Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rockwall City Council 21 June

III. Proclamations.

1. Taylor Lipsett Day. City recognized the achievements of paralympian, Taylor Lipsett. He showed the mayor his gold medal, which the mayor passed around council. Surprisingly, no one on council spent 30 minutes grandstanding - they saved that for later.

After the presentation, the mayor told Mr Lipsett and his entourage that they were welcome to stay for the rest of the meeting. They left. (Must have been to council before?)

IV. Consent Agenda.

None pulled. The 2nd reading of speed limit change for 3097/Horizon Rd. Still don't know what the change is. They must be lowering it to match the speed of the majority of drivers who like to go 20 mph under the posted speed limit. (That is when heading south, they like to go 20 mph over when heading north, guess they think that makes it even.)

V. Appointments.

1. P&Z Vice Chair Phillip Herbst talked about the site plans and public hearing items on tonights agenda. P&Z recommended approval of SUP's for 2 antique stores, so long as they don't have any outside displays. Concern about the stores the stores looking too much like an antique store and such.

They did not approve a request by Olive Garden to use fake stone over natural stone. The only fakeness allowed, is the authenticity of the food.

2. Resident wants to build a shade structure on the take-line. Weird restrictions by city of Dallas prevent things from being built below certain a certain sea level. (438ft) Dallas has to get involved and approve.

There were concerns that the structure, which is smaller than a gazebo which the city allows without begging, being built would hinder views that a gazebo (which he wouldn't have to come to council and beg) would obstruct. The question is only in regards to the city of Dallas restriction of being built below a certain sea level.

Of course, this doesn't stop council from getting involved to address issues that didn't exist until they magically appeared in their heads.

3. A rep for the downtown shops has some concerns. Not enough parking, and the parking that does exist, no lights. People can't cross Fanin street, cars come too fast. More planters and benches, or move the ones that are there. Black street lights would be better than bronze street lights. Trippy. Lots more Christmas decorations. (Presumably during Christmas.)

Council mentioned that many of the concerns were already being discussed and are in planning stages. Council not getting people directly affected involved in the planning stages of a project? Unpossible.

Kind of a long discussion, would have been shorter if there wasn't an open seat for the Mayor's race next year...

VI. Public Hearings.

1. 1st antique store. Lady won't have any outside displays, doesn't want to have outside displays, and even if she did want either, she wouldn't be allowed.

Council approved 7-0.

2. 2nd antique store. Pretty much same as before, except this applicant finds out at the last minute that she won't have anywhere for her customers to parking, nor anyplace to accept deliveries. The owners of the parking lot behind her shop sent a letter to council stating such.

One of the mayoral candidates, wanting to appear as the great moral arbiter, proposed postponing the request until the parking situation which has nothing to do with the city could be worked out.

The current mayor smartly suggested passing the 1st reading and allowing it to move forward so as not to delay the desired opening date of July 15.

17 hours later with the issue so fart pounded into the ground that Australians were now involved, they passed first reading of the ordinance, 7-0.

Mayor Cecil then spent 10 minutes letting non-regulars to the meeting know that the council likes to move meetings along quickly. Guess I missed those.

VIII. Action Items.

1. City starting process to take over the cemetery along 205. Passes 7-0.

Back to VI. Public Hearings.

3. Bunch of code/ordinance "clean up". passes 7-0.

VIII. Site Plans/Plats.

1. The undeveloped area around Best Buy is about to be developed. Yay.

Developers want some variances for the architectural requirements.

Power point.

Some of the new stores coming in: Home Goods, Joann, Freebirds, Vitamin Shoppe, SmashBurger, another secret tenant, and Olive Garden. (<-- WARNING don't click if very easily offended)

Councilman Scott (in one of his blind squirrel finding a nut moments) asked the developer if they could get a Chuy's and Dairy Queen. (Attention U-haulers - we had one, closed long time ago.)

Chuy's passed, DQ not asked.

He also asked about a clock tower that no one remembered.

The Olive Garden rep then presented to council samples of the fake stone they want to use on the facade. Council liked.

Both variances approved 7-0.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rockwall City Council 7 June

III. Swearing in of Elected Officials. (The swearing of elected officials is behind closed doors, I am told.)

The mob has spoken and the .05% who showed up to vote have re-elected Mark Russo, Cliff Sevier and Margo Nielsen.

