The Kyle Report

The Kyle Report

Monday, November 30, 2015

The six areas Planning & Zoning want addressed at Thursday's public forum

I would argue if there is only one city meeting that you should attend for the rest of the year, this one is it.

The Planning & Zoning Commission is looking into what sections of the city’s Comprehensive Plan need to be modified and it is conducting a special workshop beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the City Council chambers to solicit the public’s input. Specifically, the commissioners have six areas they want attendees to address. In order to better prepare possible participants for this meeting, here are those areas. You are free to come to the meeting with your responses already written and ready to submit.

1. Future land use addresses the public’s vision to shape and direct the City’s growth. What suggestions or comments can you provide regarding this element of the plan? Please indicate the specific geographic areas of town where you feel this type of growth should take place.

2. Open spaces protect the quality of citizens’ lives by utilizing available space while protecting our environmental heritage. What comments or suggestions can you provide regarding the future of undeveloped or sensitive areas in Kyle?

3. Public facilities include police and fire stations, recreational facilities and public works facilities responsible for city maintenance. Please give us your comments, suggestions and locations for the future of this plan element.

4. Transportation is a key element of the Comprehensive Plan and a transportation analysis for Kyle is currently underway. What additional suggestions or comments can you make regarding this critical plan element?

5. Urban design refers to a visual framework for public and private improvement during growth and promotes connectivity between established regions and new growth areas. What suggestions or comments can you offer about where urban growth should occur and your thoughts about preserving the Kyle area?

6. Revitalization of the downtown region is a challenging but vital part of the Comprehensive Plan. Please share your thoughts and visions for bringing new life to this specific region of our city.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

First impressions redux (the uglies are baaack!!)

Back in April I wrote about how first impressions can shape someone’s entire view of a community and that, because I-35 is the main entrance to and from Kyle, what motorists see along I-35 on their initial drive-through could determine what they thought of the entire city.

I raised this point because there was an item on the City Council agenda back then to rezone a parcel of land along the west side of I-35 between Kohler’s Crossing and Kyle Parkway, a prime piece of real-estate, the perfect spot for a nice hotel or a trendy mix-used development with more independent small business shopping outlets topped by two or more floors of an office building and perhaps even something like an Alamo Drafthouse. Realistically, all that wouldn’t fit in the parcel, but the nice four-to-five story boutique hotel would. The developers of the property don’t intend to put in a mixed-use development, an entertainment area, a handsomely landscaped office building or even a hotel, however. No, they want to use it to locate a self-storage facility.

The item was tabled when it came up in April, but it’s back on Tuesday’s City Council agenda. I hope there is enough leadership on the council — enough council members with vision — to see that this doesn’t happen, that our city is better than this, that it should look better than this, that it should offer first impressions that are, let’s say more impressionable, than self-storage units.

Back then I wrote, "Here’s a recommendation for the city: Form an I-35 Corridor Task Force comprised of business leaders, property owners, and homeowners and give them six months to develop a vision and provide recommendations in order to guide future policy and public investment along the I-35 corridor. The study should examine future possible land development scenarios and their potential impact to the transportation network." I believe such a study was important to our future then and I believe it today, as well.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed the council will do the right thing or perhaps even the application will be withdrawn before it comes up for a vote. Watch this space.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Can you envision a Hilton Hotel in Kyle?

The consultants hired by the City of Kyle to evaluate whether the city could feasibly be the location of a major hotel has said a full-service 150-room hotel with 13,500 square feet of meeting space would be a perfect fit.

"We believe a 150-room Upper Upscale, full-service hotel (Hilton, Marriott, Starwood, Hyatt, or similar variation) would successfully meet the needs within the Kyle market area while conservatively planning for future growth in the city," according to the report prepared by Stone Hospitality & Real Estate. "We have recommended approximately 13,500 square feet of meeting space (roughly 90 square feet per room). This figure stems from comparable properties in similar locations and intelligence collected from experienced industry professionals who recommend 70 to 100 square feet of hotel meeting space for every hotel room."

The report is interesting because it seems to me that it relies more on what’s happening in Austin than the current realities of Kyle. For example, the report says: "While the Greater Austin hotel market has enjoyed one of the greatest booms of new hotel supply in recent history, there continues to be absorption of the new inventory; however, we do not expect this trend to continue much longer. For this and other reasons, we are recommending a full-service hotel with 150-rooms. This is not to say that other types of hotel inventory would not work or will not be developed, but that our ‘best’ choice is as presented here."

That doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement for locating a Hilton-type facility here, but you can decide for yourself by reading the report in its entirely.

The recently announced Comfort Inn, to be constructed behind the Target Store, does not qualify as an "Upper Upscale, full-service hotel," in the Stone analysis. It said the Average Daily Room rate at the hotel it recommends to be located here should be $137.25, based on a 2017 opening. The average ADR at the Comfort Inn ranges from $70 to $95.

Although Stone did not recommend a specific site for the hotel, it was strongly suggested it should be plainly visible from I-35.

"There is a certain degree of intuitive support for a full-service hotel in Kyle," Stone reported. "Occupancies in the competitive market indicate that properties are already highly occupied on Monday through Saturday resulting in the need for additional full-service rooms to accommodate any new business to the area."

Again, you could read the entire report right here.

Importance of newly appointed KPD juvenile officer

The announcement that Kyle Police patrol officer Dago Pates would become the department’s first-ever full-time Juvenile Officer was made a little more than a week ago but I waited to write about it until I could get my hands on figures relating to juvenile crime in the city.

Juvenile Officer Dago Pates
It turns out the number of criminal offenses in which juveniles were suspected increased from 109 in 2013 to 117 last year. It appears that number will go down this year as only 77 such cases have been reported. But here are some interesting numbers from the other side of that coin. Last year 55 juveniles, defined as individuals between the ages of 10 and 17, were victims of criminal activities and that number is 49 so far this year. And since those numbers normally spike during the holiday season, it’s very possible Kyle could easily surpass 2014's figures.

"Our goal will be to provide intervention to juveniles on both lists (perpetrators as well as victims)," Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett wrote to me in an e-mail on this subject. "Intervention and deterrence from behavior and activities that can lead a young person towards a path of adult criminal activity are the focus of the grant. We will coordinate with and utilize all of our wonderful partner organizations in Hays County, as well as our in-house Victims Services Coordinator and Mental Health Officers to provide all of the assistance that we can offer to juveniles that need our help."

The grant Chief Barnett referred to was one the Kyle PD received from the Office of the Governor which is being used to fund the position of Juvenile Officer.

