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Council approves redesigned Burger King sign

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The Navasota City Council met in a regular session Monday, July 8, and approved a variance for a 25-foot monument sign for the Burger King to be constructed on Washington Avenue at Post Oak Street.

Developer Jim Kolkhorst had appeared before council June 10 requesting a variance to allow construction of a 35-foot freeway/pole sign on Washington Avenue 476 feet from the SH 6 right of way but city ordinance limits pole signs to 400 feet. At that meeting, council expressed concerns about the LED changeable pole sign and its impact on the neighboring residential area and Historic Overlay District. Kolkhorst said he was “willing to entertain some thoughts and suggestions.”

The new design features a 25-foot-high brick monument sign which Community Development Director Lupe Diosdado called a “hybrid.”

He said, “It’s sort of a hybrid because it does incorporate an LED Smart Sign as well. The fact that it does have a larger base at the bottom ties in with what a monument is supposed to look like.”

Diosdado continued, “Because of the visibility requirements that Mr. Kolkhorst wants to meet, it had to be elevated a lot taller. It has a lot of elements of different signs but overall, we felt it met the requirement of a monument sign. He is asking for a height variance - the maximum for a monument is 6 feet and he’s requesting 25.”

Councilman Grant Holt offered several visual references of existing signs on Washington that are 25 feet high such as Valero and Sterling Auto, and Dairy Queen at 25-28 feet.

Holt said, “Other than the Sterling sign, it’s probably going to be the cleanest sign on Washington.”

Kolkhorst told council the new restaurant will seat 75-80 customers and the sign’s LED lighting will not be bright as he finds bright signs “distracting.” There will be directional signs at the Post Oak exit pointing to Washington, away from Post Oak Street.

Approximately a half dozen residents from Post Oak Street were in attendance but no public comments for or against were offered.

Councilman Geoff Horn was not present at Monday’s meeting.

Universal Street demo

A property previously considered for demolition received a new order from city council Monday and will come down in 30 days. The structure at 508 Universal Street received a reprieve in 2014 when the heirs of the deceased owner requested to be allowed to make repairs, and later, to seek their own demolition bid.

According to Community Relations Specialist Kris Gruver that did not occur, and the owners failed to secure the house as well. Gruver provided a Code Compliance Inspection Report citing 10 violations, photos of unsafe and unsanitary conditions, septic issues, evidence of vagrancy and the house has had no utilities since 2011. In addition, it encroaches 4-feet on neighboring property.

Daughter of the deceased, DeElla Williams explained family issues, her issues dealing with the property and her concern that her utilities would be turned off if she failed to reimburse the city the $3,600 demolition costs. City Manager Brad Stafford clarified for Williams that the demolition charge is not billed to utilities and a payment plan can be worked out. City legal counsel Cary Bovey advised that a lien will be placed on the property and released when the $3,600 is paid.

Speaking in favor of the demolition was Rhonda Stringfellow who complied with a demolition on the neighboring property and plans to move a new home on that lot.

Addressing the encroachment, Stringfellow said, “Due to the variance, the zoning, we have to have that footage in order to put our home there. We’ve abided by all the rules the city has given and FEMA has imposed. We’re paying mortgage on our house and paying storage because we can’t have it delivered.”

Budget workshop

Stafford and Finance Director Lance Hall said staff continue to work on the proposed 2019-2020 budget.

Proposed expenses total $17,203,886 while proposed revenue totals $17,124,335 resulting in a $79,551 deficit. Stafford advised that the numbers don’t include property tax revenue. Hall said the Grimes Central Appraisal District will make those figures available in the next few weeks.

Items discussed included hiring additional staff, a bond to address the aging water mains and streets, the need for a new fire station, new police and fire vehicles as well as heavy equipment.

Stafford said, “We’re still not back to where we were 3-4 years ago but we’re getting better. The problem is the workload didn’t shrink. The workload increased but the employee count has remained the same.”

Other council action:

•Mayor Bert Miller read a Proclamation for Small Cities for Small Cities Month.

•Approved Resolution 655-19 authorizing the Economic Development Specialist as signatory for agreement documents with TxDOT for the Railroad Street Parking Lot and Drainage Project.

•Received a presentation on Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones. (See related article.)

•Approved consent agenda items that included the minutes and expenditures for the month of June and the second reading of Ordinance 892-19 rezoning six Agricultural/Open Space District properties to B-1, General Business District and R-3, High Density, Multi-dwelling Unit Residential District.

Staff reports:

•Council received a final report on the Sounds of Summer Concert Series from Marketing Coordinator Emily Gainey who reported average attendance at 225.

•Gainey reported 150-200 people participated in the Independence Daze Parade and 500-600 attended activities at the Navasota Center.

•Council introduced two new city employees: Sara Kemp, Administrative Assistant and Anita Walker, Custodian Laborer.

•City Manager Brad Stafford reported Sudden-link’s Broadcast TV Fee will increase by $1.50 for new residential and commercial video customers. There is no change for existing customers.

•Councilman Bernie Gessner reported the Planning and Zoning Commission discussed the impact of HB 2439 on ordinances related to design standards at its June 27 meeting and initiated rezoning Agricultural Open Space Districts in the south and southwest part of town.