The Kyle Report

The Kyle Report

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

P&Z completes part of its land use assignment

Back on Jan. 24, the City Council met in a joint workshop session with the Planning & Zoning Commission to complete what is nominally being called the mid-term update of the city’s Comprehensive Plan, but probably should more accurately be dubbed the "three-quarters-term update." The workshop adjourned with some work still to be done by the commission as well as the City Planning Department, but with explicit instructions from council members on what was expected of them. Specifically, the Planning Department was charged with drafting proposed ordinances that would create mixed-use and office zoning designations. The Planning and Zoning Commission was assigned the task of coming up with new designations for the two landuse districts which are both currently called "New Settlement Community" and to make all zoning within those districts conditional. It will also told to eliminate the so-called Employment District which is currently located in the far northeast section of Kyle where absolutely no one in their right mind would locate a place of employment.

Last night, the Planning & Zoning Commission conducted a workshop attended by only three of its members (since this meeting was only a "workshop," a quorum was not required) — Chairman Dex Ellison, along with Timothy Kay and Rick Koch — and kinda, sorta, but not really followed the instructions they received at the January joint workshop.

As far as the new zoning ordinances are concerned, Planning Commissioner Howard J. Koontz told the three commissioners they will be forthcoming upon council’s approval of the update.

"Two new zoning categories were effectively enabled through the discussions on the 24th," Koontz said. "One would be for office-institutional. The reason for that is to create an employment category that doesn’t necessarily bring along with it the undesirable ideas of everything else that goes on in warehouse."

He said this new designation would be referred to as O&I, "a category that bridged the more commercial-industrial uses and retail services which really doesn’t encompass commerce that’s not point-of-sale."

"But that will not come until after the Comp Plan is done," he continued. "We don’t make new zoning districts as a function of the Comprehensive Plan. We don’t really enable any zoning through the Comprehensive Plan."

This new zoning designation also has the effect of eliminating the so-called "employment district" by reducing a district into a zoning category that could be assigned to various landuse districts throughout the city.

Koontz said he has "some ideas, but nothing in the can," concerning the proposed mixed-used designation which he said will be dubbed MXD.

Now as far was what happened with the two new Settlement areas … well, after I got home and referred to my copies of the current Landuse Districts map, I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I think the net effect is the New Settlement Community District located entirely on the east side of I-35, between the Plum Creek greenbelt and Beebee/High Road will, if the City Council approves P&Z’s recommendation, be referred to as the East New Settlement Community. The one that straddles both sides of I-35 on the southern edge of town will still have the same New Settlement Community designation.

And instead of making all zoning uses conditional, as instructed, the three commissioners decided to suggest for the East New Settlement Community that zoning uses Single Family Residential, Duplexes and Urban Estate be listed as recommended zoning uses; Manufacture Home, Manufactured Home Subdivision, Manufactured Home Park, Condominium, the recently created single family residential R-1-A category, Transportation Utility, Neighborhood Commercial and Community Commercial be designated conditional uses; and everything else be thrown into the not-recommended wastebasket.

For the landuse district that will still be called New Settlement Community at the city’s southern tip, the commissioners recommended all residential zoning from R-1-1 through R-2, along with Entertainment, Transportation Utility. Urban Estate, Neighborhood Commercial and Community Commercial be conditional and everything else not be recommended.

There was one other caveat to all of this. The commissioners also recommended the expansion of the regional nodes at the southern and northern tips of I-35. In these regional nodes, zoning uses condos, apartments and other multi-family projects, all commercial including retail services, mixed use developments and, presumably, office/industrial uses would be recommended under the updated plan’s provisions and Central Business District, entertainment and hospital services would be conditional. The commissioners proposed extending the southern most regional node a third of a mile on either side of I-35 from its current location until it joins another regional node just south of Center Street. The one at the northern edge of I-35 would similarly be extended along a path a third of a mile on either side of I-35 to the area that is now designated a Super Regional Node.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A story about a special young woman named Madalyn

Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman could put me through an emotional ringer like no one else I have ever known. During the regular Friday night services at Temple Emanu-El, I knew I could count on Rabbi Zimmerman to insert my feelings into his personal emotional grinder and they would come out psychic sausage. During the typical 15 to 20 minute Rabbi Zimmerman sermon, he would compel me to travel from complacency, to anger, to fear, to joy, to euphoria and finally to hope. It was a willing passenger on an exhilarating ride and the driver was unquestionably the best teacher I ever had and a major influence on my life.

I have experienced that same emotional roller coaster ride a few times since Rabbi Zimmerman left Temple Emanu-El a quarter of a century ago, most memorably when former President Barack Obama delivered the eulogy at the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the victims of the June 17, 2015 mass shooting and hate crime at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, S.C.

I was reminded of Rabbi Zimmerman and his transformative sermons last week when Hays High School student Madalyn Raymond addressed, first the Hays CISD school board and, the following evening, the Kyle City Council. Ms. Raymond took me on another enlightening journey of emotional ups and downs, a journey that was important for me to take because it not only forced me to look at afflictions that are unjustly ignored, but even more important — at least to me — forced me to re-examine my own failings as a human being. And what was so special about her presentation was that she didn’t blame me or society as a whole for these failings. Just the opposite in fact — she basically apologized for causing us to react the way it’s in our DNA to react. And that’s what lifted her presentation to a stratospheric level.

When she spoke about how bad it made her feel to be forced to stand or sit a little differently than everybody else, she forced me to face the realization that, yes, we, as a society tend to isolate — not deliberately, not maliciously, not even consciously — those who, through no fault of their own, are "a little different." And she forced me to empathize with those we isolate, to look into the face of the unjust way we might treat our fellow human beings in the normal path of human behavior.

But Ms. Raymond wasn’t there to seek pity or try to alter natural human behavior. No, it turns out Ms. Raymond is a model of courage. Instead of wallowing in an infirmity, she is using it as a tool to help others in need.

What follows is the complete text of Ms. Raymond’s address. I implore you to take this journey with her. Take the trip through her record of scouting accomplishments, through the story of her afflictions and finally to her destination of hope and redemption. It doesn’t take long and I think it’s more than worth your while


My name is Madalyn Raymond and I’m a Junior at Hays. I am the Editor-in-Chief of the news magazine, The Nation, and actively participate in UIL Journalism. I am a member of National Honors Society, Spanish Honors Society, and Quill and Scroll.

In addition, I have been in Girl Scouts for 11 years and have earned my Bronze and Silver awards, the third and second highest awards a Girl Scout can receive. Now, as a Girl Scout Ambassador, I am earning my Gold Award, the most prestigious achievement you can earn in Girl Scouting.

I emailed each of you earlier this week, but in case you haven't had a chance to read it due to Spring Break plans, my project addresses the issue of scoliosis. Scoliosis is a genetic spinal disorder that curves the spine in an unnatural "C" or "S" shape. About 3 percent of the population has been diagnosed with it, and it is most common in females.

My project, entitled "Get Ahead of the Curve," aims to raise awareness and community involvement in scoliosis. It is my main goal to change the current screening ages in our district, 6th and 9th grades, to 5th and 8th, as these ages better correlate with adolescent spinal development and allow more treatment options for those diagnosed with scoliosis. Although, due to restrictive legislation, we are currently unable to lawfully change the screening ages. I have contacted our local legislators and senators, but ask that if you have any connections with Jason Isaac, Lloyd Doggett, Ken Mercer, etc., you utilize that relationship to bring up this issue.

