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“Ruthie’s” corner gets new lease on life

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    Examiner photo by Connie Clements: Property owner Christopher Komarzec plans to keep Ruthie Henley’s 38-year-old barbecue pit as a monument to history.

Following a public hearing with two comments, the Navasota Planning and Zoning Commission approved a specific use permit application for the development of a food truck park on Navasota’s west side. The application was submitted by Christopher Komarzec for property located at 1102 W. Washington Avenue at Second Street, the former site of Ruthie’s Barbecue. According to Development Services Director Lupe Diosdado, the specific use permit was required because a food truck park is not a use listed for the B-1 General Business District.

Komarzec’s proposed plan includes spaces for up to three food trucks with the option of an air-conditioned indoor dining area or outdoors under a covered porch. Bathroom facilities will be available for customers.

Komarzec’s plan includes 11 parking spaces, three on the Washington Avenue side and the remaining eight off Second Street. Proposed hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Responding to commissioners’ inquiries, he explained his plans for lighting, signage, landscaping, and using Ruthie’s house as an event facility in the future.

Komarzec said, “We would like to put something together really nice so we can get something like Cousins of Maine, somebody that really can have a draw.”

Speaking during public comments were Victoria Maldonado and Pct. 3 Commissioner Barbara Henley Walker, daughter of Ruthie Henley.

Maldonado lives on N. Second Street and said she is “all for the food truck park” but is concerned about increased traffic from the proposed parking off Second Street coming up her dead end street.

Maldonado called Second Street an “alley” because of its narrow width which prompts drivers to use her circle driveway to turnaround or get stuck in her ditch trying to turn around.

According to Maldonado, the City worked on Second Street when she built her house there and now it’s wide enough for only one vehicle. While there is a Dead End Street sign in place, commissioners suggested a No Turnaround sign be added close to the parking area. Commissioner Walker called Komarzec “a hard-working man with great ideas,” and said, “These are the type of business people that we hope will come to Navasota and make an investment here.”

Walker said she understands Maldonado’s concerns because she used to live on that street and her aunt lives there now and suggested “us getting with the City and advocating for them to widen that street because the street used to be a little wider where she is.”

Walker pointed out there is no bar ditch by Komarzec’s property, and because of the ditches further up the street, “her neighbors have nowhere to park and sometimes they park on his property in order to navigate the narrowness of the street. I think it’s more of a City issue.”

Komarzec’s specific use permit request now goes to city council for final consideration.

Other business

Before adjourning, commissioners approved the Aug. 26 meeting minutes.

Present were commissioners Dia Copeland, James Harris, Carolyn Katkoski, Chairman Randy Peters, Patty Tokoly, Dr. John Walla, and Todd Wisner. Diosdado and Economic Development Specialist Rayna Willenbrink represented the City of Navasota.

P&Z meets the second and fourth Thursday at 6 p.m. in city council chambers at 200 E. McAlpine Street.