In the official announcement of Pates’s appointment, Barnett said the juvenile officer’s position eventually will have a deterring effect.

"He will work with our local schools and community organizations to identify youth from the Kyle community who need help and guidance to make good choices about their behavior," Barnett was quoted as saying.

Pates has been with the police department since 2009 and has a history of working with at-risk young people, having, for example, spoken to students at the Gary Job Corps Center, where Pates himself graduated from in 2006.

Mitchell Motorsports owner plans City Council run

(Updated at 5:45 p.m. to reflect the response I received from Council member Diane Hervol.)

Travis Mitchell, the owner of Mitchell Motorsports, a self-proclaimed "family-owned and operated trike, motorcycle, atv/utv, auto and outdoor power dealer." announced today he is running for the Kyle City Council in May.

Travis Mitchell
Mitchell faces an uphill battle because he is likely to face an entrenched incumbent regardless of which place he runs for. Mitchell said he has yet to make that decision. But if they decide to run for re-election, and I believe both intend to, Mitchell would have to face either Diane Hervol, who didn’t even have an opponent in her bid for a second term three years ago, or Shane Arabie, who won a convincing runoff victory in 2014 with 73 percent of the vote when he ran in 2014 to fill the unexpired term of Chad Benninghoff. Both Arabie’s and Hervol’s districts are at-large ones. Mitchell lives in District 2 which is represented by Becky Selbera, Her term expires in 2017, but she is the subject of a recall effort.

Neither Arabie nor Hervol have responded to my requests for their reaction to Mitchell’s announcement.

(Update at 5:45 p.m.) Ms Hervol did respond and told me she is "definitely planning to run for re-election in May.  I will make my formal announcement in the future when I feel the time is appropriate.

"I think it is very important to have as many people as possible to become involved in the future of our city," Ms. Hervol added. "I would hope that other citizens will announce their candidacy in the months to come."

I am still awaiting to hear from Arabie. 

(Back to the original post)
"I am running for city council because I believe Kyle’s best days are ahead," Mitchell said in a statement that appeared today on his blog. "I want to help lead our town by working with the mayor, the council, the city staff, our committees, and most importantly our businesses and citizens, to help realize that belief.

"I am also running because I want the opportunity to help influence the culture of this town," he said. "In many ways Kyle is fractured. So many of our citizens are indifferent to politics and isolated from community. They live here but do not call Kyle home. I want to push the needle forward by leading and inspiring the indifferent to become involved."

Mitchell did not go into specifics about how he plans to create more citizen involvement, but promised he would share these strategies in the future.

Mitchell said he has named Brandy Kothmann of Kyle as his campaign treasurer.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Where have all the NIMBYs Gone?

I guess it should come as no shock to me any longer that people in Kyle don’t care about what’s going on in their town, yet I have to admit I was surprised that the NIMBYs (the "Not in My Back Yard" folks, for those who may not be familiar with this acronym) did not show up to last night’s City Council meeting. The subject was low-cost affordable multi-family housing and wherever I have roamed across this great country of ours that subject has drawn the NIMBYs like vultures to a carcass whenever the subject comes up in a public forum. Not that they object to low-cost affordable apartment complexes, they will tell you, but, "look we have our property values to protect." To be honest, I have absolutely no sympathy for these bigots. Never have. Never will. But I know they are out there, especially here in Texas, whose citizens elected. as the last couple of days have proved, a governor who is one of the major bigoted NIMBYs on the planet.

So, last Friday evening, when I spotted an item on last night’s agenda involving plans for such an apartment complex in Plum Creek, I was expecting the NIMBYs out in full force. But they didn’t show. Not a one of them. I’m a big enough cynic (sorry, it’s part of the job description) to believe the absence of the NIMBYs last night was noy a sign of tolerance on the part of Kyle citizens in general and the homeowners on Plum Creek in particular, but of the general malaise on the part of the local populace when it comes to the subject of city government and the actions of city leaders here. After all, in a city where only 4 percent of the registered voters go to all the trouble to vote once a year in a City Council election, should I really expect angry hordes to storm Kyle’s government center over something as trivial as an apartment complex on Kohlers Crossing? Yet, when this subject came up during a conversation with JJ Velasquez, a writer/reporter for Community Impact, he said such an item had citizens foaming at the mouth during at least one Buda City Council meeting.

But last night? Nada. Not a peep. No NIMBYs. Perhaps they were smart enough to realize that last night’s agenda item had nothing whatsoever to do with whether this apartment complex will actually be constructed between the clubhouse for the Plum Creek Golf Course and Kohler’s Crossing and everything to do with the desires of the developers, an outfit called Pedcor out of Carmel, Ind., to secure state tax credits from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. However, Pedcor is not seeking the highly competitive 9 percent housing tax credits, but the non-competitive 4 percent credits, which, according to the TDHCA, is "one of the primary means of directing private capital toward the development and preservation of affordable rental housing for low-income households." This means the odds the apartments will become a reality is about 100 times greater than they would be if Pedcor wanted the 9 percent credits. In fact, Pedcor Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Phillip J. Stoffregen told me last night he witnessed with great interest a presentation during the City Council session in which Wells Fargo contributed $1,000 to the Kyle Police Officers Association and said he planned to meet with officials from that bank as soon as possible to explore their interest in the tax exempt bonds that would fund the construction. Finally, although Pedcor is a relatively new entrant into the low-cost housing market in Texas, they already own and operate this complex in south Austin.

One of the nice things to have in your back pocket when you come to the TDHCA seeking the credits is a note from the town where you plan to build them that they, at the least, don’t object to the plans and, at best, actually endorse them. What Pedcor received last night was the latter, an unanimous vote of confidence and support from the council. Mayor Pro Tem David Wilson even went so far as to thank Pedcor for planning to construct units that, on paper at least, look real pretty.

And, if I read the city’s most current zoning map correctly, the spot where Pedcor plans to build the apartments is already zoned for apartments so it’s doubtful Pedcor will even have to go before the Planning & Zoning Commission until much later in the site process, if it all. Which eliminates another opportunity for the NIMBYs. But, if they are really out there (and I suspect they are, lurking somewhere quietly in the shadows, ready to pounce), they can’t say they didn’t have a chance to make their "me-first-and-only" voices heard.