I am also starting a support group for students with scoliosis to give them an understanding environment that will allow them to share their experiences with scoliosis to others that can empathize. It is imperative that they feel they are not alone, as this disorder can feel very isolating — like the first time you walk down the middle school hallways with a baggy t-shirt trying to cover your brace as others stare; like the time you have to answer "What are those scars on your back? Why are you standing like that?"; or like when you have to sit in chairs with the parents and teachers at assemblies rather than on the floor with your friends because the concrete bothers you too much.

For me, scoliosis is personal. In third grade, I was diagnosed while at a physical for Girl Scout camp and two years later, was the first person in Central Texas to receive a Vertebral Body Stapling surgery that placed 11 staples in my spine to inhibit my curves from worsening. I wore three braces — pink, zebra print, and cheetah print ones — at night that I took to sleep overs, camp outs, and retreats and wore from my diagnosis to my freshman year.

I would like to ask four things of each of you: to reach out to your contacts and inform them of this project, send letters to our local legislators, and think of anyone you know with scoliosis that could benefit from the support group. I have a Facebook group called "Get Ahead of the Curve — Hays CISD" that is open for anyone, including you all and *turn around* everyone here tonight, to join that will keep members updated about meetings and my project as a whole. I printed out a small Slideshow for each of you and attached my business card to the front if you’d like to contact me. And finally, thank you for your invaluable contributions to our community as leaders. While your work goes unnoticed by some, it positively affects all and makes Kyle a better place. Thank you

As a postscript, Madalyn told me in an email I received today that "I am a 17-year-old Junior at Hays. After high school, I would like to attend the University of Texas and major in Pre-Med. It is my goal to become an OB/GYN and has been since I was about 8-years-old!"

Monday, March 27, 2017

City officials laud school board for passing freeport exemption

Led by Mayor Todd Webster, elected officials, city staff representatives and members of the local business community joined in predicting a more viable economic future for Kyle in the wake of the Hays CISD school board’s vote tonight approving a freeport exemption for area businesses, thus thrusting Kyle and Buda into the list of communities known as "triple freeport."

The board voted 6-0, with Sandra Bryant, who is not seeking re-election to the board in May, abstaining, to grant a property tax exemption to non-petroleum related inventory held by a company for less than 175 days. The district joins the City of Kyle and Hays County in granting the exemption, hence the "triple freeport" designation, a label that has proved to be a business-location magnet in other areas of Texas.

"I’m really appreciative, I’m very glad they did it," Mayor Webster said. "It has the potential to be a game-changer for the City of Kyle and our economic development efforts. It’s been a long time coming and I’m very appreciative they decided to do it. I don’t think they are going to regret it for a minute. It’s a wonderful economic development opportunity for the city. What that might mean in additional tax revenue, not only for the city but also for the school district, will more than compensate for whatever is lost through the actual exemptions. And the way the statute is structured, the school district really doesn’t lose anything anyway.

"I’m confident it’s going to work out great," the mayor continued. "It shows that the members who supported it were listening to the facts and that they conducted an appropriate analysis on what this would mean to the community and the district.. Good job by them."

Webster’s sentiments were echoed by Kyle’s Economic Development Director Diana Torres, council member Travis Mitchell and Chamber of Commerce CEO Julie Snyder.

"This is a huge move forward for the whole entire Hays ISD school district area, including the cities of Kyle and Buda," Ms. Torres said. "We all partnered very well together to make this happen and we see some big things in our future."

"I’m proud of the school board," Mitchell said. ‘They were making a sound decision for the future of Kyle and Buda."

"I feel very good," Ms. Snyder said moments after the vote was taken. "I feel great. This means added resources for the district, for the community, new businesses."

During discussion on the issue, board trustee Willie Tenorio said he was compelled to address what he labeled "the elephant in the room."

"I didn’t want to bring this up, but I’ve had some requests from people to talk about it," Tenorio said. "Behind the scenes I was getting a lot of attacks from a small group of gentlemen on the City Council of Kyle, It seems like they were hoping I would stop asking questions. I’ve noticed a lot of Kyle politics has gotten really dirty lately."

Mitchell said he was baffled by Tenorio’s remarks.

"I have no idea what that was about," Mitchell said, without even having to be asked a question about what Tenorio said. "Everything I’ve said on freeport is public. I’ve published on it. I’ve only met with trustee Bryant and trustee (Esperanza) Orosco on the issue."

Webster was more blunt when he learned of Tenorio’s statement.

"Willie is a knucklehead," the mayor said. "And you can quote me on that."

Friday, March 24, 2017

P&Z plans Comp Plan workshop

The Planning & Zoning Commission has scheduled a workshop for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the mid-term amendments to the 2010 Comprehensive Plan.

The two most important words in that previous paragraph are "workshop" and "discuss." The reasons those words are so important is because they officially designate this meeting as one where no actions will be taken to change, approve or disapprove any these mid-term amendments. This will be, as the agenda plainly states, simply a "workshop" designed to facilitate "a discussion" on them.

So, you may be asking, after all this time, after all these meetings, what’s left to discuss? I can only guess because the on-line agenda was not accompanied by any amplifying information. But here’s my guess, for what it’s worth (and my guess along with a little more than $2 will buy you a gallon of 87-octane gas at just about any gas station in town). During the recent joint City Council-P&Z workshop on this matter, the staff was asked to prepare a couple of zoning ordinances to create some new zoning districts; for example, a zoning category that would allow for mixed-use developments and another that could be specifically applied for office buildings. The language of those ordinances has not seen the light of day anywhere that I am aware of and need to be outlined and discussed before any future action can be taken on them. What better opportunity than a workshop such as this to discuss those proposed ordinances?

Again, that’s just a guess.

Now it’s your turn. You’re free to have your own guesses as well. And, if you would like to wait until Tuesday’s workshop to make your guesses or to say anything else about Comp Plan amendments, there will be the regular Citizens Comments opportunity prior to any discussion among the commissioners.

Ethics Commission derails Tenorio’s strategy

I get it. Council member Daphne Tenorio understandably and probably quite desperately wants to prove she committed absolutely no ethics violations in a situation involving a pending economic development project for Kyle. But, in order to do that, she must first be charged with committing any ethics violations. Someone (or some thing) must allege she did something unethical.

So what did she do? She put The Kyle Report on trial.

Last night, I walked into an Ethics Commission meeting at City Hall fully expecting to cover a hearing on possible ethics complaints filed against Tenorio. It turned out to be a hearing on the ethics and journalism integrity of The Kyle Report, and the Ethics Commission exonerated this publication of any claims of making false accusations.

I’m not going to go into this at length because I prefer to report on the news more than being the subject of a news story and what happened at last night’s Ethics Commission meeting put me at the center of this story. Apparently Tenorio’s strategy was to prove she was completely innocent of any and all claims of ethical violations made The Kyle Report, since it is also apparent no one else has made any other such claims. At least, not so far. The obvious first step in this strategy was to get the Ethics Commission to rule what was reported in The Kyle Report actually constituted allegations of wrongdoing.

She never made it past the first step.

She is not going to have the opportunity to defend herself against any charges of wrongdoing — again, at least for now — because the members of the Ethics Commissions, after much discussion and debate and trying to figure out exactly what constituted an allegation and whether parts of sentences should be considered out of context from the complete sentences, voted unanimously last night that in some 13 statements Tenorio cited from The Kyle Report, not a single one constituted an actual allegation of any ethical violation.

