Council considers annexation

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

Plans to bring a proposed “high-end” residential development into the Lockhart city limits are on hold while the Lockhart City Council considers the consequences of annexing the property.
Local builder Jim Smith brought a voluntary annexation proposal to the council on Tuesday evening at the request of two property owner

s who hope to develop a 175-acre tract in Lockhart”s extraterritorial jurisdiction.
According to Smith, the property owners would like to bring the tract into the city limits, and then develop a subdivision comprised of lots of five acres or larger and site-built homes 3,000 square feet or more.
However, as a condition of the development, the property owners would like to have an adjacent tract of property annexed into the city limits, as well.
“Right now, the owner of the property is promising [to write] deed restrictions that require site-built homes on the adjacent property,” Smith said. “We haven”t seen those deed restrictions yet, and right now, there”s nothing stopping someone from going on to that property and putting in mobile homes.”
Smith approached the city with the request because the property owners feel that the unrestricted tract will have an adverse affect on their plans to develop the property.
“This is an amazing piece of property,” Smith said. “There are probably 30 oak trees out there that could be on the Texas Oak Registry [400 years old or more]. We”ve had people approach us about putting in assisted care facilities, townhouses and [other high-end housing]. But these aren”t the kind of people that are going to want to look down in the valley and see single-wides.”
Though most of the council expressed interest in and support for the proposal, City Planner Dan Gibson warned that there are both time and resource constraints on such an annexation.
Under state law, a city is limited as to how much property it can annex in a year, and current plans for annexation show the City of Lockhart within 30 acres of the annual limit. Additionally, involuntary annexation requires a series of public notices and public hearings, which Gibson said could push back the time frame on the development.
However, Smith assured the council that the property owners were willing to spend the time making sure the development was done to fit their plans, and those plans require the annexation.
“I think that we should table this issue until we have the chance to have some discussion on the other property,” said councilmember Lew White. “This is the kind of housing that we want to promote and that we really haven”t seen since [the early 80s].”
Councilmember Paul Gomez disagreed.
“The landowners purchased the land knowing what was on the other side of the fence, and I don”t think the council has anything to do about that,” Gomez said. He expressed concern that an involuntary annexation could be seen as the council serving the needs of a small portion of the population, specifically the owners that hope to develop the 175 acres.
“We have to think, though, if they”re willing to bring this property into the city and increase the tax base on that piece of property, we have to take that into consideration,” said Mayor James “Jimmy” Bertram.
The panel voted 4-1 to table the issue pending further discussion with Smith, Gibson and the owners of the properties in question. Gomez stood against the motion. Mayor Pro Tem Frank Estrada and Councilmember Kenny Roland were absent.
In other council business:
Lockhart Fire Chief Jerry Doyle approached the council with a request to apply for a Federal grant to help fund positions for three additional firefighters.
“The City has used the same sort of program for the police department for several years,” Doyle said. “We applied for this grant last year, but we didn”t get it.”
If the grant is approved, the Federal government would fund a portion of the salary and benefits for three additional firefighters for the next five years. The first year, the city would be responsible for only 10 percent of the total cost, or around $8,000.
City Manager Clovia English spoke in support of the proposal.
“With the growth of the city, we want the firemen to have some help, and we”d want to go ahead and go for it,” she said. Although she did not have specific figures available, she noted that the Lockhart Fire Department is at or below the suggested per capita ratio of firefighters to citizens. “They”ve been behind the eight-ball for a few years now.”
The council agreed to submit the grant proposal, which is due on or before June 30.
In brief council news:
Time Warner Cable Channel 10 experienced some technical difficulties early in the council meeting, and sound for the work session was not available. The problem was addressed during the break, and should be permanently corrected before the next council meeting. Council meetings and worksessions are televised free for Time Warner Cable customers.
Assistant City Manager Vance Rodgers approached the council with the current plans for development of a wetlands reclamation site on Plum Creek in connection with the construction of SH 130. Currently, Caldwell County, the City of Lockhart and the Texas Department of Transportation are negotiating the fine points of construction of the park, in a effort to determine the level of participation Lockhart and Caldwell County will offer.
The council voted on an ordinance to allow the development of garages, parking lots and recycling centers as business properties in certain areas.
The city will apply for a grant to assist with the cost of a Household Hazardous Chemicals Collection, which should be held later this summer.
The council rezoned a tract of property along Highway 183 to Commercial Heavy Business, in the hopes of making the property more attractive to business prospects.
The Lockhart City Council routinely meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Glosserman Room of Lockhart City Hall. They will begin budget talks this week with a budget workshop scheduled Saturday, June 24 at 8 a.m.

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