make the best development we can," said Chris Ray, a Winston Capital executive. "It all relies on the other pieces."

The mix of housing at Brick Row, once called Centennial Park, has long been a contentious issue. Residents in nearby Highland Terrace wrestled with a plan for the area nearly a decade ago, eventually settling on 800 units at most. They strongly objected when Brick Row's zoning was set in 2007 at 950 units.

Brick Row is one of several mixed-use developments in Richardson and is part of a larger redevelopment strategy. It replaced hundreds of older apartments at Greenville Avenue and Spring Valley Road.

Since Winston broke ground on the project in 2008, some segments of the housing market have recovered. Even some condos, primarily near downtown Dallas, are once again selling. But new suburban condos are simply not viable because people can't get financing to buy or even build them, said Mike Puls, a Dallas real estate analyst.

"A condo won't work there for 20 years," Puls said of areas beyond LBJ Freeway.

While residents would rather the land remain vacant than have apartments on it, Puls said it's better for the tax base and property values to have something built.

Still, residents are adamant in their opposition to substituting apartments for condos. They want owner-occupied units, not hundreds more renters.

"It needs to be what they said it was going to be," said Shelley McCall, president of the Highland Terrace Neighborhood Association. "If it takes a little longer, that's fine."

Monday, September 20, 2010

It can't happen here..........

It can't happen here. It can't happen here. It can't happen here. It can't happen here. It can't happen here. It can't happen here. It can't happen here. (Just keep repeating until you believe it.)

Dallas real estate projects stuck in neutral as market idles

12:56 AM CDT on Sunday, September 19, 2010
By STEVE BROWN / The Dallas Morning News

The new streets are paved, the landscaping is in place, and fancy signs and sculptures tell motorists they've arrived at MidtownPark. But there's no there there at the project just east of North Central Expressway.

Plans for dozens of buildings have not gotten off the ground – another result of the national recession and real estate market downturn.

Developers tore down more than 80 acres of aging apartments around the intersection of Meadow Road and Manderville Lane. The blocks of prime real estate were cleared to make way for a development that was to include residential and commercial projects.

Three years ago, investment brokers were hired to market the land. But most new apartment and commercial developments have been on hiatus in the last couple of years.

The property is zoned for 3,800 apartments, condos and townhouses, 90,000 square feet of retail space and 930,000 square feet of office space.

"You can be very smart with real estate and timing, but things totally out of your control can be a real problem," said property broker Newt Walker. "The money that was available for new deals and demand for projects like that abruptly shifted away.

"Now it's just sitting there until the real estate market turns, and no one knows how long that will be."

MidtownPark developer Valencia Capital Management oversaw construction of sidewalks, a traffic roundabout and small parks for the project. The city of Dallas paid almost $10 million to help revamp the neighborhood between North Central Expressway and Greenville Avenue.

Officials with Dallas-based Valencia Capital did not return phone calls.

Slow going

A few miles to the east on Skillman Street, there's another mixed-use development in waiting.

Lake Highlands Town Center is planned as a 70-acre high-density urban development to be built at Skillman and Walnut Hill Lane.

Developer Prescott Realty Group knocked down hundreds of decrepit apartments for the project, which will include retail, residential and public space along White Rock Creek.

Ground was broken in 2007 – right before the recession hit.

The first phase of construction, which includes new roads, a lake park and other public amenities, is pretty much done.

Work will be finished on a new DART light-rail station to serve the project late this year.

But so far, none of the apartment and retail buildings are under way.

"It's going a little slower than we anticipated, but we are moving forward," said Prescott Realty president Vance Detwiler. "We are actively marketing the project and hope to have an announcement in the next 90 days.

"We look forward to getting going."

Just wait

Prescott Realty has also closed down two large apartment communities just south of its construction site. Those buildings will probably be knocked down at some point, Detwiler said.

Development sites are selling for as much as a 50 percent less than they were a few years ago, said Will Balthrope, a vice president of investment with Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services.

"And there is a dearth of financing for any new construction," he said.

But eventually properties like MidtownPark and Lake Highlands Town Center will be on builders' front burners, he said.

"The hard lifting has already been done," including the zoning and infrastructure construction, Balthrope said. "While those tracts sit vacant today, the person that eventually builds on them will make a lot of money."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rockwall City Council 7 September

III. Proclamations.

1. Constitution Week. Some ladies from the DAR accepted the proclamation honoring the adoption of the US Constitution.

Almost in unison the council exclaimed, "Consti-what-tion?"