In other action last night, the City Council:
  • Completely ignored the pleas from Madonna Hays, who lives at the senior apartments on Cromwell Drive, relies on public transportation and claimed she would no longer afford that transportation if Kyle severed its relationship with Cap Metro and, instead, granted a franchise to Buda Taxi, owned by Ivan Castellon, a good buddy of most of those on the council. "Unfortunately, most of the people that use the (Cap Metro) service can not afford Buda Taxi," Hays said. "They charge $10 just to get into the vehicle. I personally can not afford to use the taxi company and I don’t think anyone else would. I’m very, very disappointed that the City of Kyle said there was nothing they could do, that they could not come up with another transportation source for us. The City of Buda can have a senior transportation service three days a week, so I think the City of Kyle should be able to come up with something." Hays said she knew of one woman who depends on the Cap Metro service three times a week for her kidney dialysis "and I don’t know what that woman is going to do. It’s sad that we’re going to be losing a transportation service we’ve had for years. I just want to encourage the council to come up with some kind of transportation service for us. We need it. I, personally, cannot walk to the grocery store. I’m disabled and I’m a senior." Of course, what Hays, I suppose, failed to realize, is that she was pleading to a group of people who do not have to rely on public transportation — probably never have and never will — and have absolutely no empathy for those that do. All they are interested in is rewarding their buddies — not lifting a hand for those in need — which is why the council voted unanimously to award the franchise to their dear friend Castellon.
  • Decided the oral health of Kyle residents was not worth the cost, the hassle and the possible risks that could be involved in correcting the action that the climate-change-denying, tea-partying, right-wingnuts in San Marcos took when they ignored the recommendations of the American Medical Association, the American Dental Association and every other health advocate by voting to discontinue fluoridating the water supply that also serves Kyle. Of course, on the other side of the argument, a lot of dentists will get richer by this act of neglect.
  • Put their stamp of approval of the agreement between the city and the Dahlstrom Family that some involved in the process still have hopes will eventually lead to the annexation of a comparatively upscale planned subdivision northwest of Mountain City.
  • Unanimously approved the manufactured housing and the Goforth Road warehouse zoning requests recommended for approval last week by the Planning & Zoning Commission.
  • Was told the city doesn’t have the proper telephone equipment or the number of personnel needed to institute a system in which water customers could have their water bill due dates spread out. Currently, all water bill payments are due into the city on the same day each month.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A conversation with the city about the house of cards known as the Dahlstrom deal

The Dahlstrom land reflects many aquifer recharge features, including this cave.

Item 33 of tonight’s City Council agenda states: "Consider and possible action in regards to an Agreement between the City of Kyle, Texas and the Dahlstrom Family regarding the Consensual Release of Extraterritorial Jurisdiction from Dripping Springs to the City of Kyle." This aroused my curiosity because I was wondering why the city was so anxious to have in its jurisdiction a huge swath of land that could not be developed because it was under a conservation easement. So I approached Assistant City Manager James Earp, who was gracious enough to take time out of his schedule this morning to talk about the deal and he says it all has to do with "connectivity." There is a subdivision, called Anthem, planned for property in Mountain City’s ETJ. The problem is getting water to the homes planned there. Originally the water was supposed to come from wells drilled by a company called Electro-Purification (EP) out of Houston, but that deal collapsed for reasons too complicated to go into here. Kyle said it would provide the water if Mountain City gave the ETJ to Kyle (this provision is contained in something called an Interlocal Agreement [ILA], which also contains a lot more provisions than merely the land for water swap). I call the Dahlstrom agreement a "house of cards," because everything is precipitated on Kyle absorbing land that is currently in Mountain City’s jurisdiction — land, if I read the tea leaves correctly, Mountain City has no plans on surrendering to Kyle.

Regardless, what follows is the transcript of my conversation with the assistant city manager.

Kyle Report: Why does the city want this property?

Earp: So this is the first step in multiple steps of the strategic process to get to the Anthem property, the Anthem property being Clark Wilson’s project that’s on the northwest side of Mountain City. That was one of the key players that was going to be in the EP water deal. We were approached and asked if we would provide utility services to that project so that they would not have to be a partner in EP. We said we would, but Anthem would have to be in our jurisdiction. So, in order to get to that property, we have to connect to it. Currently, we don’t connect either north or south. Although it looks (on a map of the region) like we connect with the Anthem property on the south, we really don’t because Mountain City needs to keep a strip in order to maintain connectivity (to other parts of its ETJ). So that gives us a barrier on the south that we couldn’t punch through. So the only option then was to come from the north. So we approached the property owners (on Anthem’s northern border), the Dahlstroms, and asked them if they would be willing to give us enough property to connect there and thus bring (Anthem) into our jurisdiction. The Dahlstroms’ property goes all the way north to 967 and essentially their response was they wanted to be a partner in helping EP not be a thing, but they weren’t interested in splitting their property into multiple jurisdictions. So they needed time to consider whether they wanted to release all of their property or not. So this is the first step in that process. The Dahlstroms have to agree to release the properties. In order for them to agree to request the release the properties from Dripping Springs, whose ETJ they are in, they wanted assurances from Kyle, which is what this agreement is. Once we get this agreement in place, then the next step would be to go to Dripping Springs with this agreement and a letter of request from the Dahlstroms to be released. Plus a letter from Kyle saying we’ll accept it. And ask Dripping Springs to release the ETJ. If that occurs, we will take that ETJ area and then we will be contiguous with the Anthem property. Then we move into the Mountain City phase where we do the agreement with Mountain City and Mountain City ultimately releases the Anthem project to us. We accept it and now it’s fully within our jurisdiction. That’s why we want the property.

KR: You’re assuming, however, Mountain City will approve the ILA. My interpretation of the recent Mountain City election results is that Mountain City is firmly against agreeing to the ILA. So isn’t all of this unnecessary?

Earp: No, it’s not, because we can’t get to that to that ILA without all these other steps.

KR: What happens if Mountain City doesn’t agree to the ILA? Where does that leave you?

The scenic Dahlstrom Ranch property
Earp: That doesn’t leave us anywhere. We still have done the process we needed to do. The (Anthem) property is going to develop one way or the other. It’s either going to be a MUD or it’s going to be on city utilities. There are a lot of reasons why it is more beneficial for it to be on city utilities. If that property develops as a MUD, there will be a wastewater treatment plant on that property. The Anthem project will have to have its own wastewater treatment plant. That’s a big thing, having a wastewater treatment plant built there. Right now, Onion Creek, which flows through there, would probably be the area that it drains into and that is not something many people on the Onion Creek want to see.

KR: So the City of Kyle has no plans to build a wastewater treatment plant on the west side of I-35?

