Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rockwall City Council 19 April

III. Proclamations.

1. The Rockwall Youth Advisory Council (YAC) presented to the Rockwall County Library a giant check for around 300 bucks to buy some environmental books. How many trees were killed and how many CFS were produced for this endeavor? It's the show that counts.

IV. Consent Agenda.

4 items, all pulled.

1. Minutes. Passed

2. 2nd reading for the SUP of the greatest 7-11 ever. Passed 5-2, Matt Scott and David Sweet opposed this generator of sales and property taxes and soon-to-be local employer.

3. Replat of some lot on Ralph Hall. David Sweet opposed, not sure if he said why.

4. After-the-fact approval of a front yard fence. Passed 7-0

V. Appointments.

1. P&Z Vice Chairman Herbst reported the vote on the upcoming public hearing. Passed P&Z 3-2.

2. YAC kids presented their green report and passed out some paper (!) handouts.

The objective of their project was to get the community to "go green". Not sure if they succeeded yet.

Part of the project included a display at the library with solar powered light. (Let that sink in for a minute.)

Paper (!) awards were given out to the kids with comments and praise from the mayor and Councilman Farris. (Glen noted his resume wasn't as good as "these kids". I know my resume is at least slightly better than high school kids. Logically, Glen is saying my resume is better than his! And if he is "qualified" to be on council based on his resume, I guess that means I am too, despite what some have said on certain internet forums! Thanks, Glen!)

Glen also noted this was the best group ever. Take that last year kids!

3. Independent financial report of city. Fella says we doing ok, but cautions that we be in a "W" recession and haven't hit the 2nd drop yet. Whatever, lets spend ridiculous amounts of money!! What's some "finance" joker know anyway.

4. Some guy is having problems forcing his neighbor to do whatever the guy wants his neighbor to do. Constantly calls code enforcement on his neighbor, who in turn (supposedly) reported him to the cops and the cops had the complainer under surveillance for secret reasons!

The Mayor stated that all the complaints had been addressed and compliance from the neighbor had been achieved. The man then stated that the forms may be falsified.

He also mentioned that he had signed for his neighbor's certified letters and then placed them into the neighbor's mailbox.

He then suggested the city eminent domain the neighbor's property and make it a park!


VI. Public Hearings.

1. Christian Brothers.

Basically, everyone who spoke wants Christian Brothers Auto repair in Rockwall, but not in Rockwall. Christian Brothers will soon be applying for an SUP to install a quantum tear in the fabric of the universe to open in Rockwall.

Speaker 1: Opposes because it is a "gateway to the hospital district".The first time opposition was because the first site was a "gateway to the city".

Speaker 2: Represents former owner of the land and supports because it will produce tax revenue and is a good fit for the area.

Speaker 3: Real estate broker that brought CB to the site. Was also responsible for bringing in many of the other business in this Planned Development District (PD-9). PD-9 encourages "mixed use" not just medical.

Speaker 4: Guy from secret cove neighborhood noted that his neighborhood "accepted" the hospital into the area (wasn't that nice of him!) He then spent 10 minutes randomly saying words before finally stating he would like to talk about the 7-11 (which is a done deal) as he didn't get a chance to oppose it at one of the multiple public hearings held over the last few months. (I may have added that last part.)

Speaker 5: Representative of the owner of the lot adjacent to the south opposes.

Speaker 6: A neighbor from the Fox Chase neighborhood supports it! She said if she worked in one of the nearby buildings it would be nice and convenient to have something like that close to work.

Speaker 7: Representative of the owner of the lot adjacent to the west opposes. He also thought the city would spend 100% of it's resources constantly watching over the day-to-day activities of the place to ensure compliance with the SUP.

Speaker 8: Owner of competition. Opposed.

Speaker 9: Representative of the hospital opposes.

Speaker 10: A different competitor who thinks it impossible to fit that building onto the land. (Hello! Quantum tear in the universe ring a bell??)

David Sweet opposes because all the land owners around oppose.

Matt Scott opposes because he says it is not the best use of the land. (Does that imply an empty lot is a better use of the land?)

Margo Nielsen supports as the land has been vacant for 5 years and no medical has been developed. Bird in the hand? Yes.

Mayor Cecil opposes, says it is no good next to a medical facility.

Glen Farris noted that another local auto repair business got council support when they wanted to go where that business it "wouldn't fit". He supports the SUP also stating no medical use had been developed for that spot.

Mark Russo opposed, agreeing with others that it "didn't fit".

Christian Brothers denied (again) 5-2.