So now the obvious question is "What happens next?". Does the entire matter drop right here or will there be any additional investigations or discussions on what actually transpired? Will the public ever learn the truth or will the City wash the entire matter through its recently created Stormwater Utility, wipe their hands of the entire affair and actually lend some credence to the notion of non-transparency in municipal government, especially when it comes to protecting one of their own?

Not only does the public deserve to know the truth, Tenorio deserves the opportunity to clear away any dark clouds hovering over her political reputation.

Through no fault of the Ethics Commission, neither transpired at last night’s commission meeting

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Goforth Road to get a name change

I can imagine a time back in the 19th Century when the serpentine path of Goofy Goforth Road actually made sense. Back then, it could have been one of the few trails in the entire county, an isolated, stand-alone pathway really not intersected by any other. It could have served as some necessary, albeit convoluted, distribution/delivery artery for local ranches.

Today, however, it’s a mess. It is, as I have repeatedly said, goofy. It heads off in one direction, only to suddenly veer off in another, gobbling up an already existing roadway in the process and then, after a while, like a cat with a furball, it regurgitates that existing roadway and then heads off, yet again, in an entirely new direction. Like I said, it’s goofy.

But now Goofy Goforth Road is not only getting a physical makeover, thanks to provisions in the 2013 Road Bond package, but it will be getting a substantial name change as well. City Manager Scott Sellers outlined a plan at last night’s City Council meeting to remove the goofiness from Goofy Goforth Road.

Let me try to outline this as simply as I can.

The City Council found enough money in the 2013 bond package to extend that part of Goforth Road that exists between I-35 and Bunton all the way north of Bunton to Kyle Parkway. That extension was dubbed Philomena Road, named after the patron saint of children, priests, virgins and, most apt of all, lost causes.

Under the proposed change Sellers outlined last night, that entire stretch of Goofy Goforth from I-35 to Kyle Parkway will soon bear the name Philomena Road. Bunton will remain Bunton at least all the way from the I-35 frontage road to the eastern city limits. No longer will a small section of Bunton be a part of Goofy Goforth, which will ultimately begin at its current southern terminus at Bunton.

That’s it, in a nutshell.

This proposed change, however logical it is — and, if nothing else, it is definitely logical — is undoubtedly going to be met with fierce resistence from those who have a business concern with an address that is now on Goofy Goforth but will soon become either Philomena or Bunton. They will voice their opposition based on the costs involved in the address-change process, including, but certainly not limited to, the printing of all new stationery, business cards, direct mailers, invoice forms — any business tool that bears the old street name. I have personally witnessed what I originally perceived to be the firm resolve of a city council wither under such a barrage of opposition. But that usually happens only when the proposed name change is being made solely to recognize and somehow venerate the name of some obscure historical figure or a recently deceased community activist certain council members feel is deserving of such permanent recognition.

This proposal, I think, should come to its logical, non-goofy, conclusion.

In other matters last night:
  • Rick Coleman, the owner of the property that currently contains the now defunct Central Texas Speedway, informed the council he has been engaged in conversations with a minor league baseball team that could lead to the construction of a baseball stadium on the site. He made this revelation during discussions over whether the council should approve an electronic sign permit that would allow him to erect a variable message billboard on the property adjacent to the northbound I-35 frontage road. He said that was one of the reasons he desired moveable images on the sign, so that he could feature live transmittals of the baseball game on the billboard. He also suggested if the baseball deal doesn’t work out he might locate a shopping complex on the property and use the billboard as a space for the complex’s tenants to advertise. In the end, the council voted 5-2 to approve the permit with council members Travis Mitchell and Shane Arabie voting in opposition on the legitimate grounds that billboards in general don’t add to the aesthetic Kyle is striving to achieve and maintain. Coleman did acknowledge the electronic billboard will feature a static sign attached to the bottom of it and facing the south that says something along the lines of "Welcome to Kyle." However, the billboard itself will project in both directions and nothing was mentioned about what, if anything, would be on the reverse side of the static sign.
  • The council witnessed a moving presentation from Hays High School student Madalyn Raymond who has found the courage to use a disability as a tool to help others. I am planning on writing more about Ms, Raymond’s presentation at a later date.
  • Voted 5-0 (council members Mitchell and Daphne Tenorio each cited conflicts that required they recuse themselves from the debate) to approve on first reading the much talked about amendments to the I-35 Overlay District that would prohibit any additional outdoor displays and sales of new and used motor vehicles, manufactured homes, RVs, etc., along the interstate corridor.
  • After postponing actions on three items until they could be discussed during a comparatively brief 37-minute executive session at the end of last night’s meeting, the council (1) voted 6-1 to approve an amended development agreement for the Sunset Hills Subdivision, (2) voted 6-1 to approve on first reading a companion piece to rezone the property where the aforementioned subdivision will be situated with the provision the City employ imminent domain, if required, to secure the easement for a gravity-driven wastewater line from the subdivision, and (3) voted 7-0 to approve a development agreement with Blanco River Ranch in spite of objections raised earlier in the meeting by the owners of the nearby Nance Ranch development.
  • City Engineer Leon Barba told the council the Burleson Street road bond improvements are being delayed because work still needs to be done on obtaining an easement at the railroad crossing. "What we don’t want to happen is have our contractor start and then has to wait on the railroad to finish the work," Barba said. "From what I understand it takes them at least six months or hopefully less to get the materials ordered. The plans are ready to go. We’re ready to go. We just need to get these easements wrapped up to make sure the railroad gets their work started." He also said work on Bunton is expected to be completed by September and once that is completed work will commence on the Lehman Road rehabilitation.
  • The council voted 6-1 to make the recently annexed Winfield Inn a conforming use. Council member Becky Selberra cast the one negative vote because, she said, she felt the owners of the property had not had sufficient discussions with neighboring property owners about the change.
  • The council unanimously approved a zoning change that would permit live music concerts outdoors on the property that once housed the Down South Railhouse on the south side of Center Street between the railroad tracks and Old Highway 81. Immediately after that, they denied in a unanimous decision a zoning request from someone who wanted to take some land on the west side of the aforementioned I-35 Overlay District to allow for construction manufacturing.
  • The council also approved a $100,000 reimbursement agreement with Union Pacific Railroad that could lead to the implementation of "quiet zones" at railroad crossings located at Roland Lane, Opal Lane, South Street and Center Street. These quiet zones would require the addition of gates, medians and any other devices needed to prevent motorists from trying to cross the tracks in the path of an oncoming train. Mitchell cast the one vote against the measure, arguing the expenditure should have been a part of the fiscal year budget so that the council wouldn’t have to vote on a budget amendment to provide the required funding, He said he immediately regretted his vote when Mayor Todd Webster jokingly dubbed Mitchell "as being solidly in favor of train horns."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mitchell vows “very exciting projects” if school board approves freeport exemption

City Council member Travis Mitchell told the Hays CISD school board last night that the board’s vote to approve a freeport tax exemption is personal and "a big one" to the City and that "several very exciting projects" that "can benefit our community in a very meaningful and impactful way" are waiting in the wings should that approval be forthcoming.

Later in the meeting, a city official said one of those projects alone could more than compensate the district for any losses it might incur by granting the exemption.