Earp: We don’t have plans. I suppose that is something that will happen some time in the future, but for the Blanco basin. We plan to connect Anthem to our current wastewater treatment plant.

KR: Do you plan to run any utilities through the Dahlstrom property?

Earp: No. We can’t annex the (Anthem) property and we can’t serve it in our jurisdiction if we don’t connect to it. So we have to connect our ETJ, but not our utilities. Our utilities are either going to run by the (Hays) high school or down by the (Barton) middle school — these two areas are how we’re going to get back to the property. Or we can come up 150 if we have to.

KR: Do you have any additional plans for the Dahlstrom property?

Earp: Yes. So the Dahlstrom property is under a conservation easement so our intent is to market it and show it off and get the word out. It will be opening up, hopefully with their partnership with Hays County as soon as next year. The family wants to be careful about saying it is opening to the public because it’s controlled about how many people can be on the property at any given point in time. But it will be open as a park with some trails and some facilities.

KR: Are you referring to that 384-acre portion the county has already designated as a park in the northwest corner of the property or the entire ranch?

Earp: No, they are not going to open the entire ranch because the Onion Creek splits it in half. So they’re not going to have a way to get across the Onion Creek. Plus, part of the southern part of the property is under lease to Centex Materials. But to my knowledge — and I don’t want to mislead the public, because I don’t know all the details — I know there’s a plan for the northern part of the ranch off of 967. They already have plans with the county that they are working on. My understanding is they hope to be open by the first of the year or the middle of next year.

KR: Were you aware that even as we speak the Hays County Commissioners Court has on its agenda this morning an item to "execute an agreement with Plateau Land and Wildlife Management in the amount of $8,085 for a wildlife management plan for the Dahlstrom property"?

Earp: No, but that makes sense. The county doesn’t have a whole lot of park type resources as far as personnel and consultants and professionals go, so it makes sense to me that they would be hiring out for someone to do a wildlife plan.

KR: If Kyle assumes the property, will the city be assuming what is now a county park and, with it, O&M responsibility for the park?

Earp: Essentially, that would apply if we annexed the property, which we don’t intend to do, at least immediately. I do foresee there being some sort of a partnership arrangement in the future. We’re willing to partner with the county if that means we staff the visitors center. So it would be in our ETJ, just like any other county facility in our ETJ. The county’s the one responsible for operating it, manning it and running it, but, because I think this is going to be such a neat thing for our area to have — we don’t really have, to my knowledge, a conservation easement property that’s protected that you’re allowed to go into and go see. I think it’s going to be something that’s really going to be unique and neat for our community. I think we’re going to want to be a part of that. I just don’t know how that’s going to look yet. We haven’t had any conversations with the county or with the county and the Dahlstroms about that. But that’s something I see happening over the next year or two as we start to build a relationship with the Dahlstroms, in particular.

KR: Any thought been given to constructing, for lack of a better name or description, a conservation/wildlife educational center on the property?

Earp: The only way I can answer that is through the comments I’ve heard the Dahlstroms make, because I haven’t been a party to what they’ve negotiated with Hays County. But they did mention something to that effect, whether it be something like an information kiosk that would teach about the natural flora and fauna and interesting geological features. To what extend, I do not know, but I do know that’s something they’ve been very conscious of and thinking about. I’ve heard the Dahlstroms and/or their attorneys say they were considering having like cabins on site where people could stay and then have that as part of the experience. But there aren’t any immediate plans for that. The immediate plan is to have the information kiosk for visitors to check in and to open up trails and that’s about the extent of what the immediate plans are that I’m aware of.

KR: Is the city going to take over operations of the quarry?

Earp: No. The city will be responsible for the oversight and any type of licensing issues through the state. We would be responsible for those pieces. Right now, Dripping Springs has been doing that because it’s in Dripping Springs’ ETJ. But we’re not going to operate the quarry by any means.

KR: So right now you are telling me there are absolutely no plans to develop the Dahlstrom property if it becomes part of Kyle’s ETJ?

Earp: You can’t develop the property.

KR: You could if you bought the conservation easement.

Earp: Possibly, but that would cost money.

KR: About $350,000, as I understand it.

Earp: Yeah, today. But that’s not the family’s wishes. It’s definitely not our desire. In fact, our motivation was purely just to connect to the south. But, in meeting with the family, they’re the ones that made it clear that while they wanted to participate they didn’t know if they were comfortable breaking the ranch up into multiple jurisdictions anymore than it already is. They already have one little piece that I believe is in Buda or in Austin, one of the two. So they are the ones that told us that this is a bigger deal than you think it is because we really want to see our entire ranch go one way or the other. And we’ve been having those conversations for months, trying to figure out how that would work and how the family wants to see it. For the longest time the Dahlstroms have had more of a relationship with the Buda community than the Kyle community. So there’s concerns and considerations in that regard as well. I do know the property has in its conservation easement they excluded 20 acres on the vary far north on 967 that they could develop perhaps a visitors center or a conference center to go along with the property. Or they could do retail or something. But it’s my understanding from speaking with their attorney, because the impervious cover limits are so stringent that even though it’s 20 acres the development itself could only be four acres, maybe even three.

KR: Are you aware that the Greater San Marcos Partnership’s web site lists that the land on which the Anthem development is supposed to be built is for sale?

Earp: That was brought up at the Dripping Springs meeting. Clark Wilson owns the property. Where the San Marcos Partnership pulls those listings from is from a third party who then gets it from the original listing information. So what you’re seeing is the original listing from whenever Clark Wilson bought the property. I have e-mails from Clark Wilson where he was trying to track down how that information was still making it out to the web site because he doesn’t have it on the market.

KR: So it’s not really for sale.

Earp: It’s not really for sale.

KR: Aren’t you putting the cart before the horse? Shouldn’t you secure the ILA with Mountain City before pursuing this deal?

Earp: Let me tell you about the chicken and the egg conversation. Mountain City has represented they will not consider or take action until Dripping Springs takes action. Dripping Springs says it will not consider or take action until the Dahlstroms request in writing that they be released. The Dahlstroms said we won’t request in writing to be released until we have an agreement with Kyle. So the agreement with Kyle is on the agenda for tonight. That should lead to the letter which should lead to Dripping Springs releasing it which should lead to Mountain City considering it.

KR: Considering it, but not passing it.

Earp: I can’t guarantee, but they won’t even take it up until Dripping has done their part. Dripping won’t take it up until the Dahlstroms have requested that it be released. The Dahlstroms won’t request it until they have protections from Kyle.

