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City Council Meeting Highlights for March 13, 2014

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.

L-R: Susan Garry, Barbara Piper, Jack Piper, Karen Marosko, Eldridge Tidwell, Susan Schmidt (September 12, 2013)

L-R: Susan Garry, Barbara Piper, Jack Piper, Karen Marosko, Eldridge Tidwell, Susan Schmidt
(September 12, 2013)

Coupland City Council Meeting Highlights – July 11, 2013

This photo is from the June 11 meeting. L-R is Susan Garry, Barbara Piper, Jack Piper, Karen Marosko, Susan Schmidt, and Eldridge Tidwell.

This photo is from the June 11 meeting. L-R is Susan Garry, Barbara Piper, Jack Piper, Karen Marosko, Susan Schmidt, and Eldridge Tidwell.

CORRECTION (JULY 20, 2013) – With regard to the decision to establish a committee to work on a budget and make recommendations to the City Council (the 7th paragraph below), the Open Meetings Act does not apply in this case because the committee is less than a quorum of the council and is advisory in nature. Their work will be presented to the City Council in a future meeting. City Council meeting notices are posted at least 72 hours in advance. At this time, notices are posted at Citizen’s National Bank, the Post Office, the Fire Station, and in this publication. 

The Coupland City Council held its second meeting on Thursday evening at the Coupland Fire Department meeting room. Present were Mayor Jack Piper and Aldermen Susan Garry, Barbara Piper, Karen Marosko, and Eldridge Tidwell. Susan Schmidt was away on family business. Here are the highlights:

After the Call to Order, the minutes of the first regular meeting, held on June 11, were approved.

A resolution to establish the fiscal year for the City was approved. The fiscal year will begin on October 1 and end on September 30 of the following year.

Linda Orrick, Senior Field Servies Representative of the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool, presented information and answered questions regarding a proposal to purchase coverage to protect the City from loss related to worker’s compensation claims (which includes elected and appointed officials), general liability, law enforcement liability, errors & omissions liability, auto liability, auto medical payments, public employee dishonesty, forgery or alteration, theft, disappearance & destruction, and computer fraud. The proposal was specifically designed to protect newly incorporated, small cities. After questions from the Aldermen and further discussion, a resolution to purchase the coverage was passed. There was a short recess to take care of some paperwork related to the transaction.

When the meeting resumed, Karen Marosko presented information related to a city franchise tax. Mayor Piper also shared some information. No action was taken at this time as research is ongoing.

The City Secretary (yours truly) presented information regarding the establishment of a city website and related components such as official email addresses and online folders for the purpose of sharing documents. The Aldermen passed a resolution authorizing the City Secretary to proceed.

There was a discussion regarding the development of an initial city budget and potential sources of revenue. A city sales tax proposal would be on the November election ballot. Al valorem tax rates must be set by mid-September. The Aldermen decided to form a committee to work on the budget and report back to the Council with their recommendations. Mayor Pro-tem Barbara Piper will convene the first meeting. The meetings will be open to the public and will be announced in advance.

The Aldermen approved a resolution authorizing the Mayor to purchase supplies and equipment for city business, not to exceed $300.

There was a discussion with regard to a resolution authorizing the City to reimburse elected and appointed officials for reasonable costs associated with attending the Texas Municipal League’s 2013 Newly Elected Officials’ Orientation  later this summer. Barbara Piper summarized the City’s current assets and liabilities and pointed out that the City is not allowed to engage in deficit spending. In short, the City could not afford to approve the resolution. The resolution was not approved. Individuals are free to attend at their own expense.

No one signed up to speak to the Council. The next meeting will be on Thursday, July 25 at the Coupland Fire Station at 7:00 PM. The meeting may be canceled if the agenda items can wait until the first meeting date in August.

Coupland City Council Meets for the First Time

The initial meeting of Coupland’s first city council was held on Tuesday, June 11 in the meeting room of the Coupland Volunteer Fire Department.

From L-R: Eldridge Tidwell, Susan Garry, Karen Marosko, Judy Hobbs, Jack Piper, Barbara Piper, Susan Schmidt

Just prior to the meeting, Judge Judy Schier Hobbs (Justice of the Peace, Williamson County Precinct 4) administered the oath of office to Susan Garry, who had been away on family business at the initial swearing in ceremony.

Susan Garry takes her oath of office.

Judge Hobbs said she was very happy to be able to be present to witness the calling to order of the first city council in Coupland. I asked her when was the last time that a city had incorporated in Williamson County. She said that it had been quite some time and that she believed that it was the City of Wier in the 1980’s.