Mitchell was the only person to speak about the proposed tax exemption during the citizens comments period of last night’s board meeting.

The agenda for the meeting called for "consideration and possible action regarding adoption" of a motion that would exempt certain business inventory from property taxes levied by the school district. However, about an hour before the meeting was to commence, word came down that last night’s meeting was to be a work session only and no action would be taken.

A vote is expected next week, however, and the feeling among observers is the board will approve the exemption, by a 5-2 or even a 6-1 margin. If it does approve the measure, Kyle will achieve the distinction of becoming a designated "triple freeport" community, meaning all three major area taxing authorities — the city, the county and the school district — will have granted this exemption, which essentially exempts non-petroleum related inventory that’s kept within a business for less than 175 days from being subject to property taxes.

Many major business concerns only choose to locate in areas with triple freeport exemptions. These exemptions are, for example, the reason why the Amazon distribution center recently located in San Marcos and Samsung chose Manor for the location of a major manufacturing facility.

The school district has waited a long time to come around to granting the exemptions, party because of objections raised by no-growth board members and community activists, but also because those willing to support it wanted to negotiate separate contracts with eight local companies — CFAN, Goodrich UTC, RSI, Henderson Controls, Southwestern Pneumatic, Cabela’s, Ampersand Art Supply and the Fat Quarter Shop — to phase in the exemptions over a five-year period so that increased state funding during this period would neutralize the loss of revenue resulting from the exemptions. The board was informed last night the district has in its possession all eight signed contracts.

"I’ve spoken to many of you on this issue," Mitchell told the board. "It’s very personal to me and to the City as well."

The councilman acknowledged those from the Kyle Chamber of Commerce, City of Kyle officials and various economic development activists attending the meeting who support the exemption. "This is a big one for us," he said, "and it’s a big one for the school board. We recognize just how thorough you’ve been and find no fault whatsoever in taking time to really make sure you make a wise decision.

"We’ve got several very exciting projects that are waiting patiently for triple freeport," Mitchell told the board. "We look forward to being able to show, if you would support it, just how much that can benefit our community in a very meaningful and impactful way right up front."

Later in the meeting, when school board member Willie Tenorio, a member of the anti-exemption faction, pressed for information on exactly who or what those "exciting projects" were, an extremely hoarse Kyle Economic Development Director Diane Torres told him "The projects that council member Mitchell referred to are still highly confidential. I can speak to the fact that in just one of them it would more than cover the net $48,000 after year five going forward."

Monday, March 20, 2017

E-mail ties Tenorio to basketball team

A copy of an e-mail sent from council member Daphne Tenorio's address cancelling at Kyle Stallions basketball game.

Exactly two weeks before City Council member Daphne Tenorio’s attorney claimed in a letter to the City of Kyle that Tenorio had not purchased the Kyle Stallions semi pro basketball team, an e-mail sent from her personal e-mail account suggests she maintained some form of control over the team.

Tenorio’s possible ownership of the team has raised the question of whether she purchased it based on inside information provided to her solely because of her position on the Kyle City Council. It has been suggested in open City Council meetings that information she was privy to concerning the possible location of a sports complex on city leased land led her to purchasing the team.

Tenorio has asked the city’s Ethics Commission for "an advisory opinion" on the subject, similar, if not identical, to the opinion sought by council member Travis Mitchell from City Attorney Frank J. Garza when Tenorio claimed Mitchell’s company’s practice of doing business with the City constituted an ethics violation. Garza’s written opinion completely exonerated Mitchell.

At first, it was believed the Ethics Commission was going to conduct some form of investigation to determine whether Tenorio may have violated one or more sections of the City’s ethics ordinances by unethically, possibly even illegally, using information she obtained during closed, executive City Council sessions on the subject of this possible new economic development complex for Kyle that would include a venue for the Kyle Stallions for her own personal financial advantage. However, the wording of Thursday’s Ethics Commission agenda — "Discussion and possible action relating to request for an advisory opinion submitted by Council Member Daphne Tenorio on February 21, 2017" and "Discussion and possible action relating to a request for declaratory ruling submitted by Council Member Daphne Tenorio on February 21, 2017" — does not appear, on the surface, to be all that investigatory.

Be that as it may, her maneuver to have this heard by the Ethics Commission stopped, at least temporarily, possible criminal complaints being filed against her, complaints that were to be discussed during a Feb. 21 City Council meeting, but were quashed by Tenorio’s attorney’s filings with the Ethics Commission. City Attorney Frank Garza advised the council any such discussions could be seen as prejudicial to the Ethics Commission.

At that Feb. 21 meeting, Tenorio’s attorney provided a letter to Garza claiming Tenorio did not, at that time, own the team , a claim that seems to contradict Tenorio’s own claims of ownership on Facebook, a story in the Hays Free Press in which she talked about owning the team and, now, this e-mail obtained by The Kyle Report.

If the Ethics Committee is planning any sort of an investigation, it may find it difficult to get any information out of the Stallions organization — given the unlikely scenario that such an organization even functions today — since no one from the organization has responded in any way to my queries about Tenorio’s e-mail, its purpose and its background and, even more seriously, no one from the organization has responded to Lehman High School’s repeated requests to pay the school the money the basketball team owes the school for three past due invoices totaling $669, money that would have to be paid by the team’s owner, whoever that may be.

David L. Bowe, communications specialist for the Hays Consolidated School District, did, however, provide some background on the Tenorio e-mail.

"An e-mail was sent from Lehman High School to a contact for the Stallions asking if gyms were going to be used by the team on Feb. 11th, 18th, and 25th," Bowe told me. The only response he received was an e-mail that said: "Japan cancelled. So we must cancel our game. :("

That e-mail was dated Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 8:37 a.m. and it indicated it was sent from the e-mail address, council member Tenorio’s personal e-mail address. Tenorio has also refused my requests to shed additional light on this correspondence.

The e-mail was sent to Michelle Richardson, the athletic secretary at Lehman High School and the individual who appeared to represent the school in its dealings with the Stallions, dealings that turned very sour as the team’s first season in Kyle stumbled to its uncertain end. According to documents obtained by The Kyle Report, in addition to the Tenorio e-mail, the team not only is in hock to the school for $669, but even failed to appear on a couple of occasions when it had reserved Lehman’s gym for home games, leaving the school unguarded and vulnerable.

Things started going south for the Stallions before the end of last year. On Dec. 9, Ester Tavarez, the facility use coordinator and secretary to the director of custodial services at Lehman, received a notification from Evann Radabaugh, the poor sap who appears to be holding a lot of the Stallions’ baggage, especially for the unpaid invoices. Radabaugh, it turns out, is (assuming he still works for the Stallions — and, as I indicated earlier, it’s highly doubtful anyone still works for the Stallions) nothing more than an intern given the title as the organization’s "office administrator," according to the documents obtained by The Kyle Report. The Dec. 9 notification was basically a cancellation notice, which said the Stallions would not need the use of the Lehman gym for games originally scheduled for Dec. 11 and Jan.7.

Richardson tried to learn more about the cancellations by attempting to schedule a meeting with one Rachel Ates, who, at the beginning of the year, was identified as the owner of the Stallions. On Jan. 13, Ates sent Richardson an e-mail that said "Just an FYI, I will not be available on Wednesday, but any other day should be good. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you." Richardson e-mailed back: "Hi! I will respond soon!"