So round and round it goes and where it stops …

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

P&Z OKs Goforth office park that could create 50 jobs

The Planning & Zoning Commission unanimously recommended a zoning change last night that would create a 10-building office/warehouse park on Goforth Road that would include one company its broker said would create 50 jobs.

Although the proposed change directly conflicts with the city’s Comprehensive Plan, the reality is this section of the city parted ways with the Comprehensive Plan a long time ago.

"As you look at this property from the ground this is becoming our defacto industrial park in Kyle," Director of Planning and Community Development Howard J. Koontz told the commissioners in recommending the proposed zoning change on 5.1 acres at 1151 Goforth Road, just east of Dacey. "There’s a race at this point to see if we’re going to have the office that will support the hospital use to the north — is that going to expand out faster than the construction/management/warehouse/assembly use that’s going to start to spread to the north from the south? But along this portion of Goforth Road, this use is wonderfully compatible. They are creating a job center here that will have morning activity, afternoon activity and then be pretty much dormant the rest of the time."

The project is apparently the brainchild of Richard Wood, who not only develops similar properties in Houston, Dallas, Atlanta and East Texas, but also heads up a company called Ameristar Screen and Glass, which will occupy, according to Wood’s real estate broker,15,000 square feet, or about a quarter of the total available space in the proposed development.

The broker, Will Melton of Warehouse Properties in Dallas, told the commissioners last night Wood likes to provide between 1,000 and 3,000 square feet of work space to those business owners who "are overlooked at lot — small commercial contractors, air conditioning repairmen, plumbers, electricians — the kind of people that are right now working in their garage. Most owners have overlooked that type of tenant in the past 10 years. There’s no place for them to go."

Melton said the office spaces lease for between $1,000 and $2,000 a month "They are very nice buildings," he said. "They fit the need for what these people have been looking for for a really long time."

Melton said the current plans are to place 10 buildings totaling 60,000 square feet on the property providing space for between 30 to 40 different companies.

Melton said Ameristar provides replacement glass products, such as windows and doors, for apartment complexes. Melton said Wood plans to "employ over 50 people, starting out," at the Goforth facility. "The crew in Dallas is over 75 employees. He has over 350 employees in the company. Pretty much what he does is he brings in the glass and then he will put it into the aluminum frames and then send it back out again. He produces no glass at all on the property. It’s simply assembling and putting it back out again."

Melton said all orders for Ameristar products are placed on line so no customers will be driving to the Goforth Road location. ""He has crews that go out every morning and come back every evening.’"

The broker said Wood stresses landscaping and safety in all his developments. "The buildings that he builds and redoes he outfits with motion sensors, floodlights over and above what anyone else would do. These buildings are so well lit at night I could send my wife out there and have no qualms about it all. The benefit of these projects that we’ve seen in Dallas and East Texas is that it provides lots of taxes for the cities that we move into."

In other action last night, the Commission unanimously:
  • Approved a conditional use permit for the proposed three story, 71-room Comfort Suites, to be located behind the Target store, after being told the exterior of the building will be constructed of stone and brick. The developers told me after the meeting they expect the hotel to open by the end of 2016.
  • Recommended the City Council rezone an acre of land at 1489 East RR 150 that would permit a woman who currently lives in a manufactured home in San Marcos to move that home to the re-zoned property.
  • Changed its schedule to eliminate its fourth Tuesday meeting this month because the date is two days before Thanksgiving, and move it to Thursday, Dec. 3; and scheduled two special meetings, one on Wednesday, Dec. 9 to meet with a Comprehensive Plan consultant, and a public meeting Tuesday, Dec. 8, specifically designed to receive public input on the Comprehensive Plan.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

P&Z to disregard Comprehensive Plan again, consider a Comfort Suites behind Target

One of these is proposed behind the Target store

A company called Ameristar is seeking to build a facility on Goforth Road just east of Dacy and Comfort Suites would like to locate a three-story, 71-room hotel directly behind Target. Both will be seeking approval from the Kyle’s Planning & Zoning Commission during its meeting scheduled to begin 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in City Council chambers.

Ameristar is seeking to have a 5.1-acre plot of land at 1151 Goforth rezoned from Agriculture to Warehouse "to develop a office/warehouse district for … Ameristar Screen and Glass and similar companies," according to a document filed by Ameristar President Richard Wood. Ameristar bills itself as the "No. 1 supplier of glass, mirrors and screens in Texas." It appears most of its customers are apartment complexes and/or those developing multi-family units. I have reached out to Ameristar officials in its corporate offices in Carrollton, Texas, to learn exactly what kind of facility it wants in Kyle — whether it will be a manufacturing location, for example — however that reaching out took place outside of the company’s normal business hours so, if I do hear back, it will probably be some time Monday at the earliest.

Wood’s letter did say, however, the property "is planned to attract small to medium commercial companies," in addition to his own. "The complex will have approximately 50,000 square feet of leasable space" and "will contain insulated warehouse space with small office spaces." That would indicate to me that Ameristar will more likely use its space for distribution rather than manufacturing, but, hopefully, I will learn more Monday.

City staff is recommending P&Z approve the zoning change even though the city’s Comprehensive Plan, which is an absolutely useless document since it is ignored on a regular basis, says the site is located in an area designated by the Plan as New Town and warehouse zoning is not recommended to be approved in a New Town character area. But since we all know that whatever a developer wants in Kyle, a developer gets in Kyle, regardless of what that Comprehensive Plan says. So there’s that.

Does this ....
The Comfort Suites application may be little dicier, however, because, according to the City, the drawings submitted with the application "do not indicate what materials will be used in what fashion on the building exterior." The proposed hotel is located in the Kyle Marketplace and the published "General Design Standards" for all buildings located in the Marketplace require "the buildings and the improvements constructed for the project
...remind you of this?
shall be consistent with the design concepts used in
the construction of the Kyle City Hall." I’m not sure exactly what that means but I drive by that Target almost daily and have shopped in it a dozen times or more and not once when I looked it did I think to myself "Man, that store reminds me of City Hall."

But that’s me.

Storm water management: It’s about quality as well as quantity

Earlier this week I wrote about how the Halloween Floods of 2015 reinforces the need for the City of Kyle to place more emphasis on storm water management. In that essay I failed to emphasize this additional oversight is not only because we need proper drainage during times of heavy rains; we also need to carefully examine precisely what is flowing through those drains and is eventually being dumped into Plum Creek and other waterways.

I have a Golden Retriever and she and I take at least four walks a day. And one of the things I have noticed is that it appears to me a significant number of pet owners refuse to pick up after their animals. Walking off the paved walking areas in my neighborhood is like negotiating a minefield of dog poop. That’s why, when we walk after dark, I never get off a sidewalk.

