Council Denies Planned Development District Application

By George Slaughter

The Katy City Council, citing residential/commercial mix concerns, denied an application to create the 25K Morton Park and Silver Park Estates Planned Development District Monday.

Developers intended the site, approximately 46 acres, for both single-family residential and commercial use.

The proposed district is bordered by Heritage Park West subdivision to the north, Morton Road on the south, and Katy Hockley Cutoff Road to the east. The land east of the Katy Hockley Cut-Off Road is under City of Houston extraterritorial jurisdiction.

After a public hearing in which opponents and proponents had their say, Ward A Council Member Frank Carroll said his objection to the plan was “not a reflection of the fine work” the developers did in refining the plan to city requests, but was more on the principle of taking residential areas and rezoning them as commercial areas.

Carroll said that before he joined the council in 2018, a vote was taken to rezone Avenue D as a commercial area to Franz Road.

“I think we’re now buying up property on Avenue D because we made it a commercial zone and we don’t like that businesses are going in there and taking away from downtown,” Carroll said. “I have a sneaking suspicion that we’re repeating the same errors of the past with this project, turning Morton Road into a commercial district. When you turn the spigot on (rezoning a residential area as commercial), you cannot turn it back off.”

Carroll said he wants to see residential areas remain residential and commercials areas remain commercial.

The council’s vote was unanimous. Ward B Council Member Jenifer Stockdick was not at the meeting.

The city’s planning and zoning commission approved the project by a 6-3 vote last month. In a memo to the council, City Planner Anas Garfaoui wrote that the three who voted against the plan “wanted to add sidewalks along Morton Road and Katy Hockley Cut-Off and to have the northern 2.1-acre commercial reserve converted into residential lots.”

Garfaoui wrote that city staff reached out to the developer’s representatives (LJA) about showing an alternative exhibit that converts the 2.1-acre commercial pad into residential, but as of last week, the developer’s representatives said that the developer does not want to make the change.

Monday’s council review was its second on the plan. The first time around, the council held a public hearing at its February 29, 2018 meeting, and council members moved to continue the public hearing at the March 12, 2018 meeting. At that meeting, the developer submitted a request to city staff to delay submission of the plan until a full drainage study was completed.

LJA Engineering completed its study in July of this year. Costello Engineering provided a no objection letter in August to city staff.

Council Votes to Acquire More Green Space

The council Monday authorized Mayor Bill Hastings to purchase approximately 1.16 acres of land, at 907 Avenue D, for $595,000. The land is expected to be used for green space for additional park use.

The council authorized City Administrator Byron Hebert to negotiate the purchase of the land at its November 21 meeting.

Council Adopts Code of Ethics

The council Monday adopted a code of ethics for top city officials, including the mayor, council members, and appointed members of boards, commissions, or committees operating under council direction. Included among those standards is a requirement that those officials both disclose and abstain from voting on issues in which they have a financial interest.

The code does not apply to city employees, who follow already-established city personnel policies.

City staff has worked on the policy for the past several months with direction and feedback of council members. The code was reviewed by the city legal department before it was presented for council consideration Monday.

Ward B Council Member Durran Dowdle has been a leader on this project. In an interview before the meeting, Dowdle said the code was an attempt by the city to be transparent in its dealings, and he cited other cities that have developed similar codes. He said corporations also have such policies.

“The city is a $32 million business,” Dowdle said.

Dowdle said future councils would review and update the code to meet the needs of those times.

Carroll praised Dowdle’s efforts during the meeting, saying he hoped that campaign finance reform would be a part of a revised code in the future. Carroll said the code approved Monday was a good start.

