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Smith Hotel to provide secure guest parking

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After a public hearing Thursday, May 27, with no comments against, Planning and Zoning commissioners approved a conditional use permit application to allow development of a parking facility at Holland and Tenth Street. The application was submitted by P.A. Smith Hotel owner Steve Scheve for a 24-space parking lot designed for vehicle safety of hotel patrons. The motion was contingent upon city council approval of right of way closure along Tenth Street.

During the public hearing, Scheve told commissioners the sidewalks along Holland and Tenth Street will reflect the current aesthetics of downtown with streetlamps and pavers and the corner ramps will be compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Scheve said, “In order to bring people into downtown, we’re going to have to be able to provide a safe environment for their vehicles. I don’t think the City, or us, our tenants or guests want parking on the street all night. This is an effort on our part to provide some safe parking for our guests.”

The parking lot will also feature LED lights and be monitored through a security camera that will send information back to the hotel. While some of the details are still to be worked out, Scheve said the parking lot will have valet service to and from the hotel and controlled entry into the wrought-iron fenced in area. Twelve of the parking spaces will be under a cover and the lot will include spaces for RVs.

According to Scheve, he’s conferred with the alumni associations of a number of universities including Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, and Mississippi about booking their Texas A&M game weekend lodging at the P.A. Smith Hotel.

Scheve said, “We’re going to bring a lot of those people into town and we hope they spend a lot of money downtown at places, including ours, but also other places.”

Plat discussion goes down the drain

After a lengthy discussion flush with public comments about water runoff, commissioners approved a final plat and a subdivision agreement submitted by developer James Hassell. The plat was for the development of 70 lots in Phase III, Section 2 of the Pecan Lakes Estates Subdivision and the agreement addressed improvements pending completion.

Per the agreement, Hassell provided a cash escrow of $113,289.35, an amount equal to the cost of improvements for street lighting and electric infrastructure improvements (to be completed by Entergy), and the sanitary sewer lift station - all to be completed within 90 days.

Public comments by self-described activist Reverend Archie Sauls of the Coalition of Leaders dominated the remainder of the meeting. Sauls said he was speaking on behalf of property owners Brandi and Tammy Riker as well as Bobby, Brian, Monica, and Bennie Torres about an ongoing issue with standing water they attribute to the Phase III construction. Though not present at Thursday’s meeting, Brandi Riker has appeared before council twice stating that her property had handled rainwater runoff until construction began.

Sauls said, “We’re here to let the council know that there is a big issue with what’s going on out there and we ask that what he’s asking (Hassell), be held up until all drainage has been completed. Before you make a decision, I think you should make sure that other individuals who live in that area, that their property is not being affected by what’s going on.”

Development Services Director Lupe Diosdado clarified for commissioners that the ongoing dispute is related to Section 3, not the Section 2 agenda item. Section 3 will come before P&Z for approval at a later date.

Diosdado said, “This particular section doesn’t abut that property. This section is surrounded by property owned by Mr. Hassell.”

Tempers flared when a Torres family member accused Hassell of depositing dirt and concrete from the Railroad Street construction site onto the area in question. Hassell denied any knowledge of, or participation in, the alleged activity.

Commissioner James Harris attempted to bring comments to a close saying, “We’re here to accept the agreement that Mr. Hassell has provided, and then to accept or deny the plat that he’s submitted, and all of the other back and forth, we can’t do anything about that. You have to go somewhere else for that.”

Other business

Before adjourning, commissioners approved the minutes of the May 13 meeting.

Present were commissioners Dia Copeland, James Harris, Carolyn Katkoski, Chairman Randy Peters, Patty Tokoly, Dr. John Walla, and Todd Wisner. Diosdado represented the City of Navasota with Mayor Bert Miller serving as quarterly council liaison.

P&Z meets the second and fourth Thursday at 6 p.m. in city council chambers at 200 E. McAlpine Street. The schedule for P&Z meetings and meeting videos is available at