There’s an outside stormwater drain that flows alongside where I live and I really noticed when that drain was like a raging river last weekend and again during today’s rains that the water in that drain is the color of milk chocolate. That’s not a good sign.

I mentioned in that last story that the need for increased attention being paid to storm water is going to grow more important as our city continues to grow. That’s because more areas are going to be paved over and that means more cars are going to be depositing more oil and grease on these paved surfaces. And when it rains, all that chemical crap is washed into our storm water drains and then into our creeks and rivers that we, I hope, want to keep clean and habitable for the fish and other wildlife that depend on the cleanliness and the purity of that water.

Have you ever wondered why communities on northern sides of cities (i.e, Round Rock, Georgetown) seem to flourish faster and are economically stronger and more diverse than those on the southern side (Buda, Kyle)? It’s simply because water naturally flows south and those waters are going to be cleaner on the northern side of large cities than they are on the south side. That’s why the EPA has stepped up its enforcement of clean water standards on city’s storm water facilities.

Last week’s floods were referred to as "a 100-year event," so the question of whether we need to go to a great expense to protect us against something that may only happen every 100 years is a valid one. But the dog poop, automobile oil and other junk on our city streets, grass clippings and so many other pollutants are being swept into our storm drains every single day. Think about that the next time you go fishing or swimming in one of the waterways downstream from us.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Floods prove more attention must be paid to storm water management

I have not written that much of what will go down in history as the Great Halloween Floods of 2015 because others with far more resources could handle the reporting on this subject far better than I. I will say, however, that these floods proved to me something I’ve suspected ever since I relocated here more than a year ago, and that is city government must devote much more attention to storm water management. I was chagrined when I read the city’s Comprehensive Plan and there were separate sections on "Water" and "Wastewater," but not on "Stormwater." At last night’s City Council meeting, a number of residents complained flooding was exacerbated by clogged drains, directly attributable to the neglect in storm water management. During this year’s budget negotiations, I advocated for instituting storm water fees so the necessary fixes to the city’s infrastructure could be paid for without additional increases in homeowners’ property taxes. Storm water fees are calculated by the amount of impervious surface on any given property so, for example, the owners of the shopping centers with the large parking lots will bear a lot more of the cost than an individual homeowner — an example of one of the few taxes in Kyle that would fall more heavily on businesses than on homeowners. I will again be advocating for instituting storm water fees during the next budget go-round. The city has recently hired a company to perform what amounts to a streets inventory to determine what roadways in Kyle are in most need of repair. These most recent floods make the case that the city should do something similar in regards to storm water -— contract with a company known for storm water management to conduct a complete assessment of Kyle’s storm water utilities and report to council what the needed fixes are and how much they will cost. The cost of those fixes then should be paid for by the storm water fees. This city is growing. Everybody knows this. And as more city land gets paved over, the threats of additional flooding are going to increase unless the issue of storm water management is addressed. And if the city fails to do this on its own, I guarantee you the EPA will step in and order the city to take certain actions. I don’t think very many people want to see that happen.

Also during last night’s City Council meeting, City Manager Scott Sellers and Mayor Todd Webster went to great lengths to praise all the individuals who responded to the devastations caused by last week’s flooding.

"This was really a remarkable recovery," Sellers said. "That’s in large part due to the response from city staff. I started to list all the individual departments and Hays County but I just stopped because there was such an overwhelming response from everybody. Everyone did an incredible job from dispatch, public works, parks, admin. There were folks here at this building doing great, great job. But we could not have responded in the way that we did without the county’s assistance — from the county commissioners on down — everyone did an incredible job."

Sellers also thanked TxDOT for its response to flooded vehicles along the I-35 frontage road as well as at Kohlers Crossing and 2770.

"As we went around assisting and cleaning up property, I would say 90 percent plus (of Kyle residents) were extremely appreciative of the response that the city had offered," Sellers said. "That’s a community that comes together. A disaster will either bring people together or drive them apart. In the heat of things it either brings out the best or the worst in people. We’ve seen it in disasters past and we saw it very, very well with this event. So to everybody who assisted in this last event, I want to say ‘Thank you’."

Mayor Webster thanked the city staff, saying he witnessed first-hand the reactions of citizens relieved of many burdens, especially the clearing of debris, due to the rapid response from the city’s employees. He also singled out the city’s contracted trash haulers, TDS, for its response.

"This was a pretty extraordinary thing that happened," Webster said. "What I saw was that through the work of the staff it drew people together. I saw the community responding. Every house I was with you could see neighbors and friends and families working together. True, some people were upset, but the majority of people came together and it was very good to see."

Of course, some of that good feeling may dissipate as affected homeowners begin dealing with their insurance claims, but that’s another issue.

Webster wisely advocates moving elections to November, or: Recommendations on fixing Kyle’s abysmal voting rate

During last night’s discussion on proposed changes to Kyle’s charter, Mayor Todd Webster brought up the subject of moving municipal elections from May to November. If the goal is to increase voter turnout — and that is a reasonable goal — the evidence proves holding municipal elections in November will accomplish that.

The principle argument against holding elections in November is the desire not to have the city’s elections buried beneath those of the President, senators, house members, legislators, etc., especially since those are partisan elections and Kyle’s are non-partisan. One of the arguments is that voters who vote straight ticket will simply do that and not even bother to cast ballots for locally elected officials. But there is a simple way to prevent this from happening, which I will get to shortly, when I suggest my remedies for fixing Kyle’s City Council election process.

I was amused when I read in today’s Austin American-Statesman that election officials in the capitol city were lamenting that only 11.4 percent of the registered voters turned out Tuesday to vote on whether to issue bonds for a new court house. In Tuesday’s elections, 11.2 percent of the registered voters cast ballots in San Marcos, 10.8 percent turned out in Buda and 30.61 percent voted in Mountain City. Neither San Marcos nor Buda should brag about voter turnout but those numbers are more than twice the number of voters in Kyle’s last general election when 4.91 percent turned out in May.

I will predict that moving Kyle’s municipal elections from May to November, as the mayor so adroitly recommended, will at least double the percentage of voters that now come to the polls here.

Now, back to how to avoid being buried beneath those partisan ballot choices. That’s simple. Those elections take place in Texas in even numbered years. Simply hold the Kyle municipal elections in odd numbered years and that partisan subject is no longer an issue.

But other changes need to be made to allow this to happen and these changes also will increase voter turnout.

