Council sits on offer to help business

Motion to assist training company with water line dies; MDD funds, not city’s, would have been used
Reporter Editor

A proposal to provide city water and sewer service to the new Associated Training Services (ATS) facility north of Rockdale died for lack of a second at Monday’s city council meeting.

The project would have been paid for with funds generated by the new Municipal Development District (MDD).

“That will be a shame,” Mayor Larry Jones said after no one seconded council member Gerri Offield’s motion. “We’re going to send a message to anyone who wants to come here that this city is not going to help them.”

Also during the meeting the council took the first step to roll back a controversial northeast Rockdale zoning decision made last year, okayed an ordinance restricting residency for convicted sex offenders and approved a new 4,000-square foot stalls building for Fair Park.

ATS lines

City Manager Kelvin Knauf said eightinch water and sewer lines had been proposed out FM 487 to ATS, a highlysought after heavy equipment training school which opened in June.

The MDD had pledged to provide funds for the water line and was also expected to pay for the sewer project, Knauf said.

ATS leases land from the Chamber of Commerce and council member Toby Johnson expressed concerns that the lease agreement committed the city to provide water and sewer to the site.

Johnson quizzed Chamber President Denice Doss about the lease wording. Doss said the wording was intended only to denote that the property, in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, would be served by the city and not Southwest Milam Water Supply Corporation.

Besides Offield and Johnson, other council members present were Allan Miller, Joyce Dalley and Willie Phillips. Councilman Doug Calame did not attend.

Zoning rollback

The council voted unanimously to ask the Planning & Zoning Commission to re-zone two areas from C-2 (commercial) back to R-1 (residential).

The areas are Ackerman Street (FM 487) from San Andres to Laura and Main Street (FM 908) from San Andres to the IOOF Cemetery.

Those were the two areas rezoned to commercial last year to accommodate an antique business after a lengthy and controversial process involving the council and P&Z board.

The item was placed on the agenda by east side council members Offield and Dalley who said they continue to field calls from area residents worried about possible commercial development.

“As long as its C2 someone could put in a liquor store or a honky tonk or whatever,” Offield said.

Sex offenders

Council members unanimously okayed an ordinance proposed by Police Chief Thomas Harris prohibiting convicted sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of a school or day care.

The ordinance would not remove any convicted sex offenders from their current residences but would prohibit one from moving into the designated areas.

The Texas Department of Public Safety’s website lists 39 convicted sex offenders living within the 76567 zip code.

New building

James Birkhead, president of the Rockdale Fair Association (RFA) said anticipated growth in the fair’s youth livestock division has made a new stalls building necessary by this October.

“We’re looking at a 49 percent increase in exhibitors,” he said.

The 40-by-100-foot open building will be constructed between the present stalls facility and the park’s main entrance road, he said.

As in the past, the building will be funded by the RFA, which will provide large amounts of volunteer labor, will be donated to the city and available for other park activities, he said.

Veterans Park

Council members discussed several problems at Veterans Memorial Park but tabled action pending a workshop session.

Trashed and filthy restrooms have become an object of concern with council members noting the difficulty of balancing restroom access for the public against opportunities for vandalism.

Jones said police have agreed to step up patrols.

Knauf said there has also been problems with persons parking on the grass.

A new asphalt parking lot is in the works and the idea of placing boulders to block vehicle access to portions of the park is also being considered.

In other business, the council:

• Held a public hearing on the 2010-11 budget, based on no tax increase. Budget details were in a Reporter story last week.

• Followed through on a pair of P&Z recommendations, revising the comprehensive master plan to eliminate some major thoroughfare requirements and designating a unique downtown zone, Class CA.

• Authorized the city manager to enter into an inter-local agreement with the Rockdale ISD for a School Resource Officer (policeman) as part of the 2010-11 budget.

• Formally closed out the city’s 2003 sewer plant project.

• Accepted change orders on three recently-paved streets and one in the process of being paved.

• Okayed Lockart, Atchley & Co. as city auditor for a five-year period.

• Endorsed the Milam County Appraisal District’s proposed 2011 budget.

• Set a Sept. 9 meeting to interview, and take any necessary action, prospective Municipal Development Board members.

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