Jeremy Hill Scott Cain Debra Powledge Chris Boedeker

Cleburne Sanitation Department worker Jeremy Hill, second from left, displays his Cleburne All Star certificate. From left are Personnel Director Debra Powledge, Hill, Mayor Scott Cain and Councilman Chris Boedeker.

The Cleburne City Council adopted new ordinances amending the city’s platting process during their Tuesday meeting.

Council members had little choice, the changes stemming from new laws set to take effect Sept. 1 as passed during the recent legislative session.

Shane Pace, director of community development, described the so-called shot clock bill as “large and ambiguous” and noted that the 86th Legislative Session produced numerous bills affecting municipal governments many of which “impede local control” and place “greater burdens on city resources.”

The difference being that cities previously had to act on plat, and plan, filings within 30 days but will now have to take action on both within 30 days. The council must now approve, approve with conditions or disapprove such filings within 30 days. Approval with conditions or disapproval requires the city to cite specific ordinance citations defining the deficiency.

“Upon resubmittal, the applicant is only required to correct the deficiencies detailed in the original approval with conditions or disapproval letter,” Pace said.

Cities may also no longer establish a deadline for resubmittals following approval with conditions or disapproval.

Following action by the filer on an approval with conditions or disapproval, the city must take action within 15 days or, at the request of the applicant, allow for a one-time 30 day extension.

The new laws also remove the requirement of public hearings for replats.

“[The new legislation] fundamentally changes the development process and the way cities do business regarding plats and related plans,” Pace said. “Cities across Texas have been working diligently to revise processes and procedures, amend ordinances and develop a reasonable plan of action in light of the new legislation.”

One change is that incomplete applications will no longer be accepted.

“This is only one of the unintended consequences of the bill,” Pace said. “[The bill] limits a city’s ability to work with the development community during the platting process. Prior to [the bill], if an applicant arrived at the front counter to submit an application and the applicant was missing a piece of information, staff would accept the application and work with the applicant to collect any missing documents during the review process. This will no longer be the practice.”

Should the city fail to act upon a plat within 30 days plats filed will automatically become approved.

The city has and will continue to take steps to alert developers of the changes, Pace said.

Mayor Scott Cain commended Pace and city staff for quickly and efficiently developing a game plan to ensure Cleburne complies with the new laws. Noting that a Houston state representative authored the bill, Cain took issue with state oversight.

“I’ve told Gov. Abbott, [state Rep. DeWayne Burns, R-Cleburne, and state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury,] that our state is diverse and one size doesn’t fit all. Don’t treat us like Houston.”

That said, Cain said parts of the bill are not without merit but added that Cleburne had been addressing the issue on a local level.

City Manager Steve Polasek agreed.

“The thing is, here’s the issue,” Polasek said. “And what they should’ve done was try to get some input from local cities instead of just saying, ‘Here it is.’

“It’s unfortunate [Texas cities] couldn’t have been part of the solution process.”

Cain went on to decry the burden of unfunded mandates and erosion of local control courtesy the state legislature.

“Seems like it becomes more difficult for us to do our job every time the legislature is in session,” Cain said. “But I guess we should just take a pat on the head, be good boys and do what Austin tells us. You know what rolls down hill from D.C. to Austin to cities so get the toilet paper.”

 

Water works

Council accepted Bar Constructors’ bid to replace the launder in Clarifier No. 2 at the Cleburne Water Treatment Plant for a cost not to exceed $381,000. That particular clarifier remains offline, Public Works Director Jeremy Hutt said. The launder, a device ringing the circumference of the clarifier, plays an important role in treatment of city water. The current launder is outdated and in need of replacement. Hutt, in answer to Councilman John Warren’s question, said the new launder should last for about 50 years.

Council members also approved Waste Connections request for a 4.5 percent rate adjustment for removal of waste from the transfer station to area landfills.

Of the adjustment, 1.5 percent is based on the consumer price index while the 3 percent represents a one-time amendment. Company officials said rising costs necessitated the request.

The city entered into a 10-year contract with the company in 2014. Since then they have only requested one increase, based on the consumer price index.

The increase will affect the city’s costs and the costs for businesses with commercial trash bins. Hutt said the increase will not affect residents.

 

Children are the future

Personnel director Debra Powledge presented the Cleburne All Star Award to sanitation department worker Jeremy Hill. 

The award goes to city employees who perform above the call of duties. Potential recipients may be nominated by fellow employees or city residents.

The mother of a young boy nominated Hill, Powledge said. 

She and her son were in their front yard when the trash truck came by. The woman said her son was fascinated by the truck and that Hill took time to show the boy how the truck works. 

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