Currently, Kyle holds a City Council election every single year. That’s way too many. That results in election fatigue for Kyle voters. Cut that number in half, thus allowing a council election in odd-numbered years only. To accomplish this, the terms of the council members must be changed. I recommend two-year terms with a limit of four terms for each office holder. That way, in November of every odd numbered years, voters will be voting on all six council members, plus the mayor. That also will increase interest in the election and thus increase the number of voters going to the polls.

It also solves another problem, one raised by council member Damon Fogley during last night’s discussion. State law requires that officials elected to positions that have terms of longer than two years must be elected by a majority of the voters. Fogley lamented that in the general election he received 49.7 percent of the vote and, thus was subjected to a runoff. By limiting the council member’s terms to two years, you could have the elections decided by a plurality vote (i.e., the person with the most votes wins, regardless of the percentage) and avoid the need of and the costs for a runoff election. This also would increase voter turnout.

But, one may ask, if you stage elections this way, how do you avoid having a turnover of all seven council members every eight years? Well, there’s no way you can eliminate that possibility 100 percent, but you can reduce the chances of it happening almost to zero. On the first election after the charter change required to make all of the above a reality, voters cast ballots for all seven council members — the mayor and the six other council members. Out of those six, the two candidates receiving the most votes fall under the four-term limitation rule. The two winning candidates receiving the third and fourth most votes are limited to three terms and the final two are limited to two terms. After that, the four-term limit applies to all persons newly elected to the council.

Finally, I’m going to address the argument of single member versus at-large districts. Currently Kyle elects three council members from individual districts and three at-large. The argument for increasing the number of single member districts is that, at present, it is easily feasible the council could be composed of five individuals who all live in the same subdivision. The argument I’ve heard most against single member districts is that constituents desire to have more than one council member to listen to their concerns.

Here’s a solution to both problems, and one that I expressed during the citizen comments section of last night’s charter discussion. Have all six council members and the mayor elected by all Kyle voters (another step that will increase voter participation) but require that any candidate running for Places 1 and 4 on the council must reside in District 1, candidates seeking Places 2 and 5 must live in District 2 and those going for Places 3 and 6 have to reside in District 3. That provides the even geographical distribution but makes all council members directly accountable to all the citizens of Kyle.

And isn’t that what we really want?

Mariachi festival moving indoors

The Mariachi festival scheduled for Saturday at the Kyle City Square is being moved inside to the cafeteria at Lehman High School out of concern for possible adverse weekend weather conditions. The Dia de los Muertos Mariachi Extravaganza, featuring performances from at least five separate mariachi groups, will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Lehman cafeteria.

Random thoughts involving the appeal hearing of Jesse Espinoza

Back before he became the high-sheriff of our fair city, Jeff Barnett was the police chief in Princeton, a town of 7,700 folks about eight or so miles east of McKinney, Texas, in Collin County, which is on the northern border of Dallas County. It’s main claim to fame is its relatively low tax rate, the result of it being a General Law city, not a home Rule one. While serving as police chief there, Barnett had a sexual affair with Suzanne Hurlston, who was then the wife of local anesthesiologist Glen Hurlston. On March 15, 2011, Suzanne gave birth to a boy fathered by Barnett but assumed at the time by Dr. Hurlston to be his child. In fact, they named the child Gerard Jeffrey Blake Hurlston. Dr. Hurlston said during testimony Monday at the appeal hearing of Kyle Police Sgt. Jesse Espinoza that he had absolutely no clue the child wasn’t his until he was tipped off 10 months later by Suzanne’s former fiancee, who has also fathered two children with Suzanne, that Barnett was showing up at Dr. Hurlston’s house when the doctor wasn’t there.

Needless to say, Dr. Hurlston was none too happy about any of this.

All of the above is indisputable. Chief Barnett has acknowledged paternity of the child and the infant’s name has since been changed to Jeffrey Blake Barnett. A lot of what follows has been disputed. What’s not in dispute is that on New Year’s Day 2012 Hurlston was arrested on a charge of felony domestic abuse after Suzanne claimed he attempted to strangle her. That charge was reduced to a Class A misdemeanor and Hurlston pled no contest. Subsequently Hurlston claimed his wife contacted Barnett in Kyle, telling him about the incident, and Barnett subsequently called in some favors from his former associates on the Princeton police force and that’s what led to Hurlston’s arrest. Hurlston testified Monday he wanted to know more about this Barnett person and learned he was being considered, along with Kyle resident and Austin Police Department supervisor Joseph Muñoz, for Kyle’s chief of police. At the time Espinoza was head of the Kyle police association and was actively promoting Muñoz over Barnett. Hurlston decided Espinoza might be someone who could provide him with information concerning Barnett. Eventually, in December 2013, Hurlston filed a lawsuit against a number of parties including Barnett and the City of Kyle. The city seems to believe Espinoza illegally supplied Hurlston with information that provided grist for the lawsuit. As a result Barnett in February placed Espinoza on administrative leave pending an internal investigation into Espinoza’s activities that related to Hurlston.

There were a number of problems with this action, however. First, Barnett’s actions could be viewed as nothing more than retaliation against an officer who did not support his quest for chief and who had aligned himself with someone who was not only pursuing legal actions against the chief, but had a personal grudge against him. To counter that perception, the city placed Barnett on administrative leave and brought in a former police chief from Waxahachie, Charles Edge, to conduct the investigation the city hoped would provide the necessary evidence to kick Espinoza off the force.

But there was a second, bigger, problem. According to the Civil Service regulations the City has agreed to in regards to its police department, the department can only discipline officers for actions committed within 180 days of when charges are brought against that officer. If Espinoza did anything the city believes he did in regards to Hurlston — and whether he did or not is still open to question — they were all done outside this 180-day "statute of limitations."

So the City concocted a new plan. They submitted Espinoza to (as close as I can tell) about seven intensive question-and-answer sessions, including one seven-hour session that apparently was videotaped, and at least one session with Edge. The man from Waxahachie testified Monday the answers Espinoza provided during these sessions were "non-responsive," and that non-responsiveness amounted to insubordination and that insubordination was the reason Edge suspended Espinoza from the force indefinitely.

The hearings I attended Monday and Tuesday were the last in a series of hearings Espinoza sought to have that suspension overturned. I obviously missed at least four previous days of testimony which were the real juicy, salacious parts of the hearing during which, from I have been told by a number of sources, testimony was presented on, among other things, the drinking and sleeping habits as well as the "illicit" sex lives of some of this city’s elected officials. I am not going to get into any of this because, for the life of me, who, other than the parties I have already named, was having sex and/or drinking with whom does not seem to have any relevance whatsoever to the issue to be decided, which is whether Espinoza’s suspension should be reversed.