The Christian Brother's representative then asked where would the city like them to open??? Fingers were then inserted into ears and loud humming commenced.

2. A guy wants to move his fence a couple feet out from it's exiting spot on the side of his home. Of course, government made this a difficult task because if you live on a corner you have 2 "front" yards. This made his fence request technically a front yard fence request requiring council's blessing.

The public hearing was open, no one chose to speak, and then the public hearing was CLOSED.

But, some lady decided she didn't understand what the heck anyone was talking about, so the public hearing was reopened. Didn't realize that was allowed.

After 3 hours of explaining what was the plan with the fence, the lady gave her blessing (not that it was needed...) and council allowed the fence by a vote of 5-0 (Matt Scott left and Mark Russo recused himself.)

V. Action Items.

1. Consideration of city wide banning of free newspapers and flyers to homes and other locations tabled for the second time.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rockwall City Council 05 April

I am quite pleased at the hundred or so inquiries at my lack of updates since my last post.

Actions from Executive Session - Right-of-Way stuff for airport road.

III. Proclamations.

- Bunch of Boy Scouts were present fulfilling requirements for a merit badge.

2. Rockwall Environmental Action Day aka Hazardous Crap Your Neighbor Didn't Know About Day. On April 17 at the city service center, you can finally get rid of all those half-empty paint cans, broken electronics, old tires, etc that you have been "saving". Warning: you may sit in line for up to an hour or more. Take your Kindle.

1. Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month.

IV. Open Forum.

1. Rockwall Music Fest lady came to thank the city for whatever it is the city did. Probably for money.

2. Guy from Community Waste Disposal wants the city to know that he can pick up trash cheaper than Allied. Heck, if he can get the bulk trash in my neighborhood picked up when it is supposed to, as opposed to Allied which last month too 3 weeks to pick up my neighbors even after repeated communication with the city, I'm all for the change!

3. 17-year Mayor of McClendom-Chisholm thanked the city for all the years of working together between Rockwall and McClendom-Chisholm. Gonna go out on a limb and say Rockwall has probably contributed a whole lot more to McClendom-Chishom than the other way around.

V. Consent Agenda.

No items pulled. 1-4 were about minutes, and 5 has the words "change order". Usually, "change order" = more money being spent.

VI. Appointments.

1. P&Z Chairman Michael Hunter to let council know that the much anticipated 7-11 at the corner of Tubbs and Horizon passed P&Z by a vote of 4-1.

2. Some guys from the US Coast Guard Auxiliary stopped by to promote boater safety. They are also recruiting and want to work with the city to further educate boaters.

There was then a debate about VHF vs UHF radios. I think UHF won.

3. Tabled until next meeting. Sounded like a real snoozer anyway.

4. Members of the Environmental Subcommittee presented a power point. (In case you were unaware, city staff loves power point presentation more than Lit'l Smokies and sheetcake.)

Conclusion: we are green.

I hope the reduction in energy usage (read: money) reflects as a reduction of taxes!

VII. Public Hearing.

1. Basically, 7-11 wants to put in a store with more than 2 gas pumps. That requires an SUP from the city as does any other gas station that comes in anywhere in the city. This gives folks the opportunity to micro-engineer the 7-11, especially in the aesthetics department.

Notices went out to all property owners (5) within 200' as required by state law and city ordinance. 3 came back, all in favor.

The 7-11 folks also made all the changes that the P&Z wanted.

It was mentioned that the near-by neighborhood (Fox Chase) had some concerns. Not mentioned at this point is that 2 other neighborhoods (Windmill Ridge and Lake Rockwall) are also nearby (and in fact closer).

Issues and suggetions raised during public hearing:

-Alcohol will be sold close to a park (Not illegal according to state law. In fact the city of Rockwall allows drinking in one of our very on Non-park parks: the Harbor.)
-Alcohol will be sold close to a hospital. (State law limits sales of alcohol near a hospital at 300', front door to front door. The 7-11 is well over 400' from the hospital.)
-7-11 will increase crime. Because nothing entices criminal activity like fruit pies and a Slurpee.
-Too much noise (FYI the 7-11 in on a major arterial road, someday at least 4-lane, as weall as next to a hospital with a helipad.
-Safety issues. Didn't elaborate, probably means the coffee is too hot.
-6 pumps is too many. How someone not in the gas station business knows this is beyond me.
-Limit the hours to 8-5. Do they not know where the name 7-11 even comes from??
-Protect children. (Parents: that's your job.)
-Too much traffic. I am guessing the thinking is that people from all over Rockwall will drive all
the way across town passing 3 other 7-11's as well as a multitude of convenience stores and grocery stores to come to this 7-11.
-Will negatively affect what other kinds of businesses might go there. Because NObody ever wants to have an office near a convenience store...
-This is a bad location for a 7-11. This had been brought up by others. What gets me is why the world's most successful franchiser has not snapped these people up to help them make real money! 7-11 wating alot of money on research and marketing when all they need to do is just ask some random guy on the street where they shouldn't put a store.
-The Kroger and Walgreens are close enough for the hospital people. Those sound more like inconvenience stores.
-Not compatible with that area. This dispite the fact that the developer and 7-11 say it is.
-No good that it is open 24 hours next to hospital also open 24 hours.
-People will drink at the 7-11. (Against the law.)
-People will drink at the park. (Against the law.)
-People will furnish alcohol to minors (Against the law.)

