Council OKs committee appointments, will look at updating zoning codes

LeAnda Staebner
Stephenville Empire-Tribune
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The Stephenville City Council met in special session on Tuesday to elect a mayor pro tem and consider committee appointments.

Alan Nix and Brandon Huckabee were both nominated for mayor pro tem with Huckabee garnering five votes to Nix's three.

After electing the mayor pro tem, the regular council meeting adjourned and the group convened for its Council Committees meeting.

Public Works Committee

Committee Chairman Nix said he had been approached by a citizen about the 100 block of Graham Street. The council approved in a March 8 special meeting $300,000 to redo the street in brick like other streets in the historic downtown.

In the interest of saving money, the citizen posed the question of whether the Texas Department of Transportation should go ahead and pave that portion of the street with asphalt rather than having the city incur the expensive of the brick paving. Since it is part of a state highway, the paving and maintenance would then fall under the responsibility  of TxDOT.

Committee member and councilman Gerald Cook noted that the council had already allocated the money for the street to be redone in brick and that brick has a lifespan of 100 years as opposed to asphalt, which may last up to 15 years. He added that if the citizens of Stephenville were to decide someday to upgrade the historic downtown square, they would incur a greater cost by having to tear up the asphalt and then pave the street with brick.

"Since we mentioned the brick streets around the square, I've not heard one thing more positive from the citizens than about making the streets brick again around the square," added Mayor Doug Svien. "It's an incredibly popular thing among the citizens."

"The bond changed, but that's really all that's changed," added newly elected Mayor Pro Tem Huckabee. "I voted for it the first time and that's the way I'll stay."

Finance Committee

Committee Chairman Justin Haschke presented to the council a request from the Erath County Habitat for Humanity to waive a landfill fee related to the clearing of 754 W. Sloan St.

The council had originally approved a waiver of up to $1,500 at its March 2, 2019, meeting. However, the amount of debris cleared from the lot exceeded the $1,500.

The council approved the waiver for an additional $3,003.60.

Stacy Morrison, chair of the Building Committee for the local Habitat chapter, said the lot is completely cleared and the organization has made the decision to build a home office for the local organization on the property. 

Erath County Habitat for Humanity has been building homes in the community since 1997, but does not have designated office space — or a "home" — for itself.

Nominations Committee

Chairman Cook reported there are open positions on the Parks and Rec, Senior Citizens, Planning and Zoning, Board of Adjustment, and MainStreet Advisory Board committees with applicants for each of those groups except the Board of Adjustment.

For the MainStreet Advisory Board, the committee received six applicants for seven positions. The council voted to approve all six applicants. They include: Stephanie Beach, Rita C. Cook, Julie Lowrance, Lisa Pendleton and Tyree J. Slappy.

The council reviewed the applicants for the Parks and Rec board, which had one opening. Kindall Hurley was approved for Place 5 on this committee.

Three individuals applied for the one open position on the Senior Citizen Advisory Board. After review and discussion, the council approved Elizabeth Johnson, who is employed by Meals on Wheels of Erath County.

The city's Planning and Zoning Commission had openings for Place 5 and an alternate and two individuals apply for those positions. The council approved former city councilman and P&Z board member Nick Robinson for the Place 5 position and Mary E. Beach McGuire to the alternate position.

Developmental Services Committee

Committee Chair Huckabee said that due to recent questions raised about the zoning requests of certain businesses, the committee plans to take a look at some of the city's existing regulations and make updated recommendations to the council.

Huckabee said two types of businesses specifically — a tattoo parlor and a semi-permanent make-up business — have caused the group to raise questions about particular zoning ordinances. He added that currently, those businesses fall within the industrial zoning category.

The city currently has around 175 permitted uses in its zoning code, said Steve Killen, Developmental Services director.

"I think there's a lot of room for improvement," he added.

The committee advised the city council that it will review five zoning codes, to start, and progress through the others.