County to appoint appeals board for permitting issues
The Orange County Commissioners’ Court decided to appoint an appeals board at their regular meeting on Monday afternoon after several weeks of deliberation.
The need for the board arose in regard to setting an appeals hearing against the county’s lawsuit for Parkwood Land Company. Joel Ardoin, code compliance officer for the county, said during his research he discovered an order from 1957 that addresses the current issue. He added it can be used as a template to appoint a board on permitting issues.
Ardoin suggested seven members could serve on the board. The commissioners decided on five members to serve- one from each county precinct and one at-large member.
The regulations from the 1957 order are also outdated and need updating.
County Judge Carl Thibodeaux asked Ardoin if any special qualifications are needed to serve on the board. Ardoin said members must be familiar in that field.
The court ruled it would take three weeks to set up the board and for commissioners to come up with names during that time span.
At the Sept. 30 commissioners’ court meeting the setting of an appeals hearing was delayed concerning a Vidor land developer, Sonny Stevenson, at the regular meeting of the Orange County Commissioners’ Court on Monday afternoon.
Thibodeaux wanted to delay voting on the measure because Jody Crump, Precinct 4 commissioner, was absent at Monday’s meeting and the judge wanted a full commissioners court to vote. Also, the property lies in Precicnt 4.
The agenda item was worded as setting an appeals hearing for Parkwood Land Company and/or appointing an appeals board to hear such appeals.
In the July 3, 2014 edition of The Record, it was reported a Vidor businessman was sued by Orange County for loading fill material into a flood way. Douglas Manning, assistant county attorney, told the Orange County Commissioners’ Court at their meeting the lawsuit is against developer Stevenson of Parkwood Land Company for creating a public nuisance. The lawsuit will be filed in the U.S. District Court of the eastern district of Texas.
Ardoin said FEMA told the county the fill material must be removed from the east bank of the Neches River at the Purple Heart Memorial Bridge on Interstate 10. Likewise, the county is suing to abate it. Ardoin said if the problem is not corrected, Orange County will be penalized by FEMA. The worst case scenario would be for county residents’ flood insurance costs to increase.
At the last commissioners’ court meeting on June 23, Precinct 4 Commissioner Jody Crump asked the court for the status of where Stevenson’s permit was in the process of approval or disapproval. Stevenson filed a request to the code compliance office on March 28, 2014. County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said no action was taken by the court, but he wanted a decision for Stevenson by the following week. Stevenson was informed this week his permit was denied.
In other county business, commissioners approved an order authorizing the issuance of $4 million Orange County Tax and Revenue Anticipation Notes, Series 2014, the same amount approved last year.
The county auditor, Mary Johnson, has previously certified the county is eligible to issue the notes and she recommends the issuance of the same.
Thibodeaux said it’s a bridge loan to cover the county’s end of year expenses and will be paid off in January, 2015. He described it like a revolving line of credit as at a retail store.
Dates were set for Orange County’s Online Auction utilizing Rene Bates Auctioneers, Inc.
The dates set are:
Nov. 12- Start date for online view only
Nov. 19- Date open for online bidding
Dec. 2 at 12 p.m.- Close date
The court approved the purchase of a ramp to be used at the loading door on the northwest corner of the Orange County Expo Center. The ramp will be used for event vendors and clients to load in and out.
The metal ramp is 21 inches in height.
Owen Burton, Precinct 2 commissioner, asked if it would be practical to pour a concrete ramp there. Mark Wimberley, operations and maintenance supervisor, answered the ramp is near handicapped parking spaces and the sidewalk would need to be reconfigured if a concrete ramp is poured.
John Banken, Precinct 3 commissioner, asked if the metal ramp would be sufficient or would they come before the court asking for the concrete ramp.
Wimberley said it would be sufficient.
Sabrina Grey, event coordinator for the Expo Center, said a double door at the location would better than the current 46-inch wide door currently being used. She added the double door could be paid for using Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax funds for building, fixtures and furniture.
Also related to the Expo Center, commissioners approved in closed executive session to approve to draw the grant fund portion of the retainage on the G&G construction contract and distribute those funds to the contractor.
Approved was releasing the funds and retaining the county’s portion. The turnaround time to received the retainage may be 21 days.
Thibodeaux said the county has a punch list with the contractor if there are any issues with the building. The contractor would come back to make the repairs. The retainage fee is five percent.
After a walk-through and everything is good, the retainage will be released within 30 days. The state’s portion is $153,054 and the county’s portion is $115,745.