Editor: Shannon Cottongame
July 28, 2021
The Whitney City Council heard monthly reports, received comments from citizens and approved special event permits in a meeting held Monday evening, July 19.
At last month’s meeting, Mayor Brad Slaten encouraged council members to attend events and be visible to represent the city and visit with the citizens they represent. This month, the mayor stressed the importance of citizens communicating with the council. He asked residents and business owners to express their ideas and goals with council members and invite them to events.
“No member of the city council nor the mayor of this great city can reasonably be expected to know the thoughts and priorities of the citizens that we represent without those same citizens communicating with us,” the mayor said.
“Without communication of goals and ideals to the council members it is unreasonable to expect city council members to support those goals,” he said. “While your elected representatives have a certain degree of autonomy in making decisions that they believe are in the best interest of Whitney and its citizens, I firmly believe that each member of this council wants to understand the will of their constituents.”
The mayor said that citizens can contact members individually or leave a message with staff at City Hall. He said that he can also be reached through his email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In departmental reports, Whitney Fire Chief Wayland Price said that Texas A&M fire training is resuming in September after being paused due to the pandemic, and fire classes will once again be offered locally. Price said that the fire department is also heavily involved in Emergency Services District (ESD) 1 fire department training sessions that will begin in September.
City Administrator/Police Chief Chris Bentley reported that the department’s remaining five police officers who have not completed emergency medical services training will begin training with CareFlite in August. By cross training police officers to be emergency care attendants, they can assist ambulance crews when needed.
He added that staffing on the ambulance is doing well, with a new paramedic added to the crew.
Bentley said that with the help of the department’s K-9 unit, officers recently made four narcotics arrests during traffic stops.
Public Works Administrator Billy Pribble said that his department is actively working on issues brought up by citizens, including concerns about storm water drainage. Work is currently underway in the area of North Guadalupe and North San Marcos between Hayes and Roosevelt streets, which Pribble said is one of the major tributaries to the creek. He said that crews are clearing out overgrown areas, noting that work has to begin at the lower end and work its way up to get water flowing.
In public comments, Sharon Weeks Harper requested that the field in front of her house at the corner of North Colorado and West Wilson be mowed. She stated that she has been requesting that the property be addressed since April and has been informed that the city is awaiting a response from the property owner. Harper requested that something be done about the property, which she said affects 17 dwellings and a senior living facility.
Moving on to the regular agenda, the council discussed the drainage issues brought up by Martis Ward at last month’s council meeting. Bentley reported that the city engineer is assessing the issue to determine the best course of action. Action was tabled pending that report.
The council authorized Bentley to accept an application for a variance to the ordinance regarding long-term habitation of a travel trailer from Glen and Jeannie Koons. Bentley said that they plan to live in a travel trailer for a brief period of time, not to exceed 90 days, on property that they own while their home is being built.
A special event permit was approved for Lake Whitney Chamber of Commerce ahead of this year’s Pioneer Days festival on Saturday, October 2. The permit will allow the chamber to block off Railroad Avenue for the carnival from Wednesday, September 29, through Sunday, October 3.
Another special event permit was approved for the “Battle of the Bench” event scheduled for Saturday, August 14, in downtown Whitney. Anne Chastain of Juniper Cove Winery is planning the event to rededicate the refurbished bench outside of her business, which was the site of the historic “Battle of the Benches” in Whitney. A small portion of Brazos Street between Washington and Railroad Avenue will be closed for the event. More details about this event will be featured in upcoming editions of The Lakelander.
A zoning request was approved for five acres of land at J Greer Abstract A-320 Tract 27D from agricultural use to business district 2 use. The applicant is planning to construct a motel and small restaurant in the city.
No action was taken on another rezoning request to change zoning for property located at Y Addition Block 2 Lot 12 from single family to mobile home. Bentley said that the issue cannot be taken up by the council on the advice of the city attorney, as it would be a zoning change that would create a “spot zoning” issue.
The council convened in closed session to discuss the sale of property containing the old tennis courts on Cleveland Avenue, but no action was taken when open session resumed.