What I do believe was relevant, however, was the testimony I heard myself, especially that from Edge who was the first person to testify Monday and the last of the witnesses called by the city’s hired gun attorney, Bettye Lynn, a labor law specialist. Edge cited the following exchange he had with Espinoza concerning a trip Hurlston was making to Kyle to attend a City Council meeting:

Edge: Did you call Dr. Hurlston?
Espinoza: I probably did.
Edge: Why?
Espinoza: I wanted to see if he made it.

Edge said that exchange constituted insubordination on Espinoza’s part because his second answer proves his first response was "non-responsive." Edge argued that since Espinoza talked to Hurlston to determine "if he made it," the answer to his first question should have simply been "yes."


Hey, I am not a police officer and I have never been involved in the interrogation of a subject in a criminal investigation. But I’m betting most police officers who have will support me on this. If they are interrogating a potential suspect and they ask the subject "Did you commit this crime?" and the subject responds "I probably did," that suspect is going to be handcuffed, read his rights (if Miranda hasn’t already been applied) and dispatched to the lockup. If I asked anyone a question on any subject and that someone answers "I probably did," I’m going to interpret that to mean "yes," and I’m going to go way out on a limb here and argue that 99.9 percent of the English speaking world would interpret it exactly the same way.

Second: I will argue Edge proved to be one of those persons who would interpret it exactly the same way. If he had interpreted it any other way in his examination of Espinoza, then why did he ask the followup question?

Here is another problem I have with this. The first witness called for the defense on Monday was Dr. Hurlston and at one point he was asked when he met Espinoza. He replied: "Probably in 2013 or 2014." And you know what? Not a single person in that hearing room jumped up and claimed that answer was non-responsive.

Like I said earlier, I only saw the final two days of this hearing, but if the city is relying on Espinoza saying "I probably did" as the reason for suspending him, I am convinced Espinoza is being railroaded here.

What happens now is that each side, Lynn and defense attorney Grant Goodwin, will make their final arguments in the form of written statements that will be sent to hearing examiner Michael B. McReynolds, presumably at his home office in Fort Worth. Those statements are due around the end of the year and McReynolds said he would make his final determination, or "award," within 30 days of acknowledging receipt of the statements. So it’s probably going to be late January or early February before we know the outcome. How he’s going to rule is anyone’s guess, but I do know the only times he seemed to lose his temper during the two days of testimony I witnessed was when he told Hurlston "I am having real problems with some of your answers and some of your reactions" and when he put Espinoza down by telling him sternly "You don’t make the rules in this hearing."

So there’s that.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The likely demise of the Mountain City ILA

Last night’s elections for the Mountain City City Council may have secured the final nail in the coffin of a proposed agreement between Mountain City and Kyle involving, to put it simply, selling water for land.

I’m going to try make this explanation as bare bones as possible and, in doing so, I will, admittedly, being omitting a lot of details, but the situation is basically this. A developer proposed the construction of a trendy residential district it called Anthem on property located in Mountain City’s Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ). In order to provide water for the subdivision, the developer reached an agreement with an outfit known as Electro Purification which proposed to drill wells near Wimberly in an area that was not regulated by any water district. Residents around the proposed drilling feared those wells would drain water from their water supplies and they took their complaints to county and state government officials. The result was legislation enacted that placed the disputed area under supervision, having the effect of limiting the amount of water Electro Purification could extract from their wells. As a result, Anthem still had no water source.

So the City of Kyle decided to saddle its white horse and ride to the rescue. It told Mountain City it would provide the water needed for Anthem if Mountain City would cede jurisdiction of the Anthem property to Kyle which, probably sooner than later, would annex the territory into its city limits. There was more to the agreement than that and, originally Hays County was part of the deal, throwing in some free road reconstruction for Mountain City, but recently I have heard that the county is out of the deal and the city of Dripping Springs has become the third party.

The populace of Mountain City was sharply divided over the proposal. (The populace of Kyle, as usual, didn’t seem to care one way or another.) I don’t want to say the Mountain City population was "split," because that would infer there were as many Mountain City residents for the ILA as there were against it. My feeling, from attending a couple of town hall meetings and one city council meeting, was that there were far more people against the deal than there were those for it. I didn’t realize just how overwhelming those numbers were until I saw the results of last night’s elections, which basically was a referendum on the ILA. Those that are against the ILA are divided into two camps. The first, under no conditions whatsoever, wants to cede any land to Kyle — they insist a "buffer" must be maintained to protect them from Kyle. The other camp just thinks Mountain City is not getting enough in return for ceding the property. (Back when Kyle Mayor Todd Webster was not afraid to talk with me, he said right after the ILA was proposed that, had he been in Mountain City’s shoes, he would oppose it.)

Last night’s Mountain City City Council election featured five candidates all running for three positions on the council — the top three vote getters would win. Three of the candidates — incumbent Lee Taylor, Suzanne Halam and Ralph McClendon Jr. — had either expressed dissatisfaction with the ILA or said they hadn’t reached a final position on it. The other two — Eva Brown and Thomas W. Brown Jr. (wife and husband) — were solidly in favor of it. The Browns, together, tallied only 8.8 percent of the votes cast. That’s not 8.8 percent each, but 8.8 total: 5 percent for Thomas Brown and 3.8 percent for Eva Brown. That’s astonishing. From where I sit, the folks in Mountain City spoke loudly, clearly and resoundingly about how they feel about the ILA and they don’t want it. And since any proposed agreement would have to be approved by the Mountain City City Council, I can’t see how this deal has any future.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Downtown resource center created to help flood, storm survivors

Kyle residents and other persons affected by last week’s storms and floods will be able to get some of their questions about recovery answered at what is being called the Survivor Resource Center at Old Kyle City Hall, located in the Center Street Square across from the Texas Pie Company, tomorrow through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Government agencies and nonprofit groups will meet with any resident of Hays County, inside or outside of any city limits, who suffered damage from the storms to discuss assistance that might be available to them, including housing issues, physical and mental healthcare, help with insurance questions and driver license replacement.

This will be a temporary information center only, not a place to pick up or donate food or material goods.

Kyle Chief of Staff Jerry Hendrix said today damage assessment teams will be in Kyle this afternoon "going door to door in the affected areas." These teams will also have information about these meetings as well as other information about how to proceed with the recovery."