BC City Council holds workshop to discuss hot topics
The Bridge City Council had some big issues to discuss during a workshop meeting Tuesday evening.
After the initial items such as approving minutes from past meetings were over, the council got down to business.
The first topic of discussion was about the National Flood Insurance Program. City Manager, Jerry Jones, began the discussion by stating there are two things impacting the city. One is the rate maps and the other is the possible increase in flood insurance rates.
FEMA has released maps which were changed after Hurricane Ike.
According to Jones, the maps left about 80 percent of Bridge City in a flood zone.
“If the rate maps are adopted, I don’t think its’ something that we can go back and change,” Jones said of the need for an appeal of the maps. However, one obstacle to over come is the impending deadline of Dec. 24 to file the appeal.
In addition, the costs for a company to file the appeal and write a report will cost the city $85,000. The council is planning an emergency meeting in the near future to vote on whether to contract the Louisiana company to do the appeal.
But, the appeal is only the one of many steps to come. Council members along with the city manager will look to area cities to assist and join in the project so they may conduct and fund the necessary studies to challenge the maps and get them changed.
“It’s a regional issue, not just a Bridge City issue,” Jones said. “The more area we can get out of the flood zones the better off we will be.”
BC Mayor Kirk Roccaforte said he has been contacting congressmen and senators to see if they can assist and to take a second look at the data and for help doing a study to make the current data more accurate.
According to Kim Carroll, once the appeal is completed, the city will have more time to take further action,
Also on the agenda for discussion was a proposed Walmart Super Center.
It was standing room only at the Bridge City Planning and Zoning meeting in August at the city hall. During an Aug. 27 Planning and Zoning meeting, commissioners voted to recommend to the council a request from Roundbunch Enterprises, David Olson, for a zone change from a R-1, single family residential and R-2, low density residential district, to a C-3 third commercial district located on the property located on the corner of Ferry Drive and Meadowlawn. A large portion of the property is currently zoned commercial, C-3, and the request was to change the remaining to a C-3 to allow for a commercial venture.
Area citizens located near the proposed site went to the meetings to voice their opinions. Their comments included issues such as loss of property values, drainage issues, increased traffic and health hazards such as garbage and rodents. In the end, the council voted to not allow the commercial venture to continue.
However, at the Tuesday evening meeting, Robert Currie, a BC resident stated he thought a Super Center in the city could be a “good thing.” He added a Walmart employs up to 350 people with an average wage of $10 per hour.
“I know there will be a lot of emotions in the this, but I want everyone to think about the econmical impact,” Currie said.
Jones said the $20 million project could be valuable to the city. He also said the city could collect in property taxes an increase of more than $100,000 in addition to what is currently obtained. Plus there could be other additional tax revenue, such as sales taxes, which would allow the current homeowners taxes to not be raised.
Ron Smith, a Bridge City resident also commented on the proposed project. He asked if Walmart had considered building a new structure at their current location.
Dr. David Olson, who owns the land for the possible development, said he had spoke with the company officials and said they had looked at their current property, but it was “not big enough.”
Smith concluded by saying “The dollar shouldn’t drive your city, maybe neighborhoods and the citizens should.”
The issue will have to go before the Planning and Zoning Commission for approval before returning to the city council for final approval.
Mark Dunn, of Mark Dunn Advertising, was the next person on the agenda .He proposed an entrance sign on his property located at 230 Texas Avenue which is north of the La Quinta. The proposed 14 foot by 48 foot LED digital billboard will not only display local advertising to pay for the cost of the board and operating costs, but it will include messages from the city, the school district, traffic alerts and Amber Alerts. Not only would Dunn have access to the board’s operations, but so would city officials. That way in the event of an emergency, a message could immediately be posted.
The reason behind Dunn’s request to the council for a special permit to operate a board is because the city has not allowed a billboard placed within the city in more than 10 years.
“If we are going to put something up in the town that I grew up in, I want it to be nice,” Dunn said.
Dunn said he also would like to see in the rotation on the billboard, a message welcoming people passing to Bridge City.
Council members unamiously liked the idea and possibilities to help get important messages out to the citizens. Details of the agreement between Dunn and the city have to still be worked out. They could approve action on a renewable annual permit during a meeting in the near future.