The March meeting of the Coupland City Council was a mixture of old and new business, including the establishment of a Planning and Zoning Committee. Susan Garry was unable to attend. Here are the highlights:
- As of February 28, the City’s bank balance was $37,364.
- The Subdivision Ordinance was amended to add an exemption when an owner is conveying land to family members. The amended ordinance is now styled Ordinance No. 2014-3-13-01. Here is the exact wording:
Section 7, Exemptions, in Ordinance No. 2013-9-22-01, Subdivision Ordinance of the City of Coupland, are amended as follows:
A. Paragraph (6) was added to read as follows:
A plat is not required when a person makes a conveyance of one or more tracts, each of which is two acres or more in area, to members of his or her immediate family for their personal use; provided, however that each daughter tract is either located on a public road or has access to such a road by a private easement. However, if the family member sells the land to a non-family member within two years, it will be presumed that the conveyance was not for personal use.
During the discussion, it was clarified that if a family member were to sell the land to a non-family member within two years, all applicable provisions of the subdivision ordinance would apply retroactively to the original conveyance. Also, Mayor Piper noted that the City Council considers amendments to existing ordinances four times per year. (See the story on the October 10, 2013 meeting of the City Council for details.)
- The legal firm with which the City had an agreement for the provision of legal services split up into two firms. Mayor Piper recommended that the City sign a new agreement with Barney Knight’s firm (Knight & Partners) because of the lower cost and Coupland’s previous experience with Mr. Knight. The new agreement was approved.
- The Mayor reminded the Aldermen that the new City sales tax of 1.25% will go into effect on April 1.
- The City Council set a tentative date for Saturday, May 17, for a city-wide clean up day. Details are pending but it may include a large dumpster for city residents to use. The Council hopes to be able to make an announcement in the next issue of the Coupland Herald.
- The Council also discussed the possibility of arranging for mowing along certain roads, including County Road 458 but not including the state roads that go through Coupland. Mayor Piper and Eldridge Tidwell will gather information for possible future action.
- There was a discussion about the ongoing re-platting process for the Prinz Estates. The final plat has not yet been approved. More importantly, Karen Marosko (who is also the Secretary of the Coupland Water Supply Corporation, which actually deals with waste water or sewage) read a letter from Martin Samuelson, the President of the CWSC, to Howard Prinz. The letter addressed the question of whether or not a future buyer of the Prinz Estates would be required to connect to the existing sewer system or would be allowed to install their own septic system. Mr. Samuelson said that according to the Texas Water Code, since the land is within 300 feet of the CWSC system the new owner can hook up to the existing system but that if the land is more than two acres, they may request a variance from the board of the CWSC to establish their own septic system. Either way, the land owner pays all the expenses that might be incurred. [Editor’s Note: The details of this letter are important enough that it will be posted in a separate Coupland Times story.]
- A potentially major development for the future of Coupland was the adoption of Resolution No. 2014-2-13-02: “A Planning and Zoning Committee is to be formed for the purpose of examining zoning possibilities in Coupland. The committee will consist of Cole Barton, Sarah Torluemke, Loretta Patschke, Tim Worthy, Carolyn Haverland, Peter Wabbel, and Tanya Suchomel. The Mayor will convene the initial meeting.” Mayor Piper said he had previously contacted these citizens and that they had agreed to serve on the committee. He said that they will elect officers, look at what other cities are doing, get input from the public, and make recommendations to the City Council. Concerns were raised by various Council members, and one of the meeting attendees, about things like pig farms, waste management facilities, adult book stores, hazardous waste dumps, sludge farms, or a feral hog slaughterhouse being established within the city limits in the absence of zoning regulations. One Council member pointed out that there were state and county regulations that would apply in some cases. Possible zoning categories such as residential, commercial, mixed, and agricultural were mentioned at various times. One of the potential members of the committee, Sarah Torluemke, offered this explanation of how zoning would work in Coupland: “From my perception, it’s not so much to dictate to people what they can do. It is to offer a mechanism for guiding the growth in Coupland.” In commenting about the opposition to zoning previously expressed by Jim Huntington, Torluemke said, “From his perspective, he’s afraid that it will change Coupland and in my head the purpose for having some kind of zoning is to keep Coupland from changing in ways that we don’t want.” Alderman Schmidt said that in the past, Coupland was a more cohesive community and that community standards were different. She said, “Unfortunately, that’s not the case here any more . . . ’cause we’ve got so many rental properties and we’ve got other people moving in . . . The way people are now, today, you can’t rely on them to want to do the right thing . . . They want to do what’s right for them but not what’s right for the community.” How zoning might be enforced was also a subject of discussion as were the granting of variances. The resolution passed on a vote of three in favor of the resolution (Barbara Piper, Susan Schmidt, and Eldridge Tidwell ) and one opposed (Karen Marosko). Mayor Piper noted that the meetings of this committee will be subject to the provisions of the Open Meetings Act and will be publicized.
- During the citizens and events recognition portion of the meeting, Susan Schmidt praised the speaker at the general meeting of the Coupland Civic Organization, Dr. Dana Boehm, who talked about her travels to Africa and her efforts to promote sustainable living concepts.
- No citizens signed up to address the Council.
The next meeting is scheduled for April 10.