At the same meeting, the Kyle Area Youth Advisory Committee (KAYAC) will release the details of its Sidewalk Master Plan study which recommends increased pedestrian connectivity, more lighting for sidewalks and a funding system for sidewalk repairs that appears to be in conflict with current city policies.
The current animal control ordinance Mitchell seeks to amend requires these animals to be kept in a pen, coop or hutch designed to "securely confine" the animals. Mitchell is seeking to change the ordinance to remove the confinement requirement and only require that a pen, coop or hutch be "available" and located somewhere on the property that’s "at least 20 feet from neighboring residences and at least 10 feet from the owner’s residence." It also states the animals "must remain on owners property behind a fence, on a leash, or on a tether."
"I didn't think it made sense to require chickens to be kept in a coop at all times," Mitchell said today. "We don't require dogs to be kept in kennels at all times, after all. So I modeled the chicken ordinance after the section on dogs and cats with a few obvious alterations."
Mitchell’s proposal also removes a section that restricts the ownership of these animals to persons living in single family residences zoned R-1-1. He is recommending those changes, he said, due to new state laws pending legislative passage.
"The state Senate recently passed SB 1620 which will allow the keeping of up to six hens in political subdivisions," Mitchell said. "That bill is expected to be passed by the House in the coming weeks. While our current ordinance does allow the keeping of up to six hens, it restricts that use based on ‘qualified zones,’ which is defined only as R-1-1. I am proposing to use a setback rule instead of a particular zone. This will bring our ordinance into compliance with the new state law and will make the ordinance based on distance from residences instead of the illogical restriction of only R-1-1. I call it illogical because the vestigial R-1 zone has the same basic setback rules but technically isn't considered a ‘qualified zone.’ Also, subdivisions like Quail Ridge have very large lots but also aren't considered ‘qualified’ under the current ordinance."
Mitchell did add that "if your HOA doesn't allow chickens, that policy will be unchanged with this minor text revision."
Noting that sidewalks provide environmental, economic and health benefits KAYAC’s Master Plan on this subject calls for more and better maintained sidewalks in Kyle, but does not make any recommendations on exactly where new sidewalks should be located.
"Kyle’s sidewalks currently have a number of flaws," KAYAC’s Master Plan states. "The first is absence, meaning that sidewalks simply are not present in areas where they are needed, including around schools. The second issue is discontinuity, where a sidewalk exists, but features gaps in pavement. Discontinuity is common in downtown Kyle, and becomes more apparent as one moves north or south of Center Street. A third issue with Kyle’s existing sidewalks is the condition of disrepair; that is, sections of certain sidewalks are cracked, uneven, penetrated by vegetation, or too narrow, making them more difficult to pass over."
Specifically, KAYAC called for more sidewalks connecting schools to the residential areas the school serves. It specifically cited the neighborhoods around Lehman High School, especially those living within the two mile radius of the school who are not eligible for bus service. The report cited Lehman Road’s "total lack of sidewalks" and the fact that it crosses Plum Creek requires student/pedestrians to either walk through running water or across a bridge and risk being hit by a motor vehicle.
"The lack of sidewalks around Lehman High School incentivizes parents and students on Lehman Road to drive to school, which increases traffic and indirectly the risk of collision," KAYAC’s Master Plan says. It also added the situation "leads to more pollution from idling cars." The report says similar conditions can be found in the vicinities of Hays High School and Barton and Wallace middle schools.
"It is with regard to the safety of Kyle’s youth that KAYAC recommends prioritizing repairs for and construction of sidewalks around Kyle’s public schools," the Master Plan states.
KAYAC’s report found that "poor lighting was a problematic for Kyle’s sidewalks. This is a valid concern because poor lighting increases the risk of car-pedestrian collisions, even if a sidewalk is present. Additionally, good lighting is important to increasing the safety of sidewalks at night, since good lighting makes it easier for one pedestrian to see when another approaches."
One recommendation that seems in conflict with current policies is one which KAYAC suggests "the city encourages private property owners in addition to housing developers to maintain and/or expand their surrounding sidewalks and paths by offering subsidies. These subsidies can be anything from tax breaks to partial reimbursement depending on the level of expansion or maintenance deemed appropriate by the city to help finance initial expansion and improvement."
Actually, it is Kyle’s policy, as it is the policy of every municipality I’ve been associated with, that it’s the sole responsibility of a property owner to maintain the good condition of the sidewalks on that owner’s property. The only difference among various cities is the methods employed to make this happen. Council member David Wilson recently announced a plan for Kyle property owners to effectively put a sidewalk repair company on retainer so that it could afford to offer property owners a lower-than-average rate for sidewalk repairs.
Most municipalities invoke a petition requirement before undertaking new or expanded sidewalks in residential areas to make sure more than a simple majority of the affected property owners agree to the additional costs for which they will be responsible.