It was then explained that the Constitution was the "whole basis of how we live and what we do." If only.

The mayor then declared the Constitution to probably be one of the most important documents in US history.

The ladies then handed out copies to the audience. When she approached councilmembers, their reaction was that of a vampire to a cross.

Actually one councilman took a copy to solve a wobbly-chair problem.

2. National Preparedness Month.

Basically, you should have a plan and supplies in case of dire life threatening-emergency. Liek say, your golf course isn't getting watered.

I say forget all that advice and just call the city if you ever need anything. That's what city government is for, to fulfill the desires and needs of citizens. Well, certain citizens anyways.

On second thought, you better get prepared and not rely on government.

IV. Open Forum.


V. Consent Agenda.

2 & 3 pulled by councilmen that couldn't be bothered to go to a couple meetings and therefore couldn't vote on the minutes.

Rest passed 7-0.

VI. Appointments.

1. P&Z was a no show!

VII. Public Hearing Items.

1. Budget.

City comments:

No new employees.
No new taxes.

Not City comments:

No cut in spending.

Only one person spoke:

-Told the mayor not to fear free speech, nor demonize those who engage in it (via blogs).
-The economic outlook is not a rosy as the mayor claims.
-In the real world (read: private sector) when revenue goes down, costs are cut
-Reduce the budget, not maintain status quo to prepare for what the rest of the populace sees happening in the financial world.

2. ANOTHER fella has to beg the city for permission to install solar panels on his house.

One audience member spoke asking why solar panels are still requiring the homeowner to beg the council for permission to install solar panels.

Mayor Cecil: "Because we require it."

Audience member: "This should be a routine process. Plano has it figured out."

Councilman Farris then defended the city's inaction by explaining that the city has been studying the issue "intently". The city wants to make sure it's ok with HOA's before it is codified.

Passed 7-0.

VIII. Fella in the Zoo built a fence too high (48", city max 42") and without permission from the city.

Councilmember Nielsen asked why the city standard was 42", as 48" seemed like a more "regular" height.

Chief Code Guy Widmer: "At 48 inches, it is hard for people from a vehicle to see into the yard."

In case you didn't get that:

At 48 inches, it is hard for people from a vehicle to see into the yard.
At 48 inches, it is hard for people from a vehicle to see into the yard.
At 48 inches, it is hard for people from a vehicle to see into the yard.
At 48 inches, it is hard for people from a vehicle to see into the yard.
At 48 inches, it is hard for people from a vehicle to see into the yard.

Ms Nielsen asked for a more reasonable standard and made the motion to approve.

Passed 7-0.

2. PD-32 aka Failed Harbor Project 2

Glen Farris:

-Thanked council for postponing vote until the vote was stacked.
-The "hill" is the most valuable piece of property in the Metroplex. (uhhh, I'm guessing Glen hasn't seen much of the Metroplex.)
-Potential income for the city is $700 million. (How the city coffer benefit from a TIF, I have yet to see.)
-Will make every single person in Rockwall's life so much better. (Yipee! I knew the only thing missing to make everyone in Rockwall feel great was a watching a bunch of yuppies crammed into a tin can. )

Matt Scott:

-Lot of good reasons to oppose apartments and multifamily. (Has repeatedly said he does not support multifamily.)
-Opposing anything but single family is dogmatic. (Has repeatedly said he does not support multifamily.)
-Supported the apartment complex "Evergreen".(Has repeatedly said he does not support multifamily.)
-Opposing multifamily is not good.(Has repeatedly said he does not support multifamily.)
-These are not "apartments", just a bunch of units crammed together on all sides and each with a separate deed. (As opposed to an apartment which is just a bunch of units crammed together on all sides and each with a single deed.)
-All units will be owner occupied. (No one has yet said how this will be enforced.)
-The homes will be worth more than the $190k average home in Rockwall and more than all of councils' homes, except Mr Scott's home which is worth WAY more than the next councilman's home.
-Can't vote cautious just because you can't see the future. (But you can vote reckless when you can't see the future.)
-Mr Scott then chastised me (indirectly) for not having enough knowledge about such things because my home is only worth 12% of the taxable value of Mr Scott's home. He would rather live in a town of $300k homes, not those as low valued as mine. (FYI, He forced a neighborhood full of those types of home into the city limits.)
-He noted the investors in the audience ready to build as soon as the city invests ten of millions of taxpayer dollars to fund this fiasco.
-He then got onto Councilman Russo for previously voting throughout the process, but now not wanting to spend ten of millions of taxpayer dollars to fund this fiasco.
-He then continued that opposing wanting to spend ten of millions of taxpayer dollars to fund this fiasco was irresponsible.

