City council accepts offer for Boys Ranch Road property
By LYNETTE SOWELL
The Copperas Cove city council voted on Tuesday night to accept the offer of $88,246 for the 15.744 acres on Boys Ranch Road that it has leased to the Copperas Cove Saddle Club since 1993.
The purchaser is Gary Vaughn, who along with his wife had addressed the council during previous meetings and urged them to go forward with property sale. The Vaughns said while they sympathized with the club, their intent was to purchase the property for their family. At that time, the Vaughns didn’t know who the highest offer had come from. The Vaughns were present at Tuesday night’s meeting but did not address the council.
The city received five offers for the property, with the Vaughns’ offer being the highest, which was revealed on the agenda item for Tuesday night’s meeting. Saddle Club member Anton Pospisil submitted an offer of $69,900 on the property, which while not the lowest offer, was in line with the fair market value, according a prior meeting’s agenda documents.
Pospisil again made an appeal to the council during citizens’ forum on Tuesday evening for the council to not approve the bid and read an editorial from the May 9 Copperas Cove Leader-Press. He was followed at the podium by club president Ann Wyatt, and club treasurer Tracy Wilson.
“Our thing is, we just feel that we’ve been treated unfairly,” Wyatt told the council. “This whole thing has just been a mess.”
During the meeting, the council voted 6-1 to accept the bid from the Vaughns and authorize city manager Andrea Gardner to execute closing documents on the property, with councilman Kirby Lack casting the lone nay vote.
At the conclusion of the meeting, councilman Matt Russell requested that his fellow councilmembers consider taking a re-vote on accepting the bid. Upon the advice of city attorney Habib Erkan, the council retreated into an executive session for discussion.
They emerged from the session, with Russell calling for a re-vote, which was only supported by Lack, and thus the re-vote never took place. At the May 2 council meeting, the council’s votes were split 3-3 to rescind their earlier decision to remove the property from the market. Mayor Frank Seffrood cast the deciding vote at that time.
The Copperas Cove Saddle Club’s lease with the City of Copperas Cove was renewed by the council in February 2016 and expires in March 2018. Meanwhile, the club is searching for another site with the acreage available to reinstall their arena at that location and hold their events.
Another city-owned property that is leased to a nonprofit organization is the former police station located on South 4th Street. That lease is with Star Group-Veterans Helping Veterans and was last renewed in February 2017 and goes through February 2019.
The city also leases a property located at 1105 Leonhard St. to Head Start, operated by the Hill Country Community Action Association.
Also at Tuesday night’s meeting, the council approved a change order authorization for the dais construction in the meeting room at the city’s new IT building on South 2nd Street. The change order was for $2,600 in additional funding for the $20,000 dais project for a granite countertop instead of laminate.
The council approved the funds for a float for the Five Hills Scholarship Pageant, with the quote of $19,930.08 from Loan Star Parade floats. It was discussed that the float would be the property of the City of Copperas Cove. The matter of where to store the float came up during the discussion and also if other groups would be able to use the float as well.
Funds were previously earmarked in the general fund for 2015-2016 for the float, but were never spent during that time period.
The council did approve an agreement with Hawaiian Grill to take over running the concessions at the Hills of Cove Golf Course in June. According to the terms of the agreement, the Hawaiian Grill will give 6 percent of its net revenue to the city, starting in December 2017.
One portion of the agreement was removed by the council, that of giving Hawaiian Grill the first “right of refusal” for catering events at the Copperas Cove Civic Center when that facility is rented. However, during discussion the council said this could possibly hinder groups who planned to serve food when renting the civic center for an event, if they didn’t want to cater a Hawaiian meal for their menu.
“You have these other entities that have events there, Sausage Fest, Thanksgiving dinner, things of that nature that aren’t necessarily the Hawaiian Grill’s food. I think to have a preferred list, another option without penalty, you’re on the right line with that. I’d hate to see the Civic Center not be utilized because of that first right to refuse there,” said councilman David Morris.
The wording “pre-qualified” was removed as well and replaced with “preferred.” Councilman James Pierce Jr. kicked off that discussion, stating he didn’t want to show favoritism to a private company to provide services for the city.
Parks & Recreation director Joe Brown gave the example of the Killeen Civic Center, which maintains a list of prequalified vendors from which groups may choose for catering when renting the civic center. He also said this was something he was interested in developing for the Copperas Cove Civic Center.
City manager Andrea Gardner did not want to move in that direction.
“That’s really concerning to me because there’s enough blame that gets placed on different members of the city staff as it is…the first time somebody doesn’t get what their expectations are, guess what? Who’s going to get the complaint? It’s going to be the city’s fault because we had them on a prequalified list,” she said. She added that the reason Hawaiian Grill would be “preferred” because historically the concessionaire at the golf course has had difficulty succeeding and this was one way to help them succeed.
The council also held six public hearings on Tuesday, four for rezoning and two for Future Land Use Plan Amendments, which were followed by votes for approval at the meeting.
603 Teinert Ave. was rezoned from R1 (Single-Family Residential) to B3 (Retail Commercial District); the properties at 1714, 1718, and 1722 Risen Star Ln. were rezoned from B5 (Commercial District) to R3 (Multi-Family Residential District). City Hall, located at 914 S. Main St., was rezoned from B2 (Retail District) to (PF) Public Facility; and the Copperas Cove Police Department at 302 E. Ave. E was rezoned from R1 (Single-Family Residential) to (PF) Public Facility.
Amendments to the city’s Future Land Use Plan were also approved for the properties at 603 Teinert Ave. along with the properties at 1714, 1718, and 1722 Risen Star Ln.
Atmos Energy customers are facing rate increases, after a proposal from Atmos Energy. That company along with Atmos Texas Municipalities, to which the City of Copperas Cove belongs, reached a settlement in the rate review for 2017 for $48 million.
Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful also recognized volunteers for the inaugural Spring Eco Fling, held on April 29 at Ogletree Gap Park. National Honor Society members as well as the previous Rabbit Fest royalty volunteered for that event.