Other Actions Taken

In other action Monday, the council:

  • Observed a Keep Katy Beautiful board presentation recognizing the 2019 Adopt-a-Wreath participants.
  • Review the city’s bank statement and check register through October 31.
  • Approved the Annabelle’s Benefit 5K Run, set for April 4.
  • Approved a $10,000 dues payment to the Katy Area Chamber of Commerce.
  • Approved a $10,000 hotel occupancy tax grant application for the city of Katy for Texas Sports Radio Network for radio and TV/Internet advertising.
  • Approved a $12,000 hotel occupancy tax grant application for the City of Katy for online video streaming on Texan Live.
  • Approved a $60,000 hotel occupancy tax grant application for the Ricky Deci Foundation 2020 RD761 Junior International Team and Men’s and Women’s International Gymnastics Competition, set for January 14-19.
  • Approved a $25,000 hotel occupancy tax grant application for the Ainsley’s Angels of America 2020 Katy Half Marathon, set for February 8 at Katy Mills Mall.
  • Approved a $25,000 hotel occupancy tax grant application for the Ainsley’s Angels of America-Typhoon Texas Kids Triathlon, set for May 3 at Typhoon Texas.
  • Approved a $150,000 hotel occupancy tax grant application for the 2020 Southland Conference Basketball Tournament, set for March 11-15 at the Leonard E. Merrell Center.
  • Approved a $120,000 hotel occupancy tax grant application for the Wild West Brewfest, set for April 16-18, at Katy Mills Mall. Amount requested is $120,000.
  • Accepted drainage, paving, and water improvements for the Field House Road.
  • Approved a three-month preliminary plat extension for the Falls at Green Meadows.
  • Tagged, at Carroll’s request, a vote to cancel contracts awarded to EarthFirst Landscaping, LLC, for grounds maintenance and mowing and the authorization of re-advertisement of bid solicitation. A company official said EarthFirst officials hoped to clarify issues between the company and the city, but efforts to arrange a meeting have so far been unsuccessful. Carroll said this was the first he had heard of this issue and wanted to see whether such discussions could be held. The issue will be on the next council agenda.
  • Rejected all bids for the construction of the Katy City Hall Plaza hardscape and landscape project, and authorizing the re-advertisement of bid solicitation
  • Authorized Hastings to sign a fire training facility use agreement with the Fort Bend County Firefighters Association. The facility is located at 260 Clay St. in Richmond.
  • Authorized Hastings to sign a temporary tenant lease agreement for the Katy Police Department substation at Katy Mills Mall.
  • Authorized Hastings to sign an agreement with PM AM Corporation for web-based management platform services.
  • Authorized Hastings to sign an agreement with TLC Office Systems Corporation for equipment for the Katy Police Department.
  • Authorized the Katy Development Authority to use up to $297,995 in METRO funds for expanding Franz Road from Bartlett Road to Cane Island Parkway.
  • Added a new project, the creation of an underground ductbank along the Katy Boardwalk District, to be addressed by the Katy Development Authority.
  • Authorized the Katy Development Authority to sign a facility extension agreement with CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric, LLC, as a project for the Katy Boardwalk District.
  • Authorized Hastings to sign the first amendment to the master development agreement between the Katy Development Authority, the city, and the Katy Boardwalk Hotel.
  • Adopted a policy for electronic system, internet use, and social media use by city employees.
  • Increased the groundwater reduction user fees for West Harris County Regional Water Authority to $1.83 per 1,000 gallons of water use, effective January 1. In a memorandum urging the increase, Finance Director Andrew Vasquez said the city draws from two independent sources—the West Harris County Water Authority and the Bluebonnet Groundwater Conservation District. Vasquez wrote that the West Harris County Water Authority notified that the city that it was implementing a rate increase of 25 cents per thousand gallons of water. “Because the city has two sources and the average of both water service providers, city staff calculates that only 32% of the 25-cent rate increase, or 0.08 cents is required to pass on to the city residents,” Vasquez wrote.
  • Adopted a second budget amendment to the original budget for fiscal year 2018-19.
  • Added no parking signs to the south side of Poplar Creek Lane, as requested by the Woodcreek Reserve Homeowners Association.