by A.C. Hall
After holding a public hearing and discussing the matter among themselves, the White Settlement City Council unanimously voted to make auto dealerships a non-permitted use in the city’s Mixed Use Overlay zoning district.
Building Official Kyle Reeves presented this item to the council, speaking about the reasoning behind it.
“Staff believes that with the businesses that we have coming in, with the Region 11 and Hawaiian Falls, the City of White Settlement has some valuable land and staff believes it would be better off putting the auto sales new and used in the non-permitted,” Reeves said. “That way the land could be used for other types of businesses that would better benefit the citizens of White Settlement.”
Council member Steve Ott brought up the lack of sales tax that is generated from auto dealerships. The city receives no tax from car sales, and only gets tax if a dealership has a service department and does service on cars.
Auto dealerships that already exist within the Mixed Use Overlay District in the city will not be affected by this new ruling. The only way it would impact existing businesses is if they close for over six months, at which point they wouldn’t be able to re-open.
The ruling doesn’t mean there won’t be any more auto dealerships in the city, as they can still be built in the city’s commercial corridor zoned areas. “There’s a process there,” Reeves said.
That process would see a potential auto dealership coming before the Planning and Zoning board, as well as before council for approval. These dealerships would also need to meet certain conditions, among them the need to be more than 1 mile away from other dealerships and being at least 2 acres in size.
ATMOS rate increase approved
Council voted unanimously to approve a ATMOS rate increase that will see the average customer’s bill going up by .74 cents a month. White Settlement is a member of the ATMOS Steering Committee, which negotiated a lower rate with ATMOS. Over 100 cities and municipalities are a part of the committee, which negotiates rate increases with ATMOS on behalf of the member cities.
“They did the legal battle we couldn’t afford to do,” Mayor Jerry Burns said.
Through the negotiations, the Steering Committee was able to save the member cities $11 million.
Conferences and conventions discussed
In a discussion that spanned a pre-meeting work session and the council meeting itself, members spoke at length about some government related conferences. First, council members shared information they learned last week at the Texas Municipal League conference in Austin. Topics ranged from bonds, collaboration, public finance, grants, and municipal apps for smart phones, but the main source of discussion came about retail recruitment.
Council member Danny Anderson headed up the conversation as he spoke about information he gained at the conference about bringing in businesses to White Settlement. He spoke about the need to start gathering detailed traffic and demographic information that can be used as something of a résumé when trying to lure new businesses to the city. Anderson also spoke about his belief that the city should send representatives to an upcoming retail conference in Dallas where retailers will attend.
“They’re looking for places to go, and this is a prime opportunity for us to go shop ourselves,” Anderson said.
Ways to go about gathering needed information on the city that could be presented to these retailers was discussed, as was the possibility of upgrading the city’s website to make it easier for businesses to find information there.
There was some talk about if this was a premature move since Hawaiian Falls and the Region 11 Service Center building haven’t opened yet, but most seemed to feel that it didn’t hurt to start recruiting businesses now. Economic Development Director Jim Ryan spoke about the interest businesses are showing in the city as White Settlement prepares for the high profile additions of Hawaiian Falls and Region 11.
“There’s people out there waiting like vultures,” Ryan said.
Later in the council meeting, council voted unanimously to approve staff member and council attendance to this upcoming Dallas conference. The price is $480 per person, and the motion contained language to limit how many staff members were allowed to go to just three.
Anderson also spoke about the possibility of attending an exposition in Seattle next month. “It’s an opportunity to talk to your senators, your congressmen, and your governors,” Anderson said.
He spoke about how this is the exposition where local cities were able to convince those in congress to keep the Community Development Block Grant program going. He also stated that attendance there helped get money to tend to flooding.
“You can actually get something done with this,” Anderson said.
The price for attendance is $595 per person, and that does not include airfare or hotel accommodations. The steep price tag had others on the council balking at the idea of attendance.
“I don’t know that the cost is gonna be cost effective for the city,” council member Elzie Clements said.
With little interest shown in attending, no motion was made on the matter.
Council unanimously approved an agreement between the city and Tarrant County Emergency Services. This will see the city paid $34,000 to provide fire assistance to the area past Silver Ridge to the west all the way to the Parker County Line. There was some confusion over language in the agreement, and while it was approved, it won’t be signed until the city receives clarification.
Brinda Rhodes was unanimously voted to fill a vacant place on the Board of Adjustments and Appeals. The term will serve through November 2015.
It was announced that Hawaiian Falls will have a heavy presence in the city’s festivities on Saturday, taking part in the Homecoming parade as well as the Settler’s Day Festival. The company will have a large booth at the festival and will feature hula dancers and hula dancing instruction for citizens.