The Red Oak City Council approved the appointment of Robert E. Hager, attorney-at-law with Nichols, Jackson, Dillard, Hager & Smith, L.L.P., as city attorney at the Monday regular meeting.
The decision comes after the council voted to terminate the employment of Betsy Elam with Taylor, Olson, Adkins, Sralla & Elam, L.L.P., at a special meeting.
Human resources director Clifton Beck brought three potential firms to the council and recommended the hire of Nichols, Jackson, Dillard, Hager & Smith, L.L.P.
“I think they would be an asset to the city,” Beck said.
The firm also represents the city of Lancaster, the city of Ferris and the city of Palmer.
Hager said he would excuse himself from any current or future proceedings between Red Oak and any city he or the firm represents and encourage the cities to seek outside council in those situations.
“I will never represent both of you,” Hager said.
In other business, the council rejected an ordinance for a development plan and zoning change from agriculture to planned development zoning for lots 3, 4 and 8 in Turner Estates and from residential-2 to planned development for lot 9 in Turner Estates, property located behind the Greenery requested by Scott Green.
Green planned to use the property as an expansion of the Greenery.
“What we propose to do with the lots behind us is to change those to planned development,” Green said. “We see no adverse effects to the residences of Turner Estates.”
Green planned to provide a “park-like effect” by planting crape myrtles along the fencing he would construct around the expansion.
“We’re pretty full at the Greenery — we’re utilizing every square inch,” Green said, adding that the expansion would mean more business for the Greenery and an increased tax base for Red Oak.
As a resident of Turner Estates, Luis Petty spoke against the zoning change.
“We were here three years ago, June 14, 2004, to change the zoning on one of these lots to make sure nothing was put there except a home. We have no problem with people expanding their business on 77,” Petty said, saying that he and his neighbors do not want businesses encroaching into the residential area.
Petty presented a petition to the council with signatures from residents of Turner Estates opposed to the zoning change.
“I do feel that when a majority of people speak their opinion, you should look at it. I’ve been in the building business, I know the issues out there,” Petty said. “We’ve always had drainage issues out there. Any change would effect us.”
“I think they have a wonderful business,” councilman Scott Lindsey said of the Greenery. “But it’s in a residential area. It’s just the fact that it’s in a residential area that I have an issue with.”
“I have to agree with Scott. I have to ask myself if I would want it in my neighborhood. I wouldn’t,” councilman Eric Smith said. “I can see where they’re coming from. I can see what they’re saying about businesses encroaching on their neighborhood.”
“I agree — you’ve got a great business, but we have to protect the residential area,” councilman Andy Bell said.
“I’m in agreement with the rest of the council,” councilman Casey Hargrove said. “We have to respect the integrity of the subdivision.”
On a separate item, the council approved a resolution supporting alternative No. 1 alignment of the proposed Loop 9 project.
Alternative No. 1 runs just south of the Ellis/Dallas county line to the west of Interstate 35E, then curves north of the county line to the east of the Interstate 35E intersection.
“I cannot see any reason why we would support the path on the county line when we could shift it north,” mayor pro-tem Ben Goodwyn said.
“We would potentially give up something on 342,” Hargrove said of the commercial benefits of having Loop 9 run through the eastern portion of Ellis County. “As far as I’m concerned, Loop 9 is an urban legend. But it is a vital issue to homeowners in Hidden Creek. I think it would be prudent to adhere to our residents issues.”
The council approved the placement of speed bumps or traffic control devices along Clear Creek Drive leading up to the Red Oak Municipal Center.
“In that first block, they have over 20 kids,” Goodwyn said. “I think it’s important to slow things down.”
“Our No. 1 concern is safety. There’s pros and cons to everything we do,” Red Oak Fire Chief Eric Thompson said regarding the travel of emergency vehicles over the speed control devices.
The council discussed the possibility of this situation setting a precedent and other neighborhoods coming to the council requesting speed control devices. The council called the placement of the Municipal Center in a residential area as a unique situation.
“That makes the situation unique,” Hargrove said. “But as far has having speed bumps throughout the city — if this opens up a speed bump deluge, I don’t have a problem with that.”
Lindsey moved to approve the item, allowing staff to choose the device that best suits the city, with the council unanimously approving the item.
The council approved a motion to eliminate access to the Red Oak Municipal Center from Clear Creek Drive upon the completion of Lakeview Parkway extending to Red Oak Road.
“I don’t know why we put a Municipal Center in a residential area in the first place, but we’ve got it,” Goodwyn said. “I hope in the future we’ll put municipal buildings where they’re better suited.”
Lindsey suggested Clear Creek Drive provide emergency access for emergency vehicles.
“I feel like this other road will draw traffic anyway,” Bell said of Lakeview Parkway. “But I think it’s too early to support when we don’t know what’s coming.”
“I don’t have a problem with it, I just didn’t understand why we’re doing it at this point,” Lindsey said.
The motion was approved 4-1, with Bell dissenting.
In other business, the council:
Approved a 10 percent increase in salary for interim city manager Todd Fuller while he fulfills the position of interim city manager.
“Someone who takes on an interim position usually receives a salary increase by percent, usually 8, 10 or 12 percent,” Beck said, adding that if a new city manager is hired, Fuller would return to his normal payment schedule.
Approved an ordinance authorizing the issuance of “City of Red Oak, Texas, General Obligation Bonds, Series 2007,” in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $6,300,000. Approved an ordinance amending portions of the comprehensive zoning ordinance for the city of Red Oak. Approved a zoning change from agriculture to commercial-1 for .997 acres located at 125 Ovilla Road (next to Chicken Express) for a Chinese food restaurant. Rejected an item requesting issuing a letter of support for the early acquisition of properties from Hillwood properties by TxDOT for proposed Loop 9 project. Approved the termination of the Zyterra WiFi contract. Approved appointments to the Economic Development Board, Planning and Zoning Commission, ZBOA, Parks and Recreation Commission and Library Advisory Board. Approved overhead utility re-locations for Red Oak Road project. At the beginning of discussions of the project, the council initially approved relocations of utilities underground. Cost estimates for placing utilities underground have increased to over $1 million. Approved right-of-way/easement purchases for the Red Oak Road project. Approved an ordinance amending the fiscal year 2008 budget by transferring $676,226 from the sewer construction fund (Deer Creek) to the Dallas Water Line Project. Approved a resolution suspending the July 30, 2007, effective date of proposal by ATMOS Energy Corp., Mid-Tex Division to implement interim grip rate adjustments for gas utility investment in 2006. Approved an economic development agreement between the Red Oak Economic Development Corporation and Anthony Projects for the relocation of the southbound Interstate 35 exit ramp for Farm-to-Market 664. Approved a contract with TxDOT for the relocation of the southbound I-35 exit ramp for Farm to Market 664.