Other items of interest on Tuesday’s agenda include:
- The only public hearing scheduled for the meeting involves an item that probably won’t even be dealt with — revisions to the city’s Comprehensive Plan. A last minute monkey wrench was tossed into the discussions on the plan at last Tuesday’s Planning & Zoning Commission when a directive relayed to the commissioners from the city’s staff said, in effect, elements of various development agreements had to be included in the revised plan. As far as I’m concerned (1) a development agreement binds the property owner, the city and their respective successors-in-interest for the term of the agreement regardless of any wording contained in a Comprehensive Plan and (2) trying to incorporate the terms of development agreements into the Comp Plan at this stage in the discussion is an unnecessary delaying tactic. However, a motion made during the P&Z meeting to move the proposed plan on to the council failed on a 3-3 vote. At the same time it should be noted that the official published minutes of the January joint council-planning commission workshop shows that the council specifically instructed commissioners to alter the zoning requirements in and the descriptions of two specifically named land use districts in order that they more accurately reflect the development agreements that existed in those districts. Up until last week, the commission had, for whatever reasons, completely ignored those instructions so Tuesday’s vote to postpone consideration of the updated Comp Plan until such changes could be added and approved might simply be seen as a last minute attempt to follow those original instructions. (NOTE: The author of this blog is currently a member of Kyle's Planning & Zoning Commission.)
- Plans to annex and then de-annex property located on the Blanco River Ranch. It isn’t clear from the wording attached to the agenda item whether the 242.12 acres of the 592.91-acre ranch that is being de-annexed includes the 119.2 acres that is being annexed by the same agenda item. (A map accompanying this item would have been helpful.) Nor is any reason being given for the maneuver, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if it didn’t have something to do with the location of the new RR 150 that could be going through the property. Perhaps we’ll get some clarity during a discussion of the item.
- The first reading of an amendment to the city’s fire code that would reduce required pavement widths in Kyle for certain newly constructed streets from 24 feet of unobstructed pavement width to 20 feet unobstructed.
- A possible agreement with BioDAF Water Technologies of Golden, Col., to conduct a pilot program to ascertain whether it has the ability to transform the wastewater treated at the city’s wastewater treatment plan into water that could be reused for irrigation of green areas, cooling towers, industrial cleaning, and the like. You can learn more about what the company will be attempting to achieve here.
- Following an executive session, presumably so that council members can learn what legal recourse, if any, the city has involving the delays surrounding wastewater pipeline repairs along Center Street that took 81 days longer than expected, and thus cost $35,803.36 more than anticipated, because of its proximity to Wallace Middle School, the city will be asked to approve a pair of change orders that will pay the contractor, Guerra Underground of Austin, a total of $48,406.36 more than the originally agreed upon cost of the project.
- The purchase of a Ford F450 bucket truck designed to help the Public Works Department expedite the repair of broken street and traffic lights.
- The purchase of a dual thermoplastic premelter at a cost of $61,605 and I think we can all agree that no self-respecting city should be without its own dual thermoplastic premelter. To be honest, I have absolutely no clue as to what this is, but I think it may have something to do with pavement markings.
- Although city leaders usually like to make a big deal over honorary designations recognizing the likes of veterans, scouts, orphans, etc., for some reason a proclamation declaring May as Fair Housing Month in the city and urging "all the citizens of this locality to become aware of and support the Fair Housing law" is being buried as part of the Consent Agenda, I guess this is a clue to how little emphasis the city will place on efforts toward providing fair housing in Kyle.
- On April 17, Hays County Justice of the Peace Andrew Cable awarded $2,970.05 held as either forfeited, found or unclaimed money held by the Kyle Police Department to the City of Kyle, Another item on Tuesday’s consent agenda seeks to allow the KPD to spend $2,529.99 of this money on such items as surveillance cameras, a $900 scanner, a $330 six-foot stainless work table, a $399 digital measuring kit, a $340 thermal label printer and other gadgets presumably needed in the constant battle against the criminal element.
- Yield signs are currently in place at four intersections located just south of downtown in the vicinity of the Kyle Fire Department station — South Nance Street/Miller Street, South Nance Street/West South Street, South Burleson Street/West South Street and South Main Street/West South Street. According to City Engineer Leon Barba the intent of these signs was to facilitate the free flow of traffic in an east-west direction on Miller and South streets because north-south traffic on Nance, Burleson and Main would be forced to yield. "After receiving a complaint, staff from the Kyle Police Department, the Public Works Department and the Engineering Department visited the subject intersections to observe the existing conditions," Barba wrote in a memo to City Manager Scott Sellers. "Based on our observations, it appears the yield signs are not effective enough to slow down the vehicles going in the northbound/southbound directions, In fact, some vehicles do not even slow down as they go through the intersections." Hence, Item 9 on Tuesday’s consent agenda is the first reading of an ordinance to replace those yield signs with stop signs.