Four days later, on Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 3:54 p.m. Richardson e-mailed Ates: "I hope this finds you doing well! Are you available to meet Thursday at 3 p.m." Eighteen hours later, Ates replied: "We are no longer going to continue our ownership of the team at this time. The previous owners are taking it back and will be the ones solely responsible. They are interesting people and good luck with that. Thank you for your time."

You are free to interpret that sentence "They are interesting people and good luck with that" however you want to.

By Sunday, Jan. 29, Richardson had seen and not heard enough.

"I have reached out to the Kyle Stallions several times in the past two weeks requesting an updated schedule," she wrote Tavarez on that date. "They have cancelled games and have ‘no shows’ which has resulted in our facilities being OPEN without personnel on campus. I was informed they have a new team owner and only have two games left for this season. I have yet to receive any schedules or other information. At this point, I feel it is in our best interest to protect our facility by cancelling all events previously scheduled."

The timing of this e-mail that contains the sentence "I was informed they have a new team owner" is fascinating because it is right around the time Tenorio began posting Facebook notifications holding herself out to be the new owner of the Kyle Stallions which led to an interview with Hays Free Press news editor Moses Leos III during which she confirmed she owned the team. "By fielding a call from friend Leticia Luna earlier this year, Tenorio was given, and ultimately accepted, the opportunity to buy ownership of the Kyle Stallions basketball team," Leos wrote in a story that appeared in the newspaper’s Feb. 15 edition.

The Kyle Report also has in its possession copies of the past due invoices, each of which were sent twice to Radabaugh’s attention. One, totaling $350, is for a five-hour rental of Lehman High’s Blue Gym and its concession stands as well as security for Nov,. 5. The second, totaling $225, is for a three-hour rental with a note that said this invoice also covered an "open entry door by the concession stand." According to Bowe, the Stallions have also refused to pay a third past-due invoice for $94, an invoice The Kyle Report has not seen,

Saturday, March 18, 2017

City to consider agreement calling for 2,100 mostly smaller than average new homes

The City Council will consider and possibly approve a complex development agreement Tuesday involving annexations, de-annexations, the creation of a PID, design standards, street alignments and a host of other details that ultimately will result in the construction of 1,950 single family residences plus 150 garden homes on approximately a third of the Blanco River Ranch property.

Some 82 percent of the proposed new single family residences will be smaller than the size of the average Kyle home.

The agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting also calls for amending the I-35 Overlay District ordinances the Planning Commission recommended earlier this week along with other zoning changes and a method of financing a study that could lead to a quieter downtown.

The property involved in the proposed development agreement is southwest of the current Ranch Road 150 between Arroyo Ranch Road and North Old Stagecoach Road, basically on the other side of RR 150 from the new Anthem Development. The main entrance into the development will be off North Old Stagecoach. Much of the acreage is in Kyle’s ETJ and the agreement calls for that part of it within the city limits to be de-annexed to facilitate a PID being created for the entire property. A PID outside the city’s limits removes one of a PID’s more onerous features, double taxation. Under the agreement, the land will not be annexed for the 25-year-life of the PID bonds, once all those bonds have been repaid and assessments are no longer required. The proceeds from the sale of the PID bonds will be used to pay for necessary water and wastewater infrastructure.

One thousand of the homes on the 1,950 single family lots planned for the development will be at least 1,2000 square feet, 600 are planned to be at least 1,500 square feet and the other 350 are planned as homes with at least 2,000 square feet of living space. According to, the median home size in Kyle is 1,949 square feet.

The 100 proposed detached garden homes, 7 percent of the entire development, will contain at least 1,000 square feet of living space.

Although the city’s zoning ordinances are not applicable to the development since it is located in Kyle’s ETJ, the developers have agreed to comply with the city’s current development standards and design guidelines.

This first phase of the Blanco River Ranch development "will be developed as a master-planned community with substantial park land, open space, greenbelts, trails, park improvements, and amenity center(s)," according Section 2.08 of the Development Agreement.

Another section (3.01) specifies: "Owner will construct and install or cost-participate in the construction and installation of certain public improvements that are necessary for the City to provide water and wastewater service to the property and in the construction and installation of certain road and transportation improvements; landscaping, lighting and signage improvements; park land dedications and park improvements; drainage improvements; and other Public Improvements in connection with the development and improvement of the property. The City agrees to reimburse owner for all sums advanced and paid by owner for such public improvements through bonds issued by the PID to the maximum extent permitted by Chapter 372, Texas Local Government Code, and this agreement."

In a separate agreement Kyle co-negotiated with a utility created by Mountain City, called MC 150, in which Kyle would provide water for the Anthem development, MC 150 agreed to construct a two-million-gallon elevated water tank. The development agreement to be considered Tuesday would allow the Blanco River Ranch owners to share some of that water in return for paying MC 150 a proportionate share of the tank’s construction costs and the over sizing of the proposed water mains from 12 to 16 inches, providing the tank has been constructed by June 30, 2019. If the tank is not completed by that deadline, the Blanco River Ranch owners, according to the proposed development agreement, "may proceed with the design and construction of alternative facilities consisting of a 12-inch water line to be constructed in the FM 150 right-of-way from a point of connection to the City’s existing 12-inch water line at the intersection of FM 150 and Old Stagecoach Road to a booster pump station to be constructed at the location."

This may sound like I’m getting deep into the weeds here, but I thought it might be information worth having for those living along RR 150, north of 2770 and North Old Stagecoach Road.