Cliff Sevier:

-Noted that had the mayor not tabled the issue, it would have died at the previous meeting. It was tabled to guarantee passage with a stacked council.
-He defended his votes to spend money on the plans, as he couldn't vote against something that didn't exist.
-8 other large multifamily complexes in Rockwall have less density combined than this project.
-Massive increase in parking and traffic issues.

David Sweet:

-This is needed for the success of the Harbor. (Big government solution to a failed government created problem: throw money at it. Ah, works so well for Social Security, Schools, Mass Transit, etc.)
-Need more foot traffic during the day. (Foot traffic ain't the missing factor in the equation of success at the Harbor; stuff people want to buy is the missing factor in that equation.)
-These are not "apartments" or "multifamily", just a bunch of units crammed together on all sides and each with a separate deed. (As opposed to an apartment which is just a bunch of units crammed together on all sides and each with a single deed.)
-Will be a TIF (Remind me, David, how does a TIF halp the city?)

Margo Nielsen:

-For 10 years mystery people have been asking for different housing types to downsize.
-The council has good intentions. (Good intentions are also useful pave stones for certain destinations.)

Mayor Cecil:

-This will not be successful without residential. (Just like all the other retail areas in Rockwall, if it wasn't for that apartment complex in the middle of the Kroger parking lot, it would have gone out of business a LONG time ago.)
-No one will pay $100k or more for these homes without retail. (Someone should tell that to those who developed the Shores, Chandler's Landing, Buffalo Creek, etc.)
-These are not "apartments" or "multifamily", just a bunch of units crammed together on all sides and each with a separate deed. (As opposed to an apartment which is just a bunch of units crammed together on all sides and each with a single deed.)
-Nothing can stop someone from owning multiple condos and renting those units out. (Sounds a lot like an apartment.)
-People want to own a piece of the Harbor. (I'm guessing he means the developers.)
-This is the best possible scenario to make this development and the Harbor successful. (Wow, an admission from the mayor that the Harbor was a failure. And before anyone argues: IT IS IN BANKRUPTCY.)

Passes 5-2.

Only councilmen Russo and Sevier saw the foolishness of spending TENS OF MILLIONS OF TAX DOLLARS to develop Rob Whittle's second major failure in Rockwall.

The city will be the "developers" of this land.
This will be a massive collection of apartments.
This will cost tens of millions Rockwall tax dollars.

Anyone who tells you differently is lying to your face.

4. City annexing to make sure some folks can't do with their property what they want.

5. City adding pergolas to allowed structures on the takeline. Dallas ok with it, but no more changes in building types.

6. Something about a demolition delay for homes in the historic ovelay district.

7. Item about allowing wineries in city limits. Passed 7-0. More benefits for the "wine and cheese" folk passed by the 2 "hot dog and beer" councilmen?

8. The staff needs to schedule a meeting to discuss capital improvement planning and want council input as to when they think it would convenient for them to attend and inconvenient for citizens.

9. The terribly designed left turn at Ralph Hall and Horizon needs fixing. Gonna cost $25k, but City Manager Julie Couch says that money doesn't exist, especially with this multi-million dollar fiasco called PD-32 coming up. May not happen, but staff will investigate to confirm it won't happen.

I've notice that whenever staff comes up with some idea, they can always find money in the budget to fund that project. But very often, when councilmembers come up with an idea, the city responds "there ain't no money" before the councilman even finishes his sentence. Weird.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rockwall City Council 16 August

Action from Executive Committee: we bought some land.

VII. Action Items.

1. District Attorney Kenda Culpepper presented to council the county-wide plan for the "No Refusal" weekend over the Labor Day holiday.

Should be called "Quicker Warrant" weekend as "No Refusal" could technically always be the case if the local governments wanted to do so.

Basically, if you get pulled over and the police suspect you are driving under the influence (DWI) and you refuse a breathalyzer, the police have a couple local judges that are on call to sign a warrant for a blood test.

