Council approves Easy Street rezoning, holds hearings for tax rate and budget

By BRITTANY FHOLER 
Cove Leader-Press 

A number of residents showed up for a public hearing during Tuesday night's Copperas Cove city council meeting to amend the cit's Future Land Use Plan map as requested by Robert and Bonnie Herrings for 102 and 104 Easy St., from Low Density Residential to Retail, along with a rezoning hearing for the same properties.
Robert and Bonnie Herrings own and operate Century21 Realties and JR Rentals and Property Management and said they would like to build a 3,400 sq. ft. two-story commercial use real estate office building with 30 parking spaces to consolidate their two companies.
A total of 11 people spoke during the public hearing, with the majority against the proposed commercial building.
Bonnie Herrings spoke first and addressed concerns brought up previously. Regarding the rezoning from R-1 to B-2 or B-1, Herrings said that she and her husband are “fine with either one as long as it will accommodate the two-story commercial real estate property we are wanting to build.”
Herrings said that the design of the two-story building will be that of a residential type building that will be able to blend into the neighborhood and not look like an office building. 
Previous plans presented included a drive-through lane, which Herrings said they have dropped after realizing it wasn’t necessary since most of their customers pay their rent online. 
Regarding the positioning of the building, Herrings said that the building would be set up so that there would be no access to Easy Street from the building, only onto Parnell Street, which runs parallel to Bus, 190 and merges into Easy Street at the corner. 
The two homes currently on the lot are located on the east-facing side of Easy Street, with one on the corner of Easy and Parnell. 
“As we continue to modify our plan, with the attempt to work with our neighbors and the city, we are hoping for a win-win, not only just for us and our companies but for the entire city,” Herrings said. 
Several residents from Easy Street and surrounding streets spoke against the Herrings’ plans, including Shawn Camp, who lives up the street from the proposed building. 
“The question to access Easy Street or Parnell Street is really a moot point, because it’s where you go from that point is going to determine all the traffic,” Camp said. 
The Business 190 median project will affect how people can turn left from Parnell Street, he said. 
After the median is added, Camp said that the “primary way for traffic to enter and leave the proposed business is to exclusively use the entire length of Copperas Cove.” 
With the median, the driver would have to turn onto Parnell and then onto Easy Street to get to other streets like Creek or Bowden to get to Robertson Avenue to get back to the highway, he said. 
“Easy Street is not capable of handling the traffic load that commercial development entails,” Camp added. 
Hazel McBride, who has lived on Ridge Street for 48 years, located behind Easy Street, said she was fully opposed to this building. 
She said she thinks the commercial building will make the already bad traffic problems worse, especially during the school days and during football games, when people already park in front of her house. 
“These are older homes, yes, but these are our homes,” McBride said. “These are our family’s homes and they are going to be our children who can’t afford $2,000-a-month homes. We don’t make that kind of money in this city.”
Several residents mentioned that there are several other empty buildings suited for commercial purpose that might be better for this business, and McBride reiterated that point. 
“Find a nice commercial building. Put your employees in there and leave our families alone,” McBride said. “We don’t have room for you.”
Robert Herrings Jr. addressed some of the concerns brought up by residents of the neighborhood. 
“I am here to actually grow with this community. I’ve been in real estate for 21 years,” he said. “All of my investment is here in the great city of Copperas Cove.”
Herrings said he knew that there were a lot of empty commercial buildings in town, but they didn’t belong to him. 
“I would like build on my property without infringing on anyone’s property that is there in the area,” Herrings said. 
Regarding the traffic concerns brought up, Herrings explained that most of the business done by his employees is done through the internet or through apps like Zillow, Trulia, etc. 
“The amount of traffic that comes in and out of that building is not as much as it is embellished to be,” he said. “We just want to be honorable citizens consolidating two companies in one building, and we’re not talking about that many people, and we’re not talking about that many vehicles.”
Of the 29 or 30 parking spots, approximately 8 to 10 would be utilized regularly, he said. 
“We understand your concerns and we want to work with you to achieve greatness for this community,” Herrings said, before sitting down. 
Following the hearing, the city council unanimously approved the amendment request and moved into the next public hearing for the rezoning of the same property, from R-1 Single Family Residential District to B-2 Local Retail District. 
No one spoke during the public hearing. Following an amendment made by Council Member Jay Manning to change the rezoning to B-1 instead of B-2, council approved the amendment 5 to 1, with Council Member Marc Payne voting against. During the vote to approve the motion to rezone, the council again approved 5 to 1, with Payne voting against. 
The city council also held several public hearings, including the second hearing for the proposed FY 2020 tax rate and the second hearing for amending the FY 2019 budget. 
No one spoke during the second and final public hearing for the proposed FY 2020 tax rate of $0.7865 per $100 valuation, nor did anyone speak during a public hearing held for amendments made to the FY 2020 budget, which include the utility rate increases. The budget had originally factored those increases at $1 instead of the $2 that council agreed upon during the last council meeting. 
No one spoke during the third public hearing of the night, which was the second public hearing for amending the FY 2019 budget, with costs factored in for the $53,320 in fees related to acquiring land for a proposed land swap with Fort Hood as well as $3,568 to be used for the purchase of four scanners for the Municipal Court and $620 for headsets for the Municipal Court staff.
Council also held public hearings for the consideration to approve amendments to the Future Land Use Plan map requested by the Boys and Girls Club of Coryell County for Lot 2, Block 1 of the Wallace Vernon Addition, known locally as 306 Laura street, the site of the future permanent Boys and Girls Club facility, from Medium Density Residential to High Density Residential. Another public hearing was held regarding the same lot regarding the approval of the rezoning from B-4 General Retail District to R-3 Multi-family Residential District. Following the hearings, neither of which had speakers, council approved both action items. 
The city council also authorized the city manager to execute a professional services agreement for $154,870.00 with Utility Engineering Group (UEG) for the Pecan Cove Drive reconstruction and drainage improvements project for the design, project management and construction bidding. 

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