Other items of note on Tuesday’s City Council Agenda:
  • Following Tuesday’s Planning Commission hearing, I gave a lot more thought to the proposed amendments to the I-35 Overlay District which would restrict the type of car sale facilities that could be built in Kyle along either side of the interstate. It would have no affect on current lots. It would only permit new auto sales facilities on the interstate that are completely contained within a building. I see the adoption of this ordinance as providing a unique opportunity for Kyle. I could see a developer converting a tract of land along the interstate into "the Kyle Auto Mart," a horseshoe shaped confluence of a number of different dealers (something like you see pictured here) where a potential new car buyer could simply park in one spot and walk from one dealership to another. I could also see some up to six food trucks located in the open spaces of the horseshoe. I’m not sure there’s anything remotely like that anywhere else. Talk about something that could make Kyle a destination city, although I will also admit a small amount of the bloom fell from this flower when I read in the Austin American Statesman later in the week about how patronage at the Sam Marcos outlet malls has decreased somewhat dramatically of late. But, still …
  • I also wrote after last Tuesday’s P&Z meeting, that if the City Council follows the commission’s recommendation and approves retail services zoning for the Winfield Inn property (thus making the Winfield a conforming operation), I would love to see Leslie Moore, the inn’s proprietor, locate a romantic, intimate, semi-upscale restaurant near the inn serving, at the very least, the items Moore features on his seated catering menu at the outdoor wedding facility. "You have read my mind," Moore wrote me after seeing my story on the commission’s meeting "I've been thinking of a way to do that and continue the wedding business at the same time. Once I get through all the technical issues of being annexed into the city I will be working on that dream. I've been searching for other old buildings to move onto the property and exploring the option of just building a restaurant from scratch. Not having city water or wastewater makes it tricky and more expensive but I'm sure my increase in taxes will push me even harder to get something done. In the meantime, I'm working on having a separate venue on the site that would be a low cost, family friendly, park like setting with a food truck for a kitchen. I'm guessing people in Kyle are much like people in Austin and love the great outdoors." So there’s that.
  • The city has prepared schematic plans for installing quiet zones along the Southern Pacific Railroad Line at Center Street and another at the South Street crossing. In addition, a consultant has developed similar plans for the crossings at Opal and Roland Lanes. For $100,000, Southern Pacific has agreed to (1) review and approve the City's preliminary engineering submittal and other related services, (2) develop cost estimates, (3) review the project's preliminary layouts, (4) submit current train and switching moves, and (5) establish a timeline for the completion of this project. Tuesday’s agenda contains an item to approve this deposit reimbursement agreement.
  • The approval of a double-sided variable electronic billboard on I-35 at the entrance to the Central Texas Speedway. The sign would not be subject to the City’s billboard ordinance, which mandates the removal of four billboard facings for every electronic one., because it would be on privately property and not highway right-of-way.
  • The expenditure of $487,687.31 for three new vehicles for the Public Works Department, all of which .were accounted for the in current budget. The largest amount, $389,399 or about 80 percent of the total appropriations. is for a model 114SD Vactor truck which looks something like this. From what I understand (and I must admit my knowledge on this subject is extremely limited) a vactor truck is a vacuuming device used for cleaning sewer lines.
  • City Engineer Leon Barba will present another in his series on the road bond projects and City Manager Scott Sellers is scheduled to give a presentation on the goofy paths of Goforth, Bunton and Philomenia (the Goforth extension, spur, whatever) roads.
  • The council is supposed to review the annual Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, commonly referred to as "the caffer," which is the city’s most important and revealing financial document, as well as the report from the independent auditor for the preceding fiscal year. "The City's independent auditors issued an unqualified or ‘clean’ auditors' report on the City's financial statements for the fiscal year," according to supporting material supplied by Finance Director Perwez Moheet. "This is the highest level or best type of independent auditors' report that can be issued on the financial statements of governmental entities including city governments." The audit confirmed that, at the end of the accounting period, the City had $237.4 million in assets, $104.2 million in liabilities, and, thus, a "net position" of $137.3 million, which is a $16.5 million or 13.7 percent increase in the net position from the previous fiscal year. The ending Genera Fund balance was $9.9. million, a 5.3 percent increase from the previous year. According to the transmittal letter accompanying the caffer, "Among the major indicators of a stable yet an expanding local economy include growth in population, building permits, taxable valuations, property tax collection rate, and the trend for sales tax collections." The letter said building permits increased by 15.5 percent over the previous year, "taxable valuations increased by 18.4 percent (tax year 2015) compared to the prior year, annual property tax collection rate has continued to surpass the 98 percent level, and sales tax collections increased by 13.6 percent compared to the prior year as well. Total population in the City of Kyle is projected to increase to an estimated 46,000 residents by the year 2020."

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Commission deals with routine agenda (almost) routinely

Casual observations from last night’s Planning & Zoning Commission meeting:
  • The three zoning items on last night’s agenda were slam dunks. No real discussion or debate was really necessary and ultimately the commissioners made the correct decisions: they recommended the City Council approve zoning changes to make an outdoor wedding venue a conforming use and another to inject some life into after-dark downtown Kyle by allowing for entertainment zoning on the site formerly occupied by the Down South Railhouse. On the third item they recommended the council not approve zoning to install a mulch pit on I-35. What befuddled me, however, was how ponderously the commissioners labored over their decisions on these three items. You would have thought they were deciding on whether to launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack on Buda, for crying out loud.
  • For some unexplained reason, commission chair Dex Ellison voted against making the Winfield Inn a conforming use. I have no qualms with the way he voted; commissioners have the freedom to make wrong-headed decisions. My problem is why he didn’t share his reasoning with the rest of the commission and the public. What was he hiding here? It’s true that these commissioners have no clue on the difference between "discussion" and "debate," but democratic decisions should be based on an open conversation of competing ideas and ideals. Ellison missed a golden opportunity to bring the commission out from the shadows and into the sunlight. He was the only commissioner to vote against it.
  • I have already published two articles on the Winfield Inn rezoning issue. The land, until late last year, was outside the city limits and, when it was incorporated into the city, it was done against the wishes of the property owners. But it seems to me that, since their involuntary annexation, the owners of the property, the husband-and-wife team of Magdalena Rood and Leslie Moore, have abided by the city’s rules and ordinances and worked in partnership with city planners to make the Winfield Inn a conforming use and, do to that, they needed to have that property rezoned from agriculture (which is the zoning designation originally applied to all annexed lands) to retail services. However, I understand if the council ultimately follows the commission’s recommendation and rezones the land, Rood and Moore could conceivably turn around and sell the 31.85 acres between Scott Street and Old Stagecoach Road to a developer who could tear down the inn and replace it with a shopping village of some sort. (I say "village," because the current infrastructure could not support a shopping complex such as those located on Kyle Parkway and I-35). But you know what? That would not necessarily be a bad thing either. I know the current residents of that area might not like it, but, in matters such as this, the needs and desires of future residents must also be considered. All kinds of new residential development is sprouting in this area and the folks who will be moving into these developments will need places to shop and they would desire that these places to shop would be easily accessible. In fact, a shopping village would be within easy walking distance of that KB Home development to be located on property almost adjacent to the Winfield Inn lot that recently received the new R-1-3 zoning designation. But here’s what I hope is in the immediate future for that property. Moore has been involved in the food preparation and catering business for more than 30 years and Kyle sure could use a comfortable, slightly upscale, white-linen-tablecloth dining option serving, at a minimum, most, if not all, the entrees Moore offers on his seated catering menu: "braised beef short ribs & cippolini onions with wild mushroom ragout; brown sugar-herb smoked salmon; thyme-crusted beef tenderloin with mustard demiglace; wildflower honey-orange lacquered chicken; crispy chicken with honey-thyme glaze; lobster mac + cheese." My mouth waters, my palate tingles, just writing those words. A restaurant like that, especially in that setting, would be a unique dining experience, not only for Kyle but for most of Hays County. It would quickly become the place for couples’ anniversary dinner celebrations and would complement the services at the nearby Winfield Inn. Just a thought.
  • Every item on last night’s agenda had a public hearing attached to it and, for the most part, those citizens speaking at these public hearings are either (1) completely uninformed about the subject under discussion; (2) have their own private agenda that may be tangentially relevant, but most often has nothing to do with the agenda item; or (3) simply clueless. Once in a blue moon (it didn’t happen last night), a speaker might add something worthwhile to the discussion but, most of the time, they are embarrassing and a waste valuable time that can never be recouped.
  • Speaking of being "simply clueless," I realized during last night’s meeting that I committed a grievous error a couple of days when I wrote the commission was considering a ban on any additional auto dealerships on I-35. I have mentioned this before, but I was born and spent my formative early years in the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Queens. Now, anyone who has spent any time in those two areas will tell you they are devoid of sprawling new and/or used car lots, but they contain plenty of auto dealerships. They are simply totally contained inside buildings about the size of a Kohl’s or an Office Depot; i.e., they don’t store their entire inventory on-premise. Car dealerships exactly like those would be permitted in the I-35 Overlay District, according to a recommendation passed along to the City Council on a 5-1 vote last night from the planning commission (Irene Melendez cast the one lone vote). I’m not quite sure the commissioners grasped this concept or the fact that car lots would be acceptable on properly zoned areas on any other street, boulevard or highway in Kyle; I think they only considered the aesthetics in their decision-making process, but that’s OK. I also got to thinking last night about Dallas, where I made my home for a little more than 40 years and try as I could, I couldn’t recall a single car dealership lot located along an interstate highway within the Dallas City Limits. So last night’s decision is definitely not without precedent.
  • I wondered about Planning Director Howard Koontz’s announcement that the March 28 commission meeting would be a "workshop" to review the proposed changes to the Comprehensive Plan because I’m wondering what is there to review. The Planning Commission was given more than a year to tinker with a mid-term update to the plan, but abrogated that responsibility, forcing the City Council to schedule and conduct a joint council-commission workshop in January to get the job done. And they got the job done. Commissioner Timothy Kay, for one, is threatening changes to what was agreed upon during that workshop which is ridiculous simply because (1) agreement was reached at that January meeting; and (2) if the commissioners refused to do the job they were asked to do originally, they have absolutely no right to start exerting territorial prerogatives at this late a date. The commissioners had their opportunity and they blew it. But now a deal has been struck and I’m betting council members will not look favorably on any commissioners who think now is the time for them to make their dissenting opinions, let alone their changes, known.
  • The commissioners were asked to approve the minutes of seven previous commission meetings last night and commissioner Brad Growt moved to have those approvals postponed to give commissioners more time to review them. His motion was approved 5-1 (Kay dissenting). Near the end of the meeting, Ellison used Growt’s motion as an example of why it might be preferable if commissioners received their packet of information on each meeting earlier than the Friday afternoon immediately preceding that respective meeting. And I started thinking that they way the staff prepares the agenda should follow the example used by many other municipalities. The bulk of the agenda, including all minutes and all items involving public hearings, can be provided to commissioners a week earlier than they are currently, thus providing commissioners an additional seven days to study the material. (I know this to be a fact because of publishing requirements in the newspaper of record. Not only that, it was clearly evident from the questions commissioners posed last night as well as the absence of necessary questions they neglected to ask that they didn’t have sufficient time to study the material before the meeting.) If the staff needs to add any items to the agenda at the last minute, they could do so on an official "agenda addendum" made public on that following Friday that immediately precedes the meeting. Problem solved.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

