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“Teeth” added to county nuisance, sewage orders

August 23, 2023 - 00:00
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At the Aug. 16, 2023, Regular Meeting of Grimes County Commissioners Court, commissioners approved the revisions and enforcement options for the Order of Abatement of Public Nuisances, Junk Vehicles and Litter and an update of the Order for On-Site Sewage Facilities (OSSF).

According to Commissioner Barbara Walker and County Attorney Jon C. Fultz, the policies were more than 20 years old and statutes have changed. The revised policies are considered easy to read, provide multiple opportunities to correct the problem, and add teeth to enforcement.

Kat Lee, 911/Environmental Coordinator, explained the step-by-step process for a Nuisance Abatement complaint. It begins with a contact letter, site visit to discuss violations and how to remedy them. Next steps include a Notice of Violation and option of a hearing in justice of the peace Court.

If Commissioners Court has to approve county funds for abatement of the problem, a lien can be placed on the property. The complaint can be assigned to a Constable for enforcement with fines ranging from $50 to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.

Moving on to OSSF, Lee said the updated Order affects the reporting of aerobic system maintenance and who is eligible to perform installation.

Lee said, “Only licensed TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) installers can install a system within Grimes County.”

The OSSF effective date is contingent upon TCEQ approval.

Stairs a hiccup to widening 90 Following the advice of County Attorney Jon C. Fultz, commissioners took no action on TxDOT’s request to remove the stairs from the right of way (ROW) on the west side of the Anderson Annex at 114 W. Buffington, pending results of the property survey.

According to Bryan Area Engineer James Robbins, the Texas Administrative Code prohibits encroachment into TxDOT ROW. Sixteen feet of the stairs is within the ROW and has to be removed to complete widening SH 90. TxDOT could have cut the stairs off at the 16-foot line without coming to the court.

Robbins said, “We didn’t want to just cut the stairs at the ROW line and leave stairs to nowhere. We’re offering to take them out, at no additional cost to the County, and regrade the surface and plant grass there. TxDOT has taken enough black eyes in Grimes County for taking property so we were trying to do a little good.”

Since the property is under contract, Fultz advised reviewing the survey to confirm that the stairs are on TxDOT ROW since removing the stairs is a significant change to the property as purchased by the purchaser.

Robbins confirmed the stairs are delaying the October completion date. Fauth noted that removal of the stairs won’t impact the west side exit and sidewalk which leads to the back parking lot.

Other court action:

•Approved ConsentAgenda Items which included the Treasurer’s List of Claims and Bills, payroll, budget amendments and/or line-item transfers.

•In separate votes, approved the following for Election Administrator Rachel Walker: (1) request to approve a postage stamp account with Pitney-Bowes for $25.98 per month which will drop to $7 per month when meter is paid in full; (2) list of Election Judges for two-year terms and Early Voting Ballot Board and Central Counting Station personnel for one-year terms, beginning Sept. 1, 2023; (3) Nov. 7, 2023, Order of Special Election for 14 constitutional amendments and named the county judge as signatory.

•Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent Andrea Ryan presented the quarterly interpretive report.

•Approved Pct. 1 Constable Dale Schaper’s request to purchase a new completely outfitted patrol vehicle for $59,150.25 through BuyBoard Purchasing Cooperative member Parkway Chevrolet following an accident.

•Approved Building Maintenance Manager Rodney Floyd’s request to place two IT items in the surplus auction.

•In separate votes, approved the following requests by GCSO Chief Deputy Martha Smith: (1) 2023-24 School Resource Agreements with Anderson, Iola and Navasota ISDs and authorized the county judge as signatory; (2) the purchase of a fuel pump for $12,609.40 and authorized the county auditor to make the necessary changes; (3) pay back $3,137.34 in grant funds to Montgomery County Auto Theft Task Force due to a resignation and authorize the county auditor to make the necessary changes; (4) an MOU with Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe for Deputy Pavlock and K-9 Unit to assist with patrol, with costs incurred reimbursed by Kinney County or federal funds.

•Grimes County Historical Commissioner president Mary Ann Waters announced GCHC will not pursue use of the old county clerk’s building.

•After a public hearing with no comments against, approved County Clerk Vanessa Burzynski’s 2023-24 Archive Plan for records preservation and digitalization.

•In separate votes, approved Road & Bridge Engineer Harry Walker’s requests: (1) a Special Road Use and Indemnity Agreement for MTX Materials on CR 304 and CR 359 in Pct. 4; (2) authorized going out for Request for Qualifications (RFQs) for on-call engineering services.

•Approved appointing Judge Fauth, Commissioner Barbara Walker and Plantersville Mayor Karen Hale to the BVCOG board of directors for three-year terms beginning Oct. 1, 2023.

•Took no action on ARPA expenditures or the Strategic Plan.

•Reconvening from Executive Session pursuant to Texas Government Code 551.072, Deliberation of Real Property, commissioners took no action on two purchase offers for the former Maintenance Building at 112 Main Street inAnderson, scheduling it for a future agenda. See related story page 1.

Meetings may be viewed in their entirety at https://grimescountytx.

Burn Ban: The burn ban remains in place for 90 days from its July 26 reinstatement unless rescinded or extended by commissioner court.

Public comments: (1) Brett Mize regarding contact person for sale of county property; (2) Jessica Tann and Joy Walkoviak regarding quality of life, safety and water table issues compromised by a flea market on CR 220, with Tann presenting seven signed petitions by other residents opposed to the flea market; (3) John Nicks spoke about speeders on FM 1774 and lack of enforcement/ ticketing by GCSO.