After much discussion during the briefing session, the Waxahachie City Council ultimately tabled a proposed ordinance for additional food safety measures at local establishments during the regular meeting Monday.
The item will be brought back for consideration at the March 20 session.
Building and Community Services Director Ryan Studdard told the council the ordinance would bring the city in line with the 2015 Texas Food Establishment Rules. These rules set standards for food safety, cooking, storage, and reflect developments in food law. The city currently operates under the 2006 regulations.
“The biggest push behind us doing this is to provide better customer service to our restaurants,” Studdard said. “Many of these restaurants have managers that go out and get training on the current 2015 TFER rules. When we are going out and enforcing 2006 rules it creates a lot of confusion for the managers that are out there.”
Studdard explained the update would allow the city to use the current form that the state created. This form has a checklist and scoring system that would be used for annual inspections and new establishments.
He noted the ordinance is not a requirement by the state, but it was an effort to help the public and to alleviate issues of being on the old rules. The state requires managers to get licenses under the 2015 set of regulations.
Mayor Pro Tem Mark Singleton stated he feels the update to the ordinance is unnecessary government overreach. He pointed out that businesses have to operate under the current standard without any problems or danger to public health.
“I hate to be a broken record. So today one side is saying the code that we are working under has somehow exposed our citizenry to unsafe and unsound foodservice conditions. The new code will miraculously save our citizenry. I come back, and I call BS,” Singleton said in the briefing session. “I don’t know how many times I have to say it but just for the sake of changing it means really nothing.”
Singleton added that the council needs to take a little bit more time to look at this ordinance to gauge the implications and how it could affect businesses.
Health Inspector Leila Cole advised the council to stay current with food safety because it is directly tied to public health.
“It is not about controlling food establishments. It is just making sure that they are safe for the public and that they (the operators) are educated,” Cole explained.
Mayor Kevin Strength told Singleton that this ordinance is something that did not have to be decided on Monday.
In other business the council,
• Named Waxahachie High School senior Soane Smith as the honorary council member for March.
• Presented proclamation-naming March as “March for Meals Awareness Month.” to Lisa Deese with Meals on Wheels of Johnson and Ellis Counties.
• Approved a request from Quickway Signs for a specific use permit for an electronic message sign for Waxahachie Family Dentistry. It would be located at 125 Park Place Boulevard. The council stipulated that the sign remain off from 10 p.m. – 6 a.m.
• Approved a request from Jeff Crannell with CCM Engineering for an amendment for phase one and two of the Camden Park subdivision to increase the maximum lot coverage in the single-family three base district from 35 to 50 percent by main buildings and accessory structures.
• Approved a request from Steve Miller for a zoning change from single family three to a planned development single family three with a concept plan-zoning district located at 415 W. Light Street.
• Approved a request from Chris Acker for a zoning change from single family three to a planned development single family three with a concept plan-zoning district located at 1201 Wyatt Street.
• Approved a request from Acker for a replat to create four lots.
• Approved the C-10 Chevy Truck Show and concert to be held Sept. 15.
• Approved the rate review mechanism tariff relating to Atmos Energy.