Good morning everyone. This is my brief summary of last night's Dickinson City Council Meeting. As always, feel free to share it with any one whom you think would be interested. Let me know if you have any questions or comments about the meeting or the summary.
We began with a workshop meeting to begin the budget review process for the upcoming fiscal year. Staff presented us with a number of issues on which direction was needed. It does appear our current budget is doing very well, and that will make it easier to go into the next year.
Our regular meeting began with adoption of a resolution approving an agreement between the City and the County's Health District for animal control services.
We then passed a resolution approving an agreement between the City and Officer Bruce Stewart concerning 2 police service dogs. Officer Stewart owned the dogs, which our Police Department has been using under an agreement with him. It was decided for liability issues and to clarify the arrangement that the City should own them, so he sold them to the City for $1.00 for each dog. In three years, he will have the option to repurchase them for the price of $1.00 each.
Our Public Works Director briefed the Council on the status of various Public Works projects underway in the City.
Ms. Johnston, our City Administrator, informed us there was no news on the status of Hurricane Ike CDBG grant projects. We are still waiting for the State to approve contracts and give us the blessing to move forward with those projects.
We were also briefed on the status of current activities by the Dickinson Economic Development Corporation. The Board is working on its budget for next year, and is also awaiting responses to a Request for Proposals from developers for property owned by the DEDC on Hughes Road. Those responses are due around the first of August.
We held a public hearing on the proposed Highway 3 Overlay District which has been drafted by the Planning & Zoning Commission. Over about a year and a half, P&Z worked on this proposal, including meetings with the property owners on Highway 3. It was recently approved unanimously by P&Z, and sent to the Council for adoption.
The purpose of the District is to impact the future development of the property on Highway 3. The intent is to make it more accessible to pedestrians, and to return the buildings to the downtown Dickinson appearance of many years ago. As such, there are provisions which apply to the facades of new construction, vegetation screening and things of that nature. The regulations apply only to new business construction, and do not apply to residential buildings already in place. There are three sub-districts in the overlay area, the first dealing with property which fronts on Highway 3 or FM 517 within the area, which is currently zoned Commercial. The two other sub-districts are those off the main roads, in which the commercial development is or will be less intense or intrusive. The P&Z Board has clearly indicated the gradual change to the area will be a generational thing, and no one will be deprived of the property, forced to do any thing or lose any control of their current holdings. It is their clear hope that over the years, the overlay will lead to an increase in the value of the properties, as development upgrades and improves the appearance of the area.
There were a number of people who opposed the proposal, based on their belief it was right out of the United Nation's Agenda for the 21st Century, generally referred to as Agenda 21. Under their reasoning, the purpose of Agenda 21 is to do away with the idea of private property, and to take property away from the owners by the government. They believe it also wants to make people lose their cars, move into high density housing, and use mass transit.
Obviously, Council does not believe the members of the Planning & Zoning Commission are attempting to follow or implement Agenda 21, nor does it believe the purpose of the overlay district is to do any thing other than what it says it wants to do. That is to support the creation of an area similar in look and feel to what many regret has been lost, an older Downtown area.
After hearing from those opposed, those in favor and the chairman of the P&Z Commission, we voted to approve the ordinance on first reading, with Councilman Decker opposed.
We then received the quarterly finance report for the period ending March 31, 2012. It was presented by our new Finance Director, Walter Thomas, who assumed that position yesterday. He had been the interim director before that for a brief period. We welcome him to the City, and I was impressed with his presentation.
Councilman Suderman announced the Knights of Columbus will have a Fish Fry on August 3. It is a real good deal, good food and a good time. Be sure to put it on your calendar.
I want to thank all of you who have contacted me about the fact I will be leaving Council after the November election to replace me. I appreciate your kind comments, and especially those of you who have told me you will miss these summaries. I am glad you are reading them, and I checked as I started this one and discovered this summary is the 198th I have done. I will make sure I break 200 before November.
Our next meeting will be July 24. That is right in the middle of early voting for the run-off elections, so plan on voting and then attending the meeting and being part of your City.