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Council splits on development rebates

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

In an effort to encourage developers to move forward with additional phases in Lockhart’s residential communities, the Lockhart City Council has approved a two-year program that will offer incentives to develop infrastructure in those communities.

The proposed ordinance brought forward by City Ma

nager Vance Rodgers will offer a $2,000 per residence infrastructure reimbursement to developers, after infrastructure is put in place, once the homes receive certificates of occupancy.

“There isn’t much room left to build on utility-ready lots,” Rodgers said, noting that the Meadows of Clear Fork, Windridge and Summerside all have room for additional phases that could be put in place. “The key to this is we’re trying to get developers to build infrastructure in the subdivisions.”

Rodgers said on average, it costs a developer upwards of $12,000 to install water, wastewater, utilities, curbing and sidewalks for each home.”

Councilmember John Castillo resisted the idea, stating he was uncomfortable using taxpayer money to refund the developers for bringing in infrastructure. Mayor Pro Tem Angie Gonzales-Sanchez shared his concern, reminding her colleagues that developers know the cost of doing business before they decide to develop subdivisions in a particular area.

However, Rodgers countered, the remaining lots that were acquired recently by DR Horton which have been built on in the last year were sold to the builder at a discount, because the property owner was “ready to get rid of them.” He reminded the council that offering a small rebate to the developer would be encourage them to build more rooftops in the community.

Still, they argued, homes have been built without offering the incentive, so the pair questioned the need to move forward.

“[Those lots] sat dormant until those lots went for a premium, and I think this is an incentive,” Councilmember Jeffry Michelson said. “Developers are being enticed by cities.”

Mayor Lew White encouraged the council to approve the measure, noting he hoped to keep the development momentum gained in the last 18 months to continue moving forward, and reminding them that new businesses have come into the community and will draw employees to live nearby.

In the end, the council voted 3-2 to approve the measure. Councilmember Benny Hillburn was not present for the meeting.

In other business, the council considered an ordinance that will make changes to the current sewage disposal ordinance.

According to Rodgers, the change is necessary to protect the city’s wastewater treatment plants, and help to ensure they remain in compliance with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) standards.

Under the current ordinance, businesses are allowed to discharge 20,000 gallons daily before in-house testing (and possibly treatment) is required. Under the proposed change, that amount would be reduced to 10,000.

“We have to know what people are planning to put into our sewers and treatment plants, because one bad business could cost a lot of people,” Rodgers said. “Testing is necessary for businesses that could impact the pipe or treatment plants.”

In brief news:

The council voted to change the current Civil Service Ordinance to allow for “over-hiring” at lower levels, when promotional vacancies exist. Under the terms of Civil Service, the city must hire from within when an upper level position becomes available, which often leaves lower-ranks within the fire and police departments understaffed.

They spent an extended time hearing presentations from Finance Director Jeff Hinson regarding the upcoming budget process, and the City’s current investment reports.

The Lockhart City Council routinely meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Third Floor Council Chambers of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library Complex. The meetings are open to the public and are televised on Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10.

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