Editor: Shannon Cottongame
May 26, 2022
Whitney Mayor Brad Slaten announced that he will be relocating and stepping down from his position this summer during a meeting of the Whitney City Council held Monday, May 16. Council members beginning new terms were also sworn in during the meeting, and the council approved annexation requests related to planned commercial and residential developments.
The mayor said that he was reappointed to pastor Grace United Methodist Church of Copperas Cove on May 1, and he will relocate around the first of July. Slaten said that his statement was not yet a formal notification, but he wanted to make the council aware of the situation so preparations can be made.
New and returning council members were also sworn in at the meeting. Martis Ward, former Precinct 1 justice of the peace and longtime Whitney business owner, was sworn in by current Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Trey Jetton. Judge Jetton also administered the oath to incumbents beginning new terms, Jerry Barker and Valery Peacock.
The council approved two annexation requests from property owners.
David and Kim Mabry submitted an annexation petition for 5.2 acres located in the area of 906 South Bosque Street. The request is reportedly related to the planned development of an Allsup’s convenience store in Whitney, but final details have not yet been released by the city or company.
Another annexation petition was approved for Movin On In Properties LLC for approximately 75 acres of land located west of North Brazos Street and east of HCR 1236. Prior to the vote, the mayor pointed out that if the council approved the request, it would be setting in motion a project comparable to the Trinity Estates housing development that was previously approved.
Council member Jerry Barker pointed out that the planned development is in the city’s water and sewer service area whether the city annexes the land or not. He said it would benefit the city to annex it to ensure the subdivision complies with the city’s ordinances and give the city some regulatory control over the developer’s plans.
Public hearings will be set on the proposed annexations, and written agreements will be negotiated.
Newly installed council member Ward abstained from the two votes.
Whitney Police Chief/City Administrator Chris Bentley introduced new police officers to the council. Alex Tillman, Ronnie Agpalza, David Chin and Jessica Castro were welcomed to the department by council members.
The council discussed a mobile food vendor ordinance but opted to table the item until a workshop can be held and public input is sought. Bentley said that the mayor had asked him to review the ordinance and he worked with the city attorney to create a proposed ordinance based on other city’s ordinances.
The ordinance would require vendors to obtain a permit and comply with certain regulations involving fire code, proximity to certain businesses, residences and thoroughfares, the types of surfaces that trailers can be placed on and health and safety matters.
Bentley said that the mobile food vendor industry is not regulated by the state and it is up to the city to make its own law.
Council member Barker expressed concern about the ordinance as written, noting that the ordinances used as reference were passed by larger cities like Waxahachie and Midlothian and would put a lot of expectations on vendors. Bentley pointed out that it is difficult to find small cities that have such ordinances, which is why larger cities’ ordinances were used.
Mayor Slaten said that the intent was to update Whitney’s ordinance, which is outdated and not applicable to the city. He said that the focus is ensuring that health codes are being met, but said that the city wants to encourage food trucks.
The matter is expected to be reviewed again in a workshop before action is taken with public input.
No action was taken on a property setback variance request from J Fox Investments to build three homes in the city. The mayor said that it is the council’s policy not to take action on such requests if a representative is not present.
The council convened in a closed session to discuss a request from Ayushi Agarwala of Health Now Urgent Care to extend the clinic’s city tax abatement for the next five years. Agarwala made the request based on growth created and the clinic’s employment numbers. The issue was tabled when open session resumed.
Public Works Director Billy Pribble reported that restrooms were recently vandalized at the city park and are now operational while full repairs are evaluated. He said that the fence at Turner Place discussed last month has been repaired at under one-third of the previously approved amount, and his department had success finding an employee through a temp service as suggested by Barker at a previous meeting.
In public comments, Whitney resident Sandy May asked for clarification on the enforcement of city codes and ordinances. She presented concerns including vacant downtown buildings in poor condition, overgrown alleys, abandoned homes, junk vehicles and tall grass and weeds.
The council’s next regular meeting date will be Monday, June 20.