WAXAHACHIE — Designed as a tool to drive investment into local communities, the Waxahachie City Council nominated locally-owned James Hardie Building Products for a Texas Enterprise Zone Project at its Monday night meeting.

All action items were passed unanimously by the three members present, as councilmembers Chuck Beatty and Mary Lou Shipley were absent — Beatty for a medical reason with prayers requested for his health before the meeting. Only three members are required to be present to meet quorum.

According to the James Hardie website, the company not only operates in the United States but in Australia and New Zealand. James Hardie is a fiber-cement business. It produces such products as lap siding, siding, vertical siding, boards, panels, cement boards and weather barriers.

“We are here to see if we can move forward to be considered for the Texas Enterprise Zone program. Our historical employment levels show we spend about $8-9 million on salaries. We have a significant amount of investment that is continuing to roll into the plant,” James Hardie Plant Manager Lloyd Carter said. “We are well positioned in Waxahachie, from both a customer base and a material base, to really see a big future here. Just recently the company bought the leased property at the end February. It is now our property. It is no longer a leased property.”

According to the Texas Wide Open for Business website, the Texas Enterprise Fund is a cash grant used as a financial incentive tool for projects that offer significant projected job creation and capital investment and where a single Texas site is competing with another viable out-of-state option. Since its inception in 2004, the Texas Enterprise Fund has awarded over 100 grants totaling more than $500 million across a broad range of industries and projects.

Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Singleton asked Carter what the advantage would be to be named as a Texas Enterprise Fund project. Carter replied that it would help in the area of employee retention.

STREET PROJECT

The council approved to award the bid for the Stadium Drive paving and utility reconstruction project to McMahon Contracting out of Grand Prairie. McMahon’s bid was $882,576.67. The project included the addition of an alternate bid of $71,624.20 for parking lot work on a lot owned by Waxahachie Independent School District. The city would not be responsible for the cost, but a bid was made in case the school district wanted to join in on the project since work is already scheduled in the area.

Director of Public Works Jeff Chambers explained to the council that the project includes some storm drainage work but not entire storm drainage system. He stated that several inlets in the system would be installed. Also, the work will include paving. The road surface will go from asphalt to concrete.

HERITAGE PRESERVATION COMMISSION REPORT

Director of Downtown Development Anita Brown gave the council a report on the activities of the Heritage Preservation Commission. The commission oversees the city’s heritage preservation ordinance. The ordinance has several tax incentives that are available owners of historic residential and non-residential properties.

Brown reported to the council that, for preservation month, the commission is distributing 626 historical coloring books to second graders in the Waxahachie ISD. The commission has received 200 applications for the historic property tax expectation this year. Of those 193 applications were approved for 25 percent tax incentive. Four properties were approved for the 50 percent tax incentive

Brown added the commission approved plans for 10 new townhomes to be built on Franklin and Monroe Streets and are currently updating the preservation ordinances.

RATE INCREASE

The council approved the negotiated settlement of the Atmos Energy rate request. Residential customers will see an increase of $2.04 per month. Commercial customers will see an increase of $6.27 per month.

WORK SESSION

Before the regular meeting, the council met in a workshop session to hear a presentation by Leslee Hardy of Actuarial Services for the Texas Municipal Retirement System. The item was only listed as a discussion item. The council took no action.

In other business the council,

• Approved a proclamation to name June 4 – July 4 as Crape Myrtle Month in the city.

• Approved a proclamation designating May as National Preservation Month.

• Approved a request from Charles Ray for a specific use permit to construct an accessory building that is no more than 700 square feet located at 119 Fairway Dr.

• Approved a preliminary plat and landscape plan of phase one of the Tilson Home Addition for one commercial lot. The lot is located at northwest corner of southbound Interstate Highway 35E and Compton Road.

• Approved to table the preliminary plat of Ridge Crossing for 183 residential lots and six common areas located on Ovilla Road.

• Approved the Waxahachie Community Development Corporation and the Robert W. Sokoll Water Treatment Plant financial reports for the year that ended on Sept. 30, 2016.

• Discussed the discharge of firearms in the city limits ordinance to allow an exception for approved gun ranges but took no action.

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Contact Andrew at abranca@waxahachietx.com or 469-517-1451. Follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AndrewBrancaWDL or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AndrewBrancaWNI.