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La Vernia City Council works to foster, manage growth
La Vernia city councilmen (from left) Bobby Richter, Eloi Cormier, and John Richter contemplate paperwork June 14 during the regular city council meeting.
Wilson County NewsJune 20, 2012 3,299 views 1 comment
LA VERNIA -- “I do want to say we want to hang the ‘open for business’ sign out in our community,” Councilman D. Bradford Beck told the La Vernia City Council, during one of many discussions during the June 14 regular city council meeting here.
The evening’s agenda included a rezoning request from residential to commercial, signage issues, ordinances regarding game rooms, and an occupancy tax -- all related to the city’s ongoing efforts to attract business, facilitate and manage growth, and keep up with maintenance and obligations.
For the second time, the council considered a request to rezone the property at 130 Bluebonnet (F.M. 775) from R-2 residential to C-1 retail use. Dana and Gene Hyde, La Vernia residents for three years, purchased the property, planning to open a clothing and home boutique. The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission recommended rezoning; however, the council turned it down May 10, after owners of neighboring properties voiced opposition.
“With real estate appraisals, you look at the highest and best use,” Beck said. “The Planning and Zoning has looked at this and said the highest and best use is commercial.”
He encouraged the council to rezone, adding that the Planning and Zoning Commission members had been selected and approved by the council, and the members had done the research and presented a recommendation, which should be trusted by the council to be sound.
Councilmen Beck, Randy Leonard, and Eloi Cormier voted to approve the rezoning June 14, with Bobby Richter and John Richter opposing it. City attorney Charlie Zech advised the matter required a supermajority -- a vote of at least 4 in favor -- for the matter to pass, in light of the opposition to rezoning expressed by the neighboring property owners. The council may revisit the matter at a later date.
Also regarding new businesses, the council approved an amendment to the city ordinance regarding “certain coin operated machines” and new ordinances to regulate “establishments with amusement redemption machines” and
establishing an occupation tax “on coin operated amusement machines.” These items related to the possible introduction of an “adult entertainment place,” said La Vernia police Chief Bruce Ritchey, who said an “eight-liner business” had contacted the city about opening a business.
“We’re not prohibiting [these businesses], just restricting to make a safer community,” said Code Enforcement Officer Janet Thelen.
The new ordinances set guidelines about what constitutes a game room, occupation taxes for such businesses, where they can be established, and other regulatory issues.
Continuing to address new growth and business, the council also approved a “tax on the price of occupancy of any room or space furnished by any hotel” in the city limits or the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. This is often referred to as a “hotel/motel tax.”
“There’s a demand for hotels for graduations, weddings, and other events, and for meeting space for community organizations,” said La Vernia Municipal Development District (MDD) Executive Director Jennifer Kolbe, adding that the city was in confidential negotiations with potential hotel/motel establishments.
Income from this tax could be used to promote the community or to benefit it in a number of ways, Kolbe said.
Other benefits to the community could be realized, after the council approved several items brought before them by Dennis Snow with the Greater La Vernia Parks Foundation. See related article, page 6A.
In other matters, the council:
•Approved Miguel Capre as a new member of the La Vernia MDD.
•Approved the appointment of Diannell Recker to replace Robert Gregory on the Planning and Zoning Commission and Impact Fee Advisory Committee.
•Re-appointed Richard “Dickie” Jackson as the city’s municipal court judge and Jim Burdette as the associate municipal court judge.
•Discussed but took no action on a “380 agreement” with West Texas Gas Co. An executive session was convened to discuss this matter.
•Discussed continuing issues with the municipal well project.
•Approved the purchase of a Chevrolet Tahoe from Koepp Chevrolet to replace a La Vernia Police Department vehicle that was totaled.
•Approved the repair and replacement of street signs in the city, with funds to be found in the current year’s budget from public works and/or other sources.
•Agreed to further discussions in workshops for the municipal well project, subdivision ordinances regarding hydrology studies, and updating the employee personnel policy. One workshop is set for Thursday, June 28, at 6:30 p.m., said City Secretary/Treasurer Angela Cantu after the meeting, adding that budget workshops for the coming fiscal year will start after July 4.
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7th Generation La Vernian
June 22, 2012 9:55am
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