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City Council Approves Rezoning Requests, Grant Application, Hears Project Updates

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Sulphur Springs City Council approved rezoning requests and a grant application for a new project this week. City Finance Director reports March sales tax numbers were up.

Rezoning Requests

The city council approved on second and final reading ordinances granting rezoning requests from Larry and Linda Evans and Chuck Sickles during the the regular council meeting on June 1, 2021.

The Evans asked that their property at 1340 South Hillcrest Drive be changed from single family to heavy commercial to better fit the existing uses and potential use of the 0.9-acre property along the State Highway 19/Interstate 30/Loop 301 corridor.

Essentially, when property in the area of Wildcat Way was annexed into the city, some properties received a single family place-holder designation. The property is currently surrounded by a mix of zoning designations, light commercial to the north, east and south; and heavy to light commercial to the west.

Ordinance 2780 making the zoning change was first approved during the May City Council meeting, at the recommendation of city staff, who reported heavy commercial zoning would be appropriate given the context of the area, and the Planning and Zoning Commission, who recommended approval during their April meeting.

Sulphur Springs City Council also approved Ordinance 2781 on final reading. Chuck Sickles at the same April 2021 Planning & Zoning Commission meeting asked that 2.5 acres of property at 1079 Rockdale Road and 1084 Rockdale Road be rezoned from single family to heavy commercial as well.

Sickles reported body body shop facilities are currently operated on the properties, which have split zoning across property lines on the lots. In order to clean up the zoning, Sickles asked that the property be zoned heavy commercial, which is consistent with the body shop use, which the property frontage is zoned.

Surrounding the Rockdale Road properties are a mix of zoning designations: heavy commercial to the west and south, and single family to the north and east. City staff reported at the May 2021 City Council meeting that rezoning the Rockdale Road properties to all heavy commercial would also be an appropriate use given the context of the area and the fact that it fits the land use plan of commercial property along I-30 and Rockdale Road. The P&Z Commission too approved the request in April, sending it to the city council for first reading in May.

Grant Application, Branch Project

The City Council was also asked to consider Resolution 1242 approving an application for a Texas Department of Transportation 2021 Transportation Alternatives Set Aside Project grant. The council gave city staff the go ahead to proceed with an application which would help fund development of a linear open space area just west of downtown, a linear open space with the town branch and lake drainage detention basin as key features.

City Manager Marc Maxwell explained to the council that the grant is the same type of grant the city received for the Cross Town Trails project, which connects Coleman and Buford Parks to the downtown area via construction of sidewalks along Connally Street to the square. The deadline for the grant application is this month. Getting it in puts the city in line for federal grant funding awarded through the Department of Transportation. The linear area would span from Van Sickle to the railroad and City Hall to Rogers Street on the west side. This had been planned for development along with other open space projects, but funding did not allow.

The grant would fully fund the project, with no funding or matching required by the city, if approved.

After giving approval to city staff to apply for the grant funding, the City Council then considered a proposal from Toole Design Group to provide design services for that linear area west of downtown. This first includes Ian Lockwood and his team, who would spend four days in Sulphur Springs holding design charrettes, during which city residents’ input would be sought, then used to devise a plan for that space using that input, Maxwell explained. This would follow the same process used for the parks plan devised and including renovations and additions at Pacific Park and the Senior Citizens building.

The council also gave approval for Toole Design Group to provide design services for the space.

Project Updates

Lumber where rollup doors are supposed to be installed at some point in the future inside the new Grays Building

The City Council held a brief executive session meeting 30 minutes before Tuesday’s regular open session to discuss two potential economic development projects, labeled Project Hold Fast and Project Flourish. The council during regular session voted to allow the city manager to sign an agreement for Project Flourish. Information regarding the project will be available only after the agreement is signed.

Maxwell, in his monthly manager’s report, told the council that the new HW Grays Building in Pacific Park is nearly completed. The generator will be installed next along with various plumbing fixtures and appliances. The big remaining issue is the 3 large roll-up doors. The city manager reported the “delivery date is a moving target,” which as of Tuesday night, he had no reason to believe that the doors have even been manufactured. He said he’d been given more than one excuse as to why the doors have not arrived, including delays due to COVID-19’s impact on the construction industry. He noted he would be meeting with project manager Don Roundtree to discuss whether a breach of contract should be declared and to determine how to proceed regarding the matter of the as yet unseen rollup doors.

The building will be available for Juneteenth, but the roll-up doors may not be in, according to the city manager.

Oak Avenue location where the new Senior Citizens Center is scheduled to be constructed

Maxwell also reported there had been some staff changes at REES Associates, the architectural firm preparing the design for the new Senior Citizens Center, which prolonged the design process. Tandem Consulting, the company overseeing construction of the Grays Building, has been hired to oversee construction of the Senior Citizens building. He said he is nervous due to the continued increases in costs of construction materials during the intervening time since the start of the design process for the new facility.

City Finance Director Lesa Smith reported notices had been posted that the city is currently seeking bids for pre-engineering for a new metal building to become the senior citizens center. Those bids are due in by 11 a.m. June 29, 2021.

Maxwell also noted Duckworth Street will receive improvements this year as part of the city’s annual Street Improvement Program. The street, will be funded not by the street maintenance free budget. Maxwell said the street department had some extra funding left, which will be applied to help fund repaving of Duckworth Street. That bring the total budgeted for street maintenance to $1.1 million this year, including $502,000 from the $5 street maintenance fee attached city utility bills.

Overall, 19,391 linear feet or 3.67 miles of city streets have been identified for improvements this year, including on Austin Street from Davis to Brinker Street, Beckham Street from Oak Avenue To Elm Street, from the cul de sac to the end of Gena Drive, South League Street from Bellview Street to Pampa Street, Lee Street from Davis Street To South Broadway Street, North Davis Street from Houston to Bonner Street, Patton Street from College Street to Weaver Drive, Phyllis Court from College Street to the cul de sac, Texas Street from Tate to Lee Street then from Lee Street to Industrial Drive, and various spots on Woodbridge Crossing.

Saputo sewer main project work in progress

Maxwell reported the Saputo sewer main project did not progress as quickly as they’d hoped due to the wet weather, with 50 percent of the project complete (10 percent more than in May). In fact, he said, there have been whole days in which crews were unable to do any work at all on the project to install a new sewer main starting at Saputo, continuing under Interstate 30, then continuing south for 3,500 feet before connecting to an existing trunk line. The project wraps around the sides and back of KSST studios on East Shannon Road. This week crews have begun working in front of KSST, which has included periodically stopping to scrape red clay off red clay, where it has piled up on chains and tires of heavy equipment.

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Author: Faith Huffman

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