By Andre James, Correspondent
The Belton City Council met to, along with other items, carry out the first reading of the annexation of the four growth management study areas. This part of the process is not only where the council members vote to accept non-annexation and development agreements and decide the initial areas to consider what properties in the areas to annex, but also speak on and discuss their views and why or why not to proceed with annexing an area. It’s important to note that areas selected for annexation are not final and can only be reduced during the second reading held at the next city council meeting.
“We have to plan for 10, 20, 30 years from now,” said Guy O’Banion. “Every decision we make can affect people 30 years from now, and if the council at that time is inheriting a problem we created from lack of action that’s wrong. So, we take these things very seriously, we’ll possibly lose some friends over this, but it’s not about that for us, it’s about what’s best for the city of Belton 20 to 30 years from now.”
One of the larger areas of contention over this process has been the signing of non-annexation development agreements before properties in the study areas were decided on for annexation. Sam Listi, the City Manager, further explained why the non-annexation agreements had to be signed first. “It’s like putting the carriage before the horse, we need to know what areas are even available for annexation, and what we’ll have to work with.”
However not all the city council members support annexation or even accepting the signed development agreements from the study Areas. Council member Paul Sanderford thought that it would be best to wait till after December when Senate Bill 6 goes into effect with council member John Holmes agreeing with him and having an issue with how the non-annexation agreements were handled.
Area 1 which is approximately 10.96 Acres in 5000 block of Toll Bridge Road was accepted as previously marked in the study plan with the whole area to be annexed. This was mostly due to one of the property owners submitting a voluntary annexation petition on the largest property which is 5.312 acres, and the two smaller properties losing their agriculture exemption and violating their previous development agreement when they were split from the larger tract of land.
Area 2 which had a study area of 472.42 acres and is located between IH-35, Rocking M. Lane as of 11/21 had 29 property owners signing non-annexation agreements, 18 owners eligible who didn’t sign, and one decline to sign a non-annexation agreement.
The Council voted 5:2 to accept the signed development agreements, and again 5:2 to shrink the annexation area for the second reading to 284.46 acres or less with a focus on areas to help traffic flow to and from the BISD school to be built directly North of the area, specifically the N/S Shanklin Road and Mesquite Lane. On both votes council members Sanderford and Holms voted against the motions.
Area 3 had 34 properties sign development agreements, and at the time of the reading 10 property owners not sign. Again the Council voted 5:2 to accept the development agreements with Sanderford and Holmes voting against accepting them. The council then decided to also shrink the study area from the initial 160.27 acres that were eligible to only 51.48 which also passed with a vote of 5:2 with both Sanderford and Holmes voting against. The council also expressed that they wanted city staff to prioritize the improvement and maintenance of these newly annexed areas, in response to citizens like Joe Trevino Jr. who said that even though being promised water and sewer improvements when his area was annexed, was still paying for a septic system.
“If we were to annex this area, I would like to see some action taken quite swiftly on fixing the issues brought to our attention in this area,” said Guy O’Banion.
“I think we discussed earlier that I’d like to see in all areas that the city staff come back with improvement plans by the last week of February,” said Craig Pearson.
Area 4 the smallest area only had one development agreement which was approved 5:2. However, unlike the other three areas, the council decided unanimously not to annex any of Area four as per the recommendation of Sam Listi.
The City Council voted unanimously to purchase six vehicles for the Public Works Department under the HGAC coop. Four of these vehicles are to replace early 2000 model pickups with 2018 counterparts which include 2 F-150s, an F-250, and an F-350. The last two vehicles are an F-150 for the new Environmental Specialist, and an F-250 for the Building Maintenance Department’s new Maintenance3 Worker I position. The total cost for these is $174,239.50.
Lastly, the council unanimously voted for new ordinances and amendments to the City’s New Fats, Oils, Grease, and Grit Program, Updating the both the City’s Backflow Prevention and Cross Connection Control Programs, and last new ordinances and amendments concerning installation of small network nodes across the city. These were originally brought to and discussed by the council during the last meeting and were initially approved to be drafted.