It was mentioned by Councilman Scott that these folks were outside the 200' range of the city requirement for notification, but he had tried to get it extended to 1000' but failed. I guess the implication is that more in Fox Chase would have notified and been able to get involved had he gotten his way.

Notice this map:

The square is the location of the 7-11/ Future Medical Office Site. Big Circle is 1000' from the site and the little circle is 200' from the site.

At 1000' the notices would have gone out to many more property owners, that's true. Notices going out implies that those being notified are those who could been affected by the zoning request.

At 1000' here is an approximate breakdown of additional homes that would have received notification at 1000':

7 homes in Fox Chase.
25 homes in Windmill Ridge
35 homes in Lake Rockwall Estates.

Fact: my home is closer to the 1000' mark (about 3 houses out) than anyone else who spoke from Fox Chase who opposed the 7-11!

Councilman Farris stated that this is a good business for Rockwall, the 2-pump ordinance is antiquated, and with the 7-11 you are getting a known good business versus taking the chance at getting a bad business at that spot.

Councilman Sevier noted that nothing can stop the sale of alcohol at that location. I'll repeat: Nothing can stop the sale of alcohol at that location. Nothing can stop the sale of alcohol at that location. Nothing can stop the sale of alcohol at that location.

He noted that the Kroger is as close to Fox Chase and it sells alcohol.

He also mentioned that the P&Z asked for and received many concessions from 7-11 and the only real issues is the number of pumps requested.

Councilman Scott stated his opposition was based on the sale of alcohol near the park.

Mr Farris rebutted that we then must make a choice: get rid of alcohol sales or get rid of parks.

Councilman Scott then stated he was "disappointed" that Mr Farris would make such a "flippant" remark. Mr Scott was "disappointed" that Mr Farris would make such a "flippant" remark? Shall I do an Open Records Request to find other flippant remarks not made by Mr Farris?

Councilman "Gabbby" Sweet said this was one of the top 700 toughest decisions he has had to make on council and gave 4,129 reasons why.

Where was the concern about alcohol when those opposed were supporting the ordinance to make Rockwall "wet"?

Where was the concern about alcohol when those opposed were supporting the ordinance to make The Harbor "wet"?

Where was the concern about alcohol when those opposed were supporting the ordinance to make Downtown "wet"?

Passes 5-2, Sweet and Scott opposed.

VII. Site Plans/Replat.

1. Canyon Ridge apartments. HOA and the apartments came to an agreement on whatever the problem was. Passes.

IX. Fella with part of his land in Rockwall's ETJ and part in McClendom-Chisholm's ETJ wants it in one or the other, preferably McClendom-Chisholm's ETJ.

Most would like to put this through a long drawn out process, but councilman Sevier had the brilliant idea to not put this through a long drawn out process. His idea was to take action and give the guy what he wants (to be removed from Rockwall's ETJ).

Some staff and council were apprehensive that we would lose around 150 acres of the city and get nothing! That's probably like a couple hundred dollars a year in taxes we could lose!

Councilman "Gabby" Sweet had a few hundred things to say about it as well.

Mr Sevier made a motion to remove the land from the ETJ, passed 5-2 (Nielsen and Farris opposed.)

2. Social media discussion again. 45 minutes basically talking about Facebook which is about 44 minutes and 45 seconds longer than I wanted to hear about Facebook.

Councilmen Farris, Russo, and Sweet talked a lot about this. Now 3 "Gabby's".

Motion to accept the policy regarding social media passed 6-1, Russo opposed.

3. Budget stuff for about 15 minutes. Money comes in, money goes out.

4. Last item postponed to next meeting.

And since you, the reader, stuck around to the end, I present this video of a baby doing his best impression of our very own "Gabby"-est councilman.