Rockwall's Municipal Judge Cathy Penn will be one of the judges on call and if used, the city will reimburse the county $120 per hour for Judge Penn's time.

Last year, the county used the on call Judges 3 times. Also, there were less refusals than past years. In this case, crime deterrence is credited.

City agrees to the agreement 6-0. (Glen Farris was a no-show.)

III. Proclamations.

1. Rockwall University Graduates recognized for graduating Rockwall University.

Employees spend time learning what goes on in other departments, while citizens wonder why the Water Department serviceman is dressed in a tie and loafers.

Graduates received a plaque and money.

IV. Consent Agenda.

5 & 6 pulled by Cliff Sevier.

1-4 Pass without discussion 6-0. (1. Minutes, 2. Minutes, 3. Donor Sign thingy, 4. Utility easement granted to ONCOR somewhere.)

5. 1st Reading of a zoning change for the hillside up from the Harbor.

Basically, the majority of council and staff want to fundamentally change the demographic and feel of Rockwall by turning it into Plano, Jr.

The Centrally Planned Development (PD-32) includes high-density retail and residential (1201 units) development for the proposed 80 acres.

The city will foot the bill (probably as certificates of obligation or a TIF) to put in all the roads and infrastructure, as well as paying for moving the exit ramp from I-30 back.

The cost is in the millions to do so, with guarantee of any development. Unless of course there is already some secret developer involved that has not been divulged, but I really doubt that is the case. I guess someone could get past campaign finance reports and compare those to any future developers that magically appear. Not gonna be me, I have too much faith in my government.

The residential will possibly include townhomes and condos, NOT APARTMENTS OR MULTIFAMILY DWELLINGS , even though some of the elevation drawing and renditions show residences connected at 3 walls, the ceiling and the floor to other non-apartments. They are merely residences that a connected together apart from one another.

I repeat, multiple families living in the same building apart from each other are NOT APARTMENTS. Several council stated this.

The expression used repeatedly was "urban residential" NOT APARTMENTS. (Clicky on link for a GIS of "urban residential" and you will see they are NOT APARTMENTS.)

The "urban residential" obsession is obviously filling a need in the market that the market forces are too stupid to recognize. People move away from the urban areas to the suburbs and demand an urban setting they chose not to live in in an urban area. Duh.

Councilmen Russo and Sevier expressed their opposition.

Councilmen Sweet and Scott then stamped their feet and demanded to know why Councilmen Russo and Sevier were opposed.

Councilman Sevier's main opposition is the "cramming" in of the homes, aka "row housing". He also noted that he has never supported increasing multifamily-type house in Rockwall, unlike other councilmen who oppose multifamily except when they vote for it.

Councilman Russo's two reasons for not supporting were the negative impact of more traffic at an already high density traffic area and he believes the developers should be planning the best use of land, not the city.

After 30 minutes of monkeying around, the city avoided a deadlocked vote of 3-3 (Sweet claimed he would oppose), the council tabled the item until the next meeting when the cards would be stacked in favor of passing the item.

Malvina Reynolds - 1962

(Councilwoman Nielsen excuse herself from the remainder of the meeting.)

V. Appointments.

1. Jerry Archer of Archer's Car Care was forced to move (2007, I think) from his location on SH-205 for the purpose of SH-205 being widened.

He a few blocks to Washington St and was again burdened by the Fannin St repairs.

Long story short, he agreed to put in fire sprinklers by x amount of time (3 years I suppose) in order to fulfill the SUP . He has not done so for various financial reasons, and still cannot afford to do so. He needs a little more time to figure it all out and was granted 90 more days, 5-0.

2. Fella living in the ETJ of the city wants to be released from Rockwall's ETJ and be taken into McClendom-Chisholm's ETJ. City didn't like that idea one bit. Failed without a vote. He's stuck.

On the bright side, he might some day get city water!

VI. Public Hearings Items.

1. Bunch-o-land being annexed.

People who spoke do not want to be annexed. City could give a Rat's Donkey. Basically, the Mayor's position was that if you live in the ETJ we will annex you, like it or not.

Why call it a hearing if no one listens?

City must annex or as I was once told by a councilman, "People would do whatever they want."

Patrick Henry would be so proud! "Give me liberty or give me death! Or not."

