ITALY — The city of Italy conducted a public hearing Monday evening and approved a request by Joshua Trees for a zoning change from agricultural and single family 2 to commercial on land fronting U.S. Highway 77 from Harris Street south to the adobe fence at the city limits.

The property is for a sand and gravel business.

The Planning and Zoning board approved the request at a meeting held Dec. 6. There were no residents present at the council meeting to address the request.

A public hearing requested by Greg Fleck and Teen Challenge of South Texas was canceled. The request was to change zoning from single family 2 to a specific use permit for the former nursing home facility on Highway 77. The organization withdrew the request after residents packed council chambers at the planning and zoning public hearing Dec. 6.

The council also hosted a public hearing regarding an ad valorem taxation of tangible personal property in transit or “super freeport” goods.

City Secretary Cynthia Olguin explained that this taxation has been in effect since 1989 but new legislation requires taxing entities to approve this form of taxation or exempt out. Following a brief discussion, the council approved the ad valorem taxation.

Wholesale water

Prior to the public hearing, the city hosted a workshop featuring David Bailey, director of utilities for the city of Waxahachie and Gary Hendricks, PE, with Birkhoff, Hendricks & Conway to discuss the purchase of wholesale water from the city of Waxahachie.

Hendricks said water lines could run from the water treatment plant south of Waxahachie down the abandoned railroad right-of-way easement. He said lines for Buena Vista-Bethel Special Utilities District would veer off at one point. That line could also furnish water for that entity as well as for the city of Maypearl and Files Valley Water. Nash/Forreston Water Supply and Avalon Water Supply could also run off the line.

He said the city of Italy and South Ellis County Water Supply could conclude the line that would be 73,000 feet or 13 miles long.

He presented several proposals, including initial demands for 2009 as well as demands for 2020. He said 11 million gallons of water would be available for the line at maturity.

Cost for the wholesale water rates in 2010 range from $2.50 to $3.26, depending on consumption.

Hendrix said the city of Waxahachie is willing to pay initial outlay to bring the lines to the city at a projected cost of $9.9 million. That cost would, in turn, be charged back to the involved entities. He said the estimated cost would be about $4.44 cents per thousand gallons.

Mark Souder Jr., water superintendent, told the council that rates are $4.50 per thousand gallons of water. The $4.44, he explained, did not include maintenance and operation costs. Souder said he would try to work up numbers for the council that would include the total cost for the water once it reaches the city.

“If you need water, you need water,” Hendricks said. “Groundwater is not reliable. Surface water does not have many of the challenges groundwater has. Water is a valuable commodity.”

In other business, the council voted to give its nine votes for the Ellis County Appraisal board of directors to Johnny Johnson for 2008-2009.

An item to appoint two members to the Planning and Zoning Commission was tabled since the two expired members had not been contacted by the city. A split vote requested the city contact the two members whose terms have expired - Bill Sutherland and Vincente Guerrero. Jackson said the city received two applications from others. John Droll moved to table the item until the city contacted the pair. Greg Richards and Mark Souder Sr. voted to table the item as well. Dennis Perkins Jr. voted against tabling the item.

Souder also presented the council with a utility bill extension form that limits extensions for water payments to two times a year. The request form must be completed and turned in 48 hours before the disconnect date. Souder said he would look over the payment history before making a final decision.

Souder presented job descriptions for public works department to the council.

Departmental reports

Police Chief C.V. Johnson said the department responded to 65 calls to service and made seven arrests in November. The animal control department worked 59 hours.

Souder said the wastewater treatment plant may be up and running by the end of the week. Construction is near completion in the Dunlap Addition. He said they hope to be on Dilworth Street during the Christmas holidays. Bids for Phase III and Phase IV are to be opened Dec. 17. Phase III consists of lines laid from Dallas Street to Taylor Street and most of the downtown area. Phase IV covers the west end of town and a portion of Harris Street.

Susan Delephimne, court clerk, said the police department issued 240 citations in November. The code enforcement officer issued no citations last month.

Prior to adjournment John Droll, council member, said, “I appreciate the folks that came to the planning and zoning commission meeting. That’s how the system works.”

Mayor Frank Jackson said he wished everyone a merry Christmas and prosperous New Year.

Council member Rodney Guthrie was not present at the meeting.