Council hears reports, approves zoning for planned development

Editor: Shannon Cottongame

December 22, 2022

The Whitney City Council met in a regular session Thursday, December 15 to consider regular monthly business and discuss rezoning requests.

At the beginning of the meeting, Council Member Martis Ward voted against approval of the minutes of the December 5 special council meeting, stating that he wanted it noted that he was not notified of the meeting.
In departmental reports, Mayor Jerry Barker recognized the Public Works Department and Event Coordinator Pam Townley for their work on the recent Christmas parade and tree lighting, which he was unable to attend due to illness. He said that the Whitney Housing Authority recently had an inspection and scored 99.77% out of a possible 100%, and he commended them for their efforts. The mayor also pointed out that sales tax revenue is up 23% in the city from last year.

In her report, Townley thanked the Public Works Department for its work on the Christmas lights and tree downtown and assistance with the parade, and she also recognized the fire department and police department for working together on the event. She said that a couple of glitches were identified and will be addressed next year, but the event went well overall.

Library Director Denise Carter was out sick but submitted her packet to the council, showing that the library had 530 visitors in November, issued 21 new library cards and offered 48 programs. The library is offering craft kits for children while they are out of school that can either be completed at the library or picked up to take home. They can also visit the library to use children’s computers, the Lego Creation Station, do puzzles, read books and more.

Interim Fire Chief Roy McCleary reported that the outdoor siren test was conducted this month with assistance from the Public Works Department, and four car batteries that the system runs on have been replaced. The next test will be January 2 and will be longer and louder. He is also working on setting up remote capabilities to allow the fire chief to activate the siren off site. Other than the tests, the plan is to only activate the siren when severe weather threatens to notify citizens to take shelter. Council members pointed out that if it is discovered that the siren can’t be heard all over town, the city may need to look into adding another one.

McCleary also said that blue reflective dots have been placed near fire hydrants in town to allow the fire department to find them quickly at night. A few more need to be ordered to complete the project, but most are in place. When the weather allows, hydrants need to be painted.

The fire department’s brush truck has been repaired, with 90% of the $6,000 cost being covered by the Texas Forest Service.

Overall, the fire department continues to have a need for more volunteers. In November, the department responded to 40 first responder calls, six vehicle accidents, one fire false alarm in the city, seven fires in the county and two rescue calls.

Public Works Director Billy Pribble reported that efforts to improve security are underway at the city park after the bathrooms were vandalized and facilities broken for the second time in the last six months. He said that he has also requested quotes for bathroom equipment that cannot be easily broken, noting that it may not be aesthetically pleasing but something must be done to stop the damage.

Pribble said that two fire hydrants were recently replaced and needed repairs have been identified on other hydrants. Training continues in the Public Works Department, and an employee recently received pest control training, which will allow the city to handle that work instead of working with a contractor. The department is also working on preparing fields at the city park for baseball/softball season.

In regular business, the council authorized a rezoning request from Shane Baker for 1218 North Brazos Street, which was once the site of Paul’s True Value. The council approved rezoning the 6.432 acres from Business District 2 to a Planned Unit Development. The change in classification would allow the property to be developed for several different types of uses.

The plan involves separating the property into six individual buildings with the goal of revitalizing the area and bringing in businesses. The zoning allows for a number of uses, including office facilities, retail stores, service facilities and non-nuisance light industrial businesses.

Another rezone request was approved to correct an issue in the 200 block of South Colorado Street dating back a number of years. The property is zoned as business and the resident wants to build a new house.
Council members appointed Charla Hays to the Whitney Housing Authority Board. She will replace Nellie Molidor, who has moved from the area.

The council also authorized the purchase of a used vehicle, or vehicles, up to $30,000 for the Public Works Department. The money was already budgeted for the purpose of a buying a new vehicle this year, but the volatile vehicle market has caused delays in purchasing the new Toyota Tacoma that the department planned to buy. This will allow the department to expand its fleet and move away from using its two Polaris Rangers, which Pribble said have high maintenance costs, are a problem in inclement weather and are not designed to be used as everyday vehicles.

A resolution was approved to allow the city to seek proposals for bank depository services from banks located within the city limits. Cities are required to issue a request for proposals for bank depository services at least every five years.

The council’s next regularly scheduled meeting date will be Thursday, January 19.

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