By Devin Corbitt, The Belton Journal
The Belton City Council held a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday.
During the meeting, the council held a public hearing that authorized a zone change allowing Goodyear Tire Shop to begin planning for a shop on the northeast corner of Main Street and Sparta Road, just in front of H-E-B.
The application was originally denied in October 2015 by the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&ZC) so the city and the applicant could address access issues. Because Main Street is such a busy thoroughfare, members of the P&ZC were concerned for drivers’ safety coming in and out of the business. Goodyear attempted to create access from Sparta Road, which is privately owned by H-E-B; however, H-E-B was unwilling to allow a drive to be put in from Sparta Road.
“We realize this is a difficult site with the access,” Dave Fremmer, Vice President of Design & Construction Services with Embree Asset Group, said. “We’ve tried over and over again with H-E-B, but that has not been successful. They’ve turned us down repeatedly on this, so I think it’s pretty much a dead deal that we can’t get that access.”
Instead, the business will have a right turn only both in and out of the parking lot onto Main Street, much like Wal-Mart. Although this still raised concerns with the council, Planning Director Erin Newcomer was confident that city employees had designed an entry/exit way that would adequately allow for safe travel on Main Street.
Along with this, the business will only generate approximately a low amount of traffic, especially when compared to a gas station or restaurant, further accentuating the appropriateness of allowing the business onto this property.
“I think the biggest thing Goodyear brings to the table as a retail establishment is the fact that other users’ (traffic) counts could be up to 500 (vehicles) per day,” Fremmer said. “Goodyear really doesn’t generate that much traffic; it’s about 30 cars a day. In comparison, it’s going to have very minimal impact on traffic around that area.”
The item was approved unanimously with Mayor Marion Grayson abstaining.
The council also heard a set of presentations from Public Works Director Mike Huber on the Water and Wastewater Utility Rate Study conducted by Nelisa Hedding Consulting, LLC.
Water and wastewater rates have remained constant since 2009; however, due to normal wear and tear, many improvements are critical to the welfare of the water and sewer systems within the city, creating a need for increased revenue.
As such, council voted to begin incremental increases in rates over the next five years, beginning this year.
The current rates for water begin with a $14 minimum bill with 2,000 gallons allotted to each meter. After that 2,000 gallons is used, consumers are charged $3.25 per 1,000 gallons (the volumetric rate. Current wastewater rates start at a minimum bill of $11 and a volumetric rate of $3.50.
The adopted rate plan will increase the base rates for both water and wastewater by $1 for 2015, and the $0.50 each subsequent year, capping off at $17 and $14, respectively, in 2019. The volumetric rate for water will jump to $3.49 in 2015 and cap at $3.71 in 2017. The volumetric rate for wastewater will increase by $0.50 for the next two years and cap off at $4.98 in 2017.
William Edlin was sworn in as the Belton Fire Department’s newest employee. The 29-year-old has already accomplished a great deal in his life, including serving six years in the United States Army, where he worked with M1A2 Abrams tanks in Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon completing his term in the Army, Edlin decided to take on a new challenge and become a firefighter. He attended the fire academy at Kilgore College, earning his firefighting and EMT certifications. Belton is his first assignment. “He’s just outstanding,” Belton Fire Chief Francisco Corona said. “He exceeded all our requirements, and I’m happy that he’s here to join us.”
Matt Weatherly, President of Public Sector Personnel Consultants (PSPC), presented the findings of the Compensation and Job Classification Study commissioned by the city last year. The study surveyed city employees concerning their job titles and descriptions, pay and bonus opportunities. “The overall goal was to update the pay scale,” Weatherly said. “We wanted to look at the appropriate placement of all jobs on the pay range in relation to the market.”
The findings recommended slight increases to the pay scales of certain city employees, including police and fire personnel, at an estimated cost of $194,788 per year. They proposed implementing the plan Feb. 7 of this year, resulting in a prorated cost of $125,945 in 2015. Council approved the recommendations.
In the consent agenda, Mayor Marion Grayson reappointed David K. Leigh, Craig Pearson, Blair Williams, Jon Burrows and Richard Cortese for two year terms on the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Board; Charla Peters replaced Robert Jones, who has moved outside of City limits, on Ethics Commission; and the population of Belton was updated to 19,809 as of Jan. 1, 2015.
The council also held a public hearing for a zone change that will allow the Freedom Bible Church, located on the corner of West Avenue D and Jackson Street, to expand the existing church and two smaller buildings owned by the church. The zone change would also allow them to install a small parking lot. The change was approved unanimously.
A public hearing was conducted for a zone change on a portion of a property on the corner of Loop 121 and FM 93 that was previously rezoned to retail in April of last year. The adjacent property, which is owned by the same person, was also rezoned to allow for an apartment complex. However, when the property was surveyed prior to the zone changes, the survey was slightly inaccurate, causing the apartment complex to extend into a floodway. The rezoning change submitted and approved Tuesday will allow the complex to remain the same, just shifted slightly to the north.
The final plat for the Chick Addition, Phase VII, on the corner of West Amity Road and Lark Trail was approved Tuesday. The subdivision features 40 lots and is served by on-site septic systems. It is located in the city’s Extra Territorial Jurisdiction, and will also have to be approved by the Bell County Commissioners Court before construction can begin.
The council conducted the first of two public hearings for the voluntary annexation of two properties west of the city: Chisholm Trail West, a 59.555 acre tract, and Hubbard Branch and BISD, which comprises 149.413 acres. No one spoke for or against the annexations. The second public hearing will be held at the next city council meeting on Jan. 27. The first reading of the ordinance will take place Feb. 17 at a special meeting; the second and final reading will be held Feb. 24.
Council members received an update from Breck Kean with Prestwick Companies on the status of a Tax Credit Project proposal that would provide funding for a 76-unit apartment complex on the corner of Sparta Road and Commerce Street. The project would create safe, comfortable housing for low-income residents in the city. There are currently 14 other applications in the Belton area vying for the grant.
The next meeting of the Belton City Council will be held Jan. 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the Harris Community Center, 401 N. Alexander in Belton.