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Date Posted: 07:00:14 08/15/17 Tue
Author: River Oaks Reporter
Subject: Synopsis of River Oaks City Council Meeting August 8, 2017

the meeting started on time. All members present.

First item on the agenda was approval of the consent agenda. Item of interests was approval of resignation of Fire Chief Shelley effective Sept 30, 2017. Also, approved hiring Jeanette Winter as library director.

Next was to consider request Jayna Shepherd requesting a water bill adjustment for the property at 4904 Hope. This is a vacant house that is for sale. It's been vacant for awhile and when she saw one water bill it was 53.00 higher than normal. The only people in the house were realtors. She stated that most cities will reimburse the overage once you show you have made repairs. Holland requested her to name the cities. She named a few. He didn't consider that most and that our city's policy is not to refund. Mayor Pro Tem Ashton suggested tabling this issue until he could call other city's and see what they do on these type issues. Holland snapped back that we do not have time to deal with this issue that we have a budget and a new fire chief to look for to spend out time on. Ashton restated we can do two things at once and that he would do it on his own time because it would look bad to deny this request only to change the ordinance down the road. Holland immediately made a motion to deny. Bruce Scott, Joann Butler and Dan Chisholm all voted to deny. Joe Ashton voted against the denial.

Council approved the new employee health care plan that was presented by Dawn Brinson of Brinson Benefits. For once the city gets some good news on this. Originally, Blue Cross/Blue Shield wanted a 17% increase. She countered with a way lower increase which they denied. So she started going out for bids and then BCBS came back with no increase.

Council approved to award construction contract to Gracon Construction for the reconstruction of the water plant clarifier. This is at a cost of 500,062.

Council approved the contract with No Dig Tech for emergency sewer line bursting in the rear properties at 4832-4844 Ohio Garden Rd for 30,000.

Now for the main event of the evening: A Public Hearing on the City Text Amendments. It states it is continued from July 25th, but this has been going on a lot longer than this. I don't know how many times it's been before Planning and Zoning. It's been before ZBA and even a workshop between council and Planning and Zoning. After the last lengthy council meeting the mayor appointed Mayor Pro Tem Ashton to pick a committee and try to bring before council something they can vote on. The members of that committee were Ashton, Police Chief Spieldenner, Building Inspector Steve Sanders and myself. The goal of this committee was to bring forth some clarity so that council could vote on these issues. At this point, Mayor Pro Tem Ashton started reading the results of the changes that the committee came up with. This was an open public forum at this point so members of the public could participate. Although, for some reason, every time a council person tried to speak during the public hearing, Councilman Holland cut them off and stated wait until we close the public hearing. This whole agenda item went on for almost two hours so excuse me while I just hit the highlights. Once the public hearing was closed Councilman Holland went over each item letter by letter. It was the special committee recommendation that gravel driveways be defined as being bordered and maintained. There would be no shape, design rules or depth of gravel or road fill required. Strictly bordered and maintained. NO ruts, no dirt, no grass and weeds or debris. The board also allowed a gravel driveway to be widened as to allow to get a car off the street or allow someone to park a boat beside the garage. As you can imagine this stirred quite a controversy. Ashton recommended that if there is an issue with this they could take it to Zoning Board of Adjustments. Holland seemed to feel this would be a better issue to come to council. Another issue was changing the depth of corner lots to allow for additional building as was done by Don Istook in other areas of the city. Although Ashton approved this change, he really wasn't for it.

The next item in the zoning changes regards masonry exteriors in both commercial and residential. This is also known as the PSD Rule! The special committee recommended 50% masonry in commercial to allow businesses should they choose to put their own face on their business. Not every business wants austin stone design. Holland felt we need to stick to the 75% rule. Ashton felt we need to give businesses a little more option on the front of their building. It was compromised to send an issue like this to Zoning Board of Adjustments and give the board a new term to deal with issues like this. The attorney and Ashton came up with a special exemption permit to apply to these businesses and it may also wind up applying the gravel driveways. We won't know until council votes. This could change. This is also good for Zoning Board of Adjustments since most of their issues are cut and dried. And they are not given much gray area to deal with. As part of this ordinance. Any house on a corner lot that has a garage in the back, the materials on the garage are suppose to be of matching materials of the house or other home building materials. The term Holland used was calling them a barn at present time and used the garage on Roberts Cut Off across from the Community Center as an example.

As this kept dragging on there was an recommendation by one of the council members to table it again. Zoning Official Steve Sanders pushed to keep going.

The last item,and one I get blamed for, was to require on new house construction only, to require a two car garage. The reason is simple: As we go forward this would give more room for off street parking, which is a big problem in our city. There was questions that some lots this wouldn't work. This is when Ashton brought up they could go to Zoning Board of Adjustments and get a exemption under the new permit plan. Holland didn't seem to warm to plan, thinking every house would look the same with a big garage facing the street. Ashton countered with let's make it requested for all lots and required on all lots 10,000 ft or bigger. Finally, this was sent to Marvin. Council did not take a final vote because Holland wanted to see the changes in writing. This will come back up AGAIN August 26.

Next item was draft the 2018 proposed budget for general and water funds. No open discussion was had during this presentation. As a matter of fact, nothing was presented.

Council scheduled a public hearing for adopting the 2018 operating budget for Sept 5, 2017.

Meeting Adjourned.

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