City’s budget gap shrinks a tad

March’s sales tax collections were 1.81 percent higher than forecast in the current budget, reducing the city’s budget gap to $83,841.57.

Let me remind everyone, this does not mean the city is $83,000-plus in debt. It only means it has that much less to spend this year than it anticipated, kind of like that salesperson whose commissions were not as much as he or she expected and possibly budgeted for. It's also important to note that this $83,000 represents a miniscule 0.39 percent of the City's General Fund forecast for the current fiscal year and only 1.13 percent of the total forecasted sales tax revenues.

For the first six months of the current fiscal year, sales tax receipts have surpassed expectations in half of them. The problem is the average of three surplus months was $6,815.20 while the average for three deficit months was $34,762.33. That’s a significant difference.

The budget called for the city to collect $501,544 in sales taxes for March, the second lowest of any month so far this fiscal year. The collected amount was $510,619.29. These figures represent sales for the month of January.

It should also be noted that sales tax collections aren’t an ideal gauge of retail sales. Many food products are exempt. Taxes on motor vehicle sales and rentals are reported separately. The data is not seasonally adjusted, so it can only be compared to the same months in prior years. But online sales are taxed in Texas and are included in this tally. So tax collections are an unvarnished approximation for a large part of retail sales.

It is also worth noting that sales tax collections to date this fiscal year in Kyle are 10.65 percent higher than they were for the first six months of the previous fiscal year, which contrasts with the state as a whole, which is averaging 2.9 percent less in sales taxes than the year before. This is because statewide sales tax figures are far more dependent on manufacturing, wholesale trade and oil- and gas-related sales tax receipts than the Kyle economy is and those categories have been drastically under performing of late.

At the same time it is highly doubtful that the city’s population is 10.65 percent higher than it was the same time last year. So there’s that.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

City seeks to ban additional car dealerships on I-35

The City plans to ask the Planning & Zoning Commission Tuesday to recommend amending the provisions of the I-35 Overlay District to prohibit any more car dealerships along the interstate within Kyle’s city limits.

Community Development Director Howard Koontz plans to argue that these car lots waste valuable space, generate no sales taxes to the city and that they create few jobs.

According to Chapter 53-892 (a) (1) of the city’s codes, "The Interstate Highway 35 corridor conditional use overlay district (the 1-35 overlay district) extends from the northernmost city limit boundary at 1-35 to the southernmost city limit boundary at 1-35, and includes all real property within 1,500 feet of the outer most edge of the highway right-of-way of 1-35."

The overlay district dictates specific construction standards for businesses that wish to locate in Kyle along I-35. The intent of the standards, implemented in December 2012, were designed to make the city look as appealing as possible to motorists traveling on the interstate. Currently, the districts permits car dealerships, but only with a conditional use permit.

The amendment the commission will be asked to consider Tuesday, according to a memo prepared by Koontz, "would preclude motor vehicle and trailer sales, rental and leasing from establishing in the I-35 overlay corridor." Koontz said, however, these uses would be permitted if the business consisted of a single enclosed building and, even then, only with a conditional use permit.

"Motor vehicle dealers most often situate themselves in clusters, and those lots consume large tracts of land area for outdoor displays of their merchandise," Koontz wrote. "Since automobile sales do not generate local sales tax for the city, only the land on which the dealership exists would be liable for property tax, there is very little incentive for the city to accommodate them as land uses.

"Similarly, auto dealerships are not typically high volume employers, meaning there would be few opportunities for employment as related to the expansive land area consumed for the use." Koontz wrote. "As it stands today, the high visibility areas along I-35 should be reserved for those uses that provide for the needs of the motoring public, and for those uses that are less desirable as locations in toward our neighborhoods."

If the commission approves Koontz’s request, it would then be forwarded to the City Council for adoption, possibly as early as March 21. If the council approved it, Chapter 53-899 (d) 1 of the city’s code would read: "All motor vehicle and trailer sales, rentals or leasing are prohibited from operating outdoors in the I-35 Overlay District. This includes, but is not limited to, the sale, rental and leasing of cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, water craft, recreational vehicles, all terrain vehicles, OHV vehicles, buses, trailers, farm and lawn equipment, construction equipment, demolition equipment, commercial vehicles, limousines, and all other similar vehicles not listed. This description of outdoor vehicle sales applies to this entire section, including the ‘Exceptions’ subsection."

It is highly unlikely the amendment, if it passes, would have any affect on Mitchell Motorsports, located on the east side of I-35 between Center Street and Kyle Parkway, which is owned by City Council member Travis Mitchell. However, Mitchell did confirm he would recuse himself if the recommendation advanced to the council level.

"I believe it would be a conflict for me to vote or participate in this discussion," Mitchell said today.

The commission will also have three zoning requests on its Tuesday agenda, one I’ve already talked about that would make the outdoor wedding venue at the Winfield Inn a conforming use, one that could create an outdoor music venue downtown and a third, likely to be rejected, for a facility to store and sell landscape materials on land included within the aforementioned I-35 Overlay District.

John R. Nelson, the owner of the property at 107 E. Center Street that was formerly the location of the Down South Railhouse, seeks to have the location rezoned from retail services to a joint retail services/entertainment zoning. "Our goal," Nelson wrote in a letter to the City, "is to offer a outdoor entertainment venue for the City of Kyle and surrounding areas and offer live music."