IV. Selection of Mayor Pro Tem - Probably gonna be Glen Farris, but was moved to executive session at the end of the meeting. Will have to wait til next time.

This is where the legally posted agenda diverges from the agenda used by council for this meeting. I am told it is ok to rewrite the agenda for 2 reasons:

1. No action taken on the item
2. "It's for a good cause" (Following the law is obviously not a good cause. After consulting with an attorney who is an expert on the Open Meetings Act, he did say it was probably ok since there was no action, but would have advised against changing the agenda since the law was a little murky. I took looked through the law and could not find an exception for "it's for a good cause.")

V. Distinguished Citizen Award "Beyond the Horizon"

Marilyn Mock the "Foreclosure Angel" received the award. She has helped 70 families stay in their homes.

She got a big plaque and an statue of an eagle.

VI. Open Forum

1. Fella who put in solar panels a while back wanted to give council an update. Thanks to "incentives" from the government (aka your's and my tax dollars"), 98% of the costs were covered. All his bills have dropped from $150 to $40.

He thanked the city for "all it did". Does obstructing count?

However, he did not thank anyone else for funding this project via tax dollars.

Your welcome.

VII. Consent Agenda.

None pulled.

#4 had something to do with changing the speed limit on 3097, but no one said what it was going to be. I can't imagine it being slower than 55 mph as everyone seems to drive 35 mph on it.

VIII. Appointments.

1. P&Z Chairman was a no-show!

2. Fella wants to break the world record for the "World's Largest Community Workout". Texas has a lot of fat people and the most cities on the "fattest cities in America" list.

The event will be at the Harbor and expects 3,000-5,000 people to participate.

This is associated with the "Get Fit" program introduced by Councilman Russo a while back, and Eclipse Fitness on the lake.

The organizer would like "support" from the city, specifically bathrooms, facilities, personnel and money - $5,000.

Glen Farris liked the idea as it would have a positive economic impact on the Harbor. He did not support the idea of giving away the $5,000 requested.

The other associated costs the city would be giving away would total about $1,000.

David Sweet then commented saying "tremendous", "absolutely no question", "struggling", "take me through the process", and "help me out". (If you have never been to council, he says those words a lot...)

City staff had already researched and "found" $5,000 in the general fund that the city could give for this event. (Didn't say if they had researched for grant money, more on that later...also didn't hear if the organizers had contacted local businesses and rich folk for the money.)

If he can't get the money, the event won't be as great as the organizer would like, e.g. no "free" T-shirts to give away.

And if the event brings in over $19,000, the organizer would give back the $5,000.

Margo Nielsen made the motion to approve the $5,000, noting that the city had committed to the Get Fit program and we must now support it.

Motion failed 5-2, Mayor Cecil also supported.

Glen Farris Asked for the item to come back to council in 2 weeks.

IX. Action Items

1. Lady in the Zoo wants to put up a carport to replace one that had fallen down. P&Z approved, 7-0. Council approved 7-0.

2. The "can't be tamed" expansion of city limits via annexation - procedures initiated to annex 4 areas.

3. Councilman Russo wants to get a citizen committee started to help find outside monies (private grants, sponsorships, etc) for various projects.

Glen Farris asked why not make this a staff directive. Mark Russo explained it would increase citizen involvement and save money. Mr Farris said staff does it well enough (fyi, staff did mention looking for any grant or outside money for the Get Fit item above. The $5,000 was "found" in the budget) and no need to get citizens to do this. Mr Scott agreed with Mr Farris' objections.

(Are they against citizen involvement or saving money?)

Mr Scott also expressed concern that people would commit to a civic position, and then "not show up".

This would be like a councilman showing up late, missing meetings, or coming and going during the meeting as he pleases, and that would be unacceptable.

4. Councilman Russo wants to form a volunteer program to get citizens to help out mowing right-of-way the city won't mow but a couple times a year. If any citizen also followed that model, he would be cited and fined by the city.

Basically, everyone hated the idea because high grass on city property = not dangerous, high grass on your property = dangerous and mowing is "risky" if citizens do it, too much liability if a rock goes flying into a windshield.

A while back the city had cut back on mowing some areas, unbeknown to the Mayor and others.

For the time being, the city thinks it best to do nothing and let the grass just be high. Who cares if another dog gets bit from a snake hiding in the city's high grass. Tethering is far more dangerous than snakes anyway, and that issue was already addressed.