Monday, May 2, 2011

Distracted Much?

Even before Early Voting in the City elections commandeered the Council Room, it seems the stewardship of the City has been "distracted". Public Hearings and Board Meetings are getting cancelled at the last minute due to "procedural error" or (perhaps) political expediency. Oops, my bad.

Just prior to the April 7 meeting of the "Board of Adjustment" aka Wilmer City Council, a letter was circulated among the council members listing a number of Attorney General Opinions prohibiting a City Council from acting as a Zoning Board of Adjustment. With no prior notice, the meeting was cancelled and the Mayor called it a "procedural error". Further he stated that the research was out of date due to a new clause (Section 211.008g of the Local Government Code) that allows a Type A General Law Municipality city council to act as a zoning board of adjustment. As it turns out, the "procedural error" referred to by the Mayor was the mandate in the statute that the Council may only act as the Zoning Board of Adjustment after enacting an Ordinance naming themselves as such. Ouch, that's some procedural error totally ignoring the restrictions in the statute - and let's not forget the City Council had already met three times this year as a "Zoning Board of Adjustment" on February 3, March 3, and March 17.

As a side note: None of the quoted AG Opinions (JM1069, LO1992056, LO1997062) has been revised or overridden since the law was last changed in September 1997.

The P&Z Board Meeting of April 19 and Public Hearing on a Proposed Lighting Ordinance to amend the Zoning Ordinance didn't go much as planned for the City Administration either. Alice Holloway confirmed today that the Public Hearing on the Lighting Ordinance before the City Council planned for May 5 wasn't going to be on the agenda because the ordinance was being rewritten and updated at the request of Councilman Bell AND the P&Z Secretary had stated in the minutes that the motion had passed, causing her to schedule the May 5 Public Hearing before the City Council. Myself being the only member of the public attending the P&Z meeting other than the Chairman's spouse, I knew what had transpired as did the Secretary, Chairman and Mr. Vandygriff. Mayor Steele was waiting outside the community center smoking when I departed following the meeting, so he would have immediately known the outcome had he been interested.

How could the minutes of the P&Z meeting have been a factor in scheduling the Public Hearing before the City Council on the matter? How could the minutes of the meeting have been written before the meeting?

Although the City Administration turned off the display of the document upload time stamps, they just don't get that the information is there anyway. The document time stamps from my downloaded copy of the May 5 Public Hearing Notice on the Proposed Lighting Ordinance from the City of Wilmer's web site ( show 2:19PM April 7 five hours earlier than the beginning of the P&Z meeting at 7:00PM.


Editor Publisher said...

The Notice of the May 5 Public Hearing on the Proposed Lighting Ordinance was published in the Ellis County Press on April 21 - Thursday of the same week the P&Z Commission rejected the proposed ordinance for further study.

A call to the Ellis County Press revealed that the latest they accept submissions for publication on Thursday is 9AM on Tuesday.

So it's obvious the outcome of the P&Z meeting was ASSUMED by the City Administration and the notice of the Public Hearing before the council was published without first receiving a recommendation from P&Z. Wonder how much that little "procedural error" cost the taxpayers?

Editor Publisher said...

The May 5 City Council Meeting was another exercise in PROCEDURAL ERROR. Again, the City Council sought to act as a Zoning Board of Adjustment and override the Planning & Zoning Commission on the rezoning of 805 Mars Road to "General Commercial" from "Single Family". While the rezoning was DENIED, the council wasn't empowered to make that call and never has been! The City's Zoning Ordinance specifically PROHIBITS the City Council from interevening in zoning issues and mandates a board of adjustment be appointed. Period.

Just because the City didn't list the action as a "Zoning Board of Adjustment" meeting doesn't mitigate the fact that they sought to perform that function and purposefully violate their own ordinance - as well as state law and numerous AG opinions.
Has anyone read Chapter 71 of the Penal Code?