Attendance by the public was light but this initial meeting was devoted primarily to administrative matters. The meeting was called to order at 7 PM.

Mayor Jack Piper calls the first meeting of the new city council to order.

Mayor Jack Piper calls the first meeting of the new city council to order.

The first order of business was a discussion of Open Meeting Rules. According to the Texas Attorney Generals website, “Effective January 1, 2006, elected and appointed public officials are required by a state law to receive training in Texas open government laws. The Office of the Attorney General offers free video training courses, which were developed in compliance with a mandate from the 79th Texas Legislature that the Attorney General establish the formal training necessary to ensure that all elected and appointed government officials have a good command of both open records and open meetings laws.”

Moving on to specific action items, the Aldermen appointed this reporter to serve as City Secretary on a volunteer basis. [Publisher’s Note: Unless explicitly stated to the contrary, all opinions and comments appearing on CouplandTimes.com are those of the publisher, contributors, or Coupland Times readers and should not be construed to represent the views or positions of the City of Coupland or any of its elected officials.]

In other matters, Barbara Piper was elected  to serve as Mayor Pro Tem. Karen Marosko and Susan Schmidt drew the long straws, figuratively speaking, and will serve two-year terms. The other Aldermen (Barbara Piper, Susan Garry, and Eldridge Tidwell) will serve one-year terms.


The Aldermen decided to abandon the Office of Marshall, currently held by Russell Schmidt. The City will enter into an inter-local agreement with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office to perform those duties.

The City will join the Texas Municipal League (TML), which provides a variety of services to cities in Texas. Membership is free for the first year. Action to purchase liability insurance through TML was tabled pending receipt of a written proposal.

The City will establish a Bank Depository Services Agreement with Citizens National Bank of Coupland. Action related to franchise tax revenue was tabled pending further research.

No citizens signed up for the Citizen Communication portion of the meeting. Future meetings of the City Council will be on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at 7 PM at the  Coupland Volunteer Fire Department, beginning with the next meeting on July 11. The meetings on the fourth Thursdays will be optional, the necessity of which will be decided upon at the first meeting of each month.

The meeting adjourned at 7:33 PM. No doubt this will go down in Coupland history as its shortest City Council meeting, a testament to good preparation and efficient conduct of the meeting itself.

Eventually, the City will probably have its own website. In the meantime, official notices from the City of Coupland will be posted in prominent public locations within city limits, in the Coupland Times, and in other public forums as appropriate.

Stewart Dale Spencer

Breaking News – Coupland Elects Its First City Council!

election_lgJust under one-half of the folks who voted for incorporation in November went to the polls to elect our first Mayor, Marshal, and Aldermen.* This is not surprising considering that the Mayor and Marshal positions were uncontested and that there were no controversial issues facing the six candidates for the five Aldermen positions. In their public statements to the community, all candidates stated that their motivation for running for office was their desire to help Coupland retain its character as a quiet farming and ranching community. This left voters to consider the candidates based on their qualifications and, presumably, their experiences with them in the community. Only one candidate, Karen Marosko, placed yard signs around town.

Unofficial results from Williamson County, with all precincts reporting in (both of them), show Jack Piper got 100% of the 41 votes for Mayor and Russell Schmidt got 100% of the 41 votes for Marshal.

As for the Aldermen, here are the results, in order, based on each candidate’s percentage of the total number of votes cast for Aldermen (206). The five persons getting the most votes will become the first Coupland City Council.

Susan Garry received 42 votes (20.39%)

Karen R. Marosko received 38 votes (18.45%)

Barbara Piper received 35 votes (16.99%)

Susan Schmidt received 34 votes (16.50%)

Eldridge Tidwell received 32 votes (15.53%)

Loretta Guenther Patschke received 25 votes (12.14%)

Click here for Williamson County Election Results.

Our new municipal servants will be sworn in after the election is certified. It has taken a lot of work to bring Coupland to this point in its development as a community. Much work remains to be done as the new council has its initial meetings and makes decisions that will affect the community for years to come. They will need your prayers and support.

The Coupland Times will keep you informed of developments in the on-going process of incorporation. I also anticipate that it will provide a forum for a discussion of various issues that may affect our community as we move into the future.

Stewart Dale Spencer

*It may not be one of the most pressing matters to be tackled by our first City Council but the term “alderman” has an interesting history and is set by state law to a certain degree. It remains to be seen how it will be adapted to meet modern usage. Alderman? Alderperson? Alderwoman?