City Council Delays Consideration, Enables Further Review of Proposed District

By George Slaughter

The Katy City Council Monday night voted to delay consideration of an ordinance that would create the 25K Morton Park and Silver Oaks Estates planned development district.

The council is expected to revisit the issue at its March 12 council meeting.

Monday’s vote came after an extended public hearing in which citizens, council members, and the attorney representing the developer expressed concerns about the proposed district.

LIA Engineering, the developer, submitted a request to the city, but it was rejected because the tract was 46 acres and not the minimum 100 acres. Other changes were requested involving fencing and screening, landscaping, lighting, lot sizes, recreational space, signage, and zoning.

The proposed district is approximately 46 acres of single-family residential and commercial use lots, with Morton Road on the south, the Katy Hockley Cut-Off road to the east, and the Heritage Park West subdivision to the north. The land to the east of the Katy Hockley Cut-Off Road is under City of Houston extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Rick Lawler, an attorney representing the developer, said changes to the plan have been made as requested during hearings before the city’s planning and zoning commission, which approved the plan February 13 with the changes.

Costello, Inc., the firm hired by the city to make recommendations for reducing future flooding problems, will also be asked to look at the proposal and make recommendations on water flow out of the area.

Renaming the Katy Heritage Museum

Council members wanted to rename the Katy Heritage Museum, 6002 George Bush Dr., in honor of the late former Mayor and City Administrator Johnny Nelson, who was a leader in the museum’s creation. Nelson, who served as mayor from 1983-1987 and as city administrator from 1994-2014, died January 28 at age 79.

The pathway to getting it done, however, took an unexpected turn.

Ward B Council Member Gary Jones had placed the item on the council’s February 12 meeting agenda. However, it was taken off the agenda without an apparent explanation to Jones or the other council members why it was done. In an unusual move that evening, the council voted to put the item on Monday’s agenda.

On Monday, the item was back on the agenda. Jones made the motion and the council unanimously voted to rename the museum. Mayor Chuck Brawner said the city has been speaking with Nelson’s family and others to coordinate an appropriate renaming ceremony. Brawner said he was looking forward to getting people together on the renaming issue.

The center itself is undergoing repairs after sustaining flood damage from Hurricane Harvey last August and is closed to the public.

Resolving Communication Issues

The council also voted February 12 to put another item on the agenda, namely, discussing communication issues between the administration and council members. Council Member-at-Large Steve Pierson expressed frustration Monday about being council members “left out of things we should have known about.”

The heritage museum renaming agenda item removal was an example of this. Another example occurred Monday with the council members’ agendas and packets. Typically, the city council agenda and supporting paperwork are sent to council members by the Thursday or Friday preceding a meeting.

For Monday night’s meeting, however, council members received their paperwork Monday morning due to an unexpected technology glitch.

Even with the typical three days to look at an issue, such as the planned development district, was not much time, Ward B Council Member Ray Boothe said. He was aware of the development district issue beforehand, he said, because he had attended the planning and zoning commission meeting.

City department heads have regular Wednesday meetings, and council members have begun receiving agendas for those meetings. In this way, council members can be aware of issues and can get necessary information to address public concerns.

“Communication has improved,” Jones said. “We need to know (of issues) before the citizens know.”

Addressing Other Action Items

In other action Monday, the council:

  • Extended, by five years, a special use permit to Northwest Believers Church, 5423 E. 5th St. to use a 2,070 square foot office space for church purposes.
  • Reviewed the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 first quarter investment report, bank statement, and check register through January 31.
  • Approved a street closure request from Memorial Lutheran Church, 5810 3rd St., for an outdoor Easter sunrise service to be held on April 1 on 3rd Street between Avenue C and Avenue D.
  • Accepted water and sanitary sewer improvements from the Reserve at Katy, section 5.
  • Adopted a resolution declaring certain property as surplus and authorizing it for sale or disposal. The property includes office chairs, two paper shredders, and a tractor, among other items.
  • Adopted a resolution rejecting any and all bids for emergency services for debris removal and disposal and authorizing the re-advertisement of bid solicitation. In an agenda request memo sent to the council, Public Works Director Elaine Lutringer said that only one bid was received, and two were required to select a primary and secondary contractor.
  • Passed an ordinance to prohibit parking on the south side of 10th Street from west of Avenue D to the end of the Whispering Lake subdivision, and on both sides of Katy West Drive, Cherokee Drive, and Apache Drive.