The City is asking the commission to favorably recommend the zoning change to the City Council because, among other reasons, such a change "can potentially maximize what the current property can offer to the public in the form of an entertainment venue."

I’m expecting the usual anti-growth, anti-change cast of characters to come to the public hearing to oppose the change on the grounds that it will increase traffic to intolerable levels, as well as littering, public nuisances and perhaps even criminal activity in that area, none of which, except possibly the traffic concerns, can be quantified. But on the subject of traffic, the City is noting: "The section of Old Highway 81 adjacent to the parcel will likely receive much of the additional vehicular traffic. Most of the expected venue’s business will likely be during the evening and in normal circumstances, the timing of the increased vehicular load shouldn’t significantly add to peak hour traffic on the surrounding road networks traffic capacity." So there’s that.

The third and final zoning request is from Rodolfo and Guadalupe Martinez together with Mary Ann Mendoza to rezone 13½ acres at I-35 and SR 208 from agricultural to construction manufacturing so that it can be used "to store and sell landscaping materials such as mulch, topsoil, sand and gravel." The land bordering the property on the north is zoned retail services and the property south remains agriculturally zoned.

The problem with the request is that the requested zoning use is not permitted by the Comprehensive Plan for this area designated by the plan as New Settlement Community, but, more important than that, is the fact that it is currently not serviceable by municipal wastewater infrastructure and would require septic. And the last thing a city that hopes to be thought of as a up-to-date, viable, livable, sustainable community needs to do is to add more septic, especially along its principle commercial corridor. Honest Sam’s Used Car Lot would be preferable.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Mayor fears wastewater change could jeopardize Yarrington development

Mayor Todd Webster said last night he is concerned that a major change in the construction of a wastewater line extending to the southern border of Kyle "could put the entire Yarrington Road development in jeopardy," adding he was now anxious to meet with the developers to reassure them of the city’s commitment to provide the needed infrastructure to that area.

Under an original multi-jurisdictional agreement created to block the construction of a giant truck stop at the northwest corner of Yarrington and Interstate 35, the cities of Kyle and San Marcos agreed to share in an effort to provide wastewater infrastructure to that area, with the actual wastewater from that site going to San Marcos’s treatment plant. However, last night City Engineer Leon Barba broke the news to the City Council that, basically, the cities’ respective systems are not completely compatible and that Kyle, alone, would have to provide the needed wastewater services. Barba estimated those services could be operable by the end of 2018. Webster, however, said his conversations with the developers, PGI, indicated to him they expected the services to be ready a year earlier than that.

"If this raises questions with PGI about our commitment to provide wastewater services in a timely fashion, they are naturally going to wonder ‘What’s going on with this’," Mayor Webster said following last night’s council meeting. "From where I sit we should have had a conversation with them to prepare them and to affirm whatever our commitment is. Frankly, from where I sit, I didn’t have the opportunity to do that. Now I’m going to have to circle back with PGI and try to provide some reassurance to them that we’re not going to back away from our commitment to this."

According to a concept plan unveiled in mid-January, the development was expected to include a retail anchor store, restaurant pads, two hotels, a convenience store with an eight-pump gas station and several other retail sites.

The mayor stood by the statement he made during the council meeting that this decision to go it alone could actually jeopardize this development.

"The number one issue for PGI was us getting them sewer as fast as possible so that they could develop," he said. "I’m going to find out what we can do to provide some sort of temporary accommodations so that area can develop. We’ve done it before. It can be on-site septic. We could truck it out. I don’t care. But we promised them what we were going to do."

Webster said there was never any firm date established as a deadline for when the development would have wastewater services "but I thought it would certainly be earlier than the end of 2018. It’s just taken us a whole year to get where we are now — a year of working on it and suddenly we’re not going to go in that direction.

"I’m just frustrated right now," he said. "How you do things matters. It just feels wrong that we’ve gone in a completely different direction without telling them. It seems to me a year ago we were on a much faster time line than the end of 2018. We’ve spent a year negotiating with San Marcos about something that’s now never going to come to fruition. It should have been the end of 2017, not the end of 2018. We never seem to come out ahead on negotiations with our good neighbors to the south. In this particular instance, it didn’t work out in our favor again.

"You have no idea how many people are lining up to develop on that property and if we’re not careful they’re all going to go away."

Webster said his greatest fear is that these people might not understand what’s happening and might start "to question our commitment to following through on the promises we made. Given the history of that property owner and what has happened to them over the last couple of years, they could give up. It would be nice to have had those questions answered before we announced at City Council we weren’t going to be running the wastewater to San Marcos any longer.

The mayor said he personally was the intermediary between the city and the property owner.

"Those are my commitments that just got traded away," he said. "I made them on good faith based on what I was told. This is a developer that needs to be constantly shown we are following through on our commitments. We’re going to need some sort of answer on wastewater before the end of 2018. No question. That’s what I’m going to work on now."

Also during last night’s meeting:
  • Special Programs Specialist Sarah Watson outlined a number of events the city expects to host this year including a music festival that will take place on the same dates as the second weekend of the Austin City Limits Festival which could either be a blessing (by coordinating with the ACL promoters, the Kyle festival could attract more prominent artists to appear than might have been otherwise possible) or a curse (ACL could suck all the air out of the room). She also talked about an "Art the Halls" program she said "provides an opportunity for artists in the area to submit and showcase their artwork at the Kyle Library and City Hall." The part of this I found most intriguing and satisfying was when she announced ‘This year we’re hoping to feature an installment through the Kyle correctional facility so the members that are in that facility will be able to feature their artwork." This art will be featured during August and September and will include, Watson said, a meet-the-artist session although she was not specific on where and how that meeting would take place.
  • Council member Shane Arabie switched his vote from "no" to "yes’ on the second reading of an zoning ordinance to create a Public United Development on Creekside Trail, so this time it passed 5-2. I failed to get an explanation for his change of mind.
  • The council decided not to change the name of Philomena Drive, the temporary name given to the extension of Goforth Road between Bunton and Kyle Parkway. Council member Becky Selbera recommended changing it to (I think) Alberta Lane. The reason I say "I think" that was her recommendation is because, for some reason known only to her, she refuses to use the personal microphone available to her when she speaks and, because she speaks in softer tones than all other council members, it is often extremely difficult to hear what she says, a frustration that is probably shared by those watching the council sessions from home. Whatever, her motion failed 4-3, with only council members Travis Mitchell and David Wilson joining her to vote in the affirmative.
  • The council unanimously agreed to appoint Mitchell and Arabie to be the city’s representatives on the CAPCOG General Assembly.
  • Capping a 42-minute discussion, most of which had absolutely nothing to do with the subject under consideration, the council unanimously adopted the policy I outlined Monday for the appointment of members to boards and commissions with one change. In fourth bullet item of that policy wrote about, instead of having "a second-round interview process conducted by city staff," that interview will now be conducted by the staff person with oversight jurisdiction of that committee, the chair of the relevant committee, the city manager and the mayor, or their respective designees. What was not stated specifically was whether those would be four separate interviews or whether an attempt would be made to juggle enough schedules to get all those individuals (or their designated replacements) in the same room at the same time for one interview. I’m guessing the council’s implication was that it would be the latter, but, again, it was not specified.