VII. Action Items.

3. Tabled.

2. City's answers the Old Town Shoppe's questions from previous meeting:

Lights need fixin'.
Trees need trimmin'
Planters need movin'.
Parking lots need illuinatin'.
Christmas time will decoratin'.
Councilman Sevier's sign initiative need implementin'.

4. Councilman Russo wants the staff to look into setting up Cultural Arts Districts in the city.

Councilman Scott was the most vocal opponent because he is not interested in it. "The wine and cheese folk get too much attention and not enough for the beer and hot dog folk like [Mr Scott] and [David Sweet]."

Councilman Scott then asked Mr Russo why he would support this and not a multi-million dollar ball field monument?

Mr Russo: "This is way cheaper."

Councilman Sevier opined that staff may have too many projects and that if there is too much for staff, there won't be any followup.

Mr Scott then made a motion to have staff look into Cultural Arts District program. Passed 5-0.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rockwall City Council 2 August

An urgent matter kept me from all but the first hour of the meeting.

This handy pie chart will illustrate in a general manner how the time was spent in that hour. (Actually, this chart could be used to illustrate every meeting.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rockwall City Council 19 July

The 6:00pm meeting started promptly at 6:05pm.

III. Consent Agenda.

All Passed 6-0.

There was some discussion of upcoming development on the large area west of Ridge Road where Alamo St is interrupted.

IV. Appointments.

1. P&Z Chairman Hunter briefly talked about the upcoming public hearing on a replat that wasn't heard at the last P&Z because the applicant was a no-show.

Motion to continue until next meeting.

2. Lady wants to build some parking spaces at her business downtown on public right-of-way.

Passes without discussion 6-0.

3. Almost exactly the same (different lady) as #2. Passes 6-0.

V. Public Hearings.

1. See appointment #1.

VI. Action Items.

1. Pergola thing from last meeting is back. After a lengthy coma-inducing discussion, council is sending the item to Dallas for approval.

4 & 5. Extension of 212 agreements for undeveloped areas under consideration for annexation (mostly or completely surrounded by city anyways).

Mayor Pro Tem Glen Farris expressed that he opposes the annexation of the areas unless it was to regulate development.

Motion to begin annexation passed 4-2, Councilman Russo and Mayor Pro Tem Farris opposed.

3. Donor recognition signs from last meeting are back.

Little discussion, but self-designated sign-Nazi Farris wanted pole signs excluded from the donor sign allowance.

He explained that if these signs were up along the I-30 corridor (only place pole signs allowed), it would cause confusion finding things.

In other words, signs would make it hard to find the place you want to go.

Plus, Glen hates pole signs. Example of a Pole sign:

Passed 6-0.

2. Directional signs. Discussed back in November. The signs would be privately maintained, and would b e used to direct people to areas around town (Harbor, Downtown) and businesses in those areas. The businesses on the signs would pay the private company and the city would get a percentage of those sales. Home builders would not be allowed to advertise. The issue was brought forth to council (both times) by Councilman Sevier, who explained this program would be ideal to help promote areas like the Harbor and Downtown.

The discussion revolved around making it easy to get around town and reduce confusion while searching for a business.

In other words, signs would make it easy to find the place you want to go.

Motion to get staff to look at (again presumably, as it was the same request in November), passes 6-0.

The following item was not on the agenda posted Friday afternoon:

6. Actual wording from the agenda amendment :

6. * Discuss and consider maintenance issues at the Shores Golf Course, and take any action necessary.

* Justification: This is an emergency agenda item. Due to maintenance conditions, including irrigation deficiencies and the extreme heat observed today, July 19th, at the Shores Golf Course, discussion and possible action may be required to ensure protection of City controlled property.

Here's how the law is written:

Sec. 551.045. EXCEPTION TO GENERAL RULE: NOTICE OF EMERGENCY MEETING OR EMERGENCY ADDITION TO AGENDA. (a) In an emergency or when there is an urgent public necessity, the notice of a meeting or the supplemental notice of a subject added as an item to the agenda for a meeting for which notice has been posted in accordance with this subchapter is sufficient if it is posted for at least two hours before the meeting is convened.

(b) An emergency or an urgent public necessity exists only if immediate action is required of a governmental body because of:

(1) an imminent threat to public health and safety; or

(2) a reasonably unforeseeable situation.

