Council rezones Ridge Street property, postpones decision on parking ordinance
By LYNETTE SOWELL
After a public hearing, discussion and deliberation, the Copperas Cove city council voted to amend the city’s Future Land Use Plan where it concerns the property located at 101 Ridge St., changing that property’s designation from low density residential to retail.
The amendment passed 5-2, with councilmen James Pierce Jr. and Matthew Russell casting nay votes, expressing concerns about the increased traffic to the residential area nearby that could result from the change.
The zoning request for that same property, from R-1 Single Family Residential to B-3 Local Business District, didn’t pass as it was originally written. Instead, councilman Jay Manning made an amended motion to change the zoning of that property to B-1, more restrictive than B-3 yet looser than R-1.
A rezoning request goes with the property, City Planner Charlotte Hitchman reminded the council. There is currently a vacant single-family structure on the property, Hitchman said. It would also require a replat to join the plots together along with a new development on the property. Because the property adjoins a residential property, there is also a 50-foot side yard setback that would cause restrictions on the property.
The zoning request had been denied by the Planning & Zoning Commission by a vote of 4-2, and the city charter required the council must have three-fourths majority vote—six aye votes out of a total of eight council members—to override the commission’s decision.
The rezoning request included two letters of support for and also two letters of support against the changes.
Joel Duran, the property owner, shared some of his thoughts and plans for property.
“We want to do either an office type building, or if for some reason that doesn’t work for me, I’ve had some friends of mine say, ‘I’d love to put a doughnut shop or taqueria or something like that there.’ I’m sure it will benefit Coppers Cove and not be in an area where it’s low traffic.”
He also handed a drawing of the idea, which includes parking, to the council. He said there are several houses in the surrounding area which have all been vacant for some time.
In the end, council voted 6-1, to amend the agenda item to a property change of B-1, followed by another 6-1 vote to approve the rezoning to B-1, with Councilman Pierce voting against the amendment and the rezoning request.
The council held a second public hearing on proposed revisions to the city’s ordinances that concern the parking of trailers and RVs on the street, as well as vehicles parked in yards. When it came time to make a motion to take action on the changes, councilman James Pierce Jr. moved that the vote be postponed to the next council meeting due to the fact that this second public hearing was held during a holiday week and to give more people a chance to be involved, with councilman Jay Manning following the motion with an amendment of his own, to have another workshop for this ordinance change prior to the vote. Both were passed unanimously by the council members.
“I think it’s a good idea, so we can iron it out before we approve it, or disapprove it,” Pierce said.
City Manager Andrea Gardner gave an update on the status of the land exchange between the City of Copperas Cove and Fort Hood, with said update coming at the past request of a council member. Gardner gave the timeline of discussions and legislation for the land exchange, with said discussions beginning between Gardner and Fort Hood garrison commander Col. Elledge back in 2013.
Gardner said during the past land exchange between Fort Hood and the city, the legislation took the longest, but this time around, that hasn’t been the case. The city is in the process of acquiring the land which it will swap with Fort Hood. The land the city will gain is an “orphaned” triangular parcel of about 300 acres, formed with the creation of State Highway 9. The city plans to use that land for economic development purposes, Gardner said.
The council evaluated the services of the city’s municipal court judge, F.W. Price, along with the court’s associate judge, Lisa Kubala, during the meeting, approving them for two more years of service.
The temporary utility rate increases for 2017 will become a thing of the past as of Jan. 1, 2018, after the council voted to remove the additional temporary arrears fees it had approved last December.
However, with that fee reversal also comes the instatement of increased fees adopted for base water and sewer rates, along with the volumetric rates for both water and sewer that were approved by the council back on September 7. New base rates are $11.77 for water, up from $11 for residential customers; base rate for sewer, $12, up from $11; volumetric for water, $4.55, up from $4.05 per 1,000 gallons; volumetric for sewer, $6, up from $5.77.
The council unanimously voted to call a runoff election on December 12 for city council place six. Last Friday, the council canvassed the election results and both place six candidates, John A. Hull and Marc Payne, drew for the ballot positions.
The council also agreed to keep the December 5 regular and workshop meetings on the schedule as per usual.
During citizens forum, Rose Brimhall addressed the council, thanking the city for its contribution to last week’s Feast of Sharing and also expressed a concern to them of the fact that there’s no covered bus stop near Brookview Village apartments, a housing complex for the elderly, and asked if they could look at getting a cover for that bus stop so seniors don’t have to stand and wait in the rain for a bus.