(c) The governmental body shall clearly identify the emergency or urgent public necessity in the notice or supplemental notice under this section.

(d) A person who is designated or authorized to post notice of a meeting by a governmental body under this subchapter shall post the notice taking at face value the governmental body's stated reason for the emergency or urgent public necessity.

(e) For purposes of Subsection (b)(2), the sudden relocation of a large number of residents from the area of a declared disaster to a governmental body's jurisdiction is considered a reasonably unforeseeable situation for a reasonable period immediately following the relocation. Notice of an emergency meeting or supplemental notice of an emergency item added to the agenda of a meeting to address a situation described by this subsection must be given to members of the news media as provided by Section 551.047 not later than one hour before the meeting.

Possible examples of

"(1) an imminent threat to public health and safety; or

(2) a reasonably unforeseeable situation."



The moon crashing into the earth.

Praxis exploding.

Is lawn maintenance of a private golf course an example of

"(1) an imminent threat to public health and safety; or

(2) a reasonably unforeseeable situation."?

Dead grass.

A worthy and important issue? Probably.

Is it worth possibly violating state law? I'm not Greg Abbot. What was so vitally important as to amend the agenda at noon, was no longer important at 7:30pm. The item was removed from the agenda. (Several in audience were quite unhappy about that, too.)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Rockwall City Council 6 July

III. Open Forum.

1. A representative from RISD briefly talked about the strategic plan devised by a 156 member committee. She didn't get into details of the report, but I can imagine it read something like: "blah blah blah, spend tons of cash, tax tax tax, it's for the children."

IV. Consent Agenda.

#6 (regarding one of the SUP's for a new antique store) was pulled and didn't need to be.

All were eventually approved 7-0.

V. Appointments.

1. Fella that wants to break the world record for giant work out session at the harbor was back asking for half the money he wanted before - this time "only" $2500.00.

Mayor Pro Tem Farris gave mad props to Councilman Russo for bringing the "Fit City" initiative to Rockwall and made a motion to support the request.

It is slightly possible the city could get the money back if the fund raising goals are met. The organizers wanted to give any leftover money to the Boys and Girls club, which Councilman Farris thought acceptable. (Was not a staff recomendation, but the idea was entertained to amend the motion.)

Councilman Sweet expressed he would not support the motion as not a wise expenditure of taxpayer money, nor should any leftover city money go to a non-profit.

Councilman Sevier also did not support giving the money to a non-profit and stated that the collected Hotel/Motel Tax dollars are available for such events.

Councilman Russo dittoed the opposition of "funneling" money to a non-profit.

Mayor Pro Tem Farris re-amended the motion to remove the "funneling".

It was also argued that this would "bring economic development to the harbor". (That's polispeak for "I can't think of a better argument and no one will argue against 'economic development.'" Much like "it's for the children", "it's for health and safety", or "national security.")

Mrs Nielsen expressed that she would help find more sponsors and that this was a loan. (An unsecured loan.)

Mayor Cecil pointed out to those still opposed (with the "funneling" taken out) that they aren't willing the expend $2500 on this, but are willing to put forth $700,000 worth of bonds!

The motion passes 5-2, Councilman Sweet opposed spending yours and my tax dollars on the event.

VI. Action Items.

1. The city is going to spend $20,000 to have an on-site spay/neuter clinic at the Animal Adoption Center.

The current policy is after an adoption, the new owners have 6 months (!) to get the animal fixed. The city confirms this by having an animal control officer contact the owner and ask if they have done so. And if they haven't fixed the animal, well, they'd better - or else they might get called again.

But for an initial cost of $20,000 plus whatever it costs to have a vet come to the adoption center and perform the operation, the city will no longer have to waste man hours calling adopters for follow-up.

Motion for staff to pursue this adventure passes 7-0.

2. The all-new, comprehensive sign ordinance that staff and council recently passed after spending untold hours and months developing needs amending.

The YMCA would like to install a couple signs thanking sponsors. The city's current ordinance classifies this as off-premise advertising and it is unacceptable. The change would make it acceptable for non-profits to use some of their sign allowance showcasing the sponsors that make the operation possible.

15 minutes of rambling discussion ensued, including the concern that a church might also take advantage of this allowance, because that's what a church would do - get a corporate sponsor.

Well, maybe if this guy was the pastor:

The motion to approve, brought to you by Carl's Jr, passed 7-0.