Saturday January 14, 2017
No wonder North Texas has the reputation it does for volatile weather!
Wow, from 16 degrees to back up in the 70’s in a matter of just a few days. All throughout our Town services stayed at peak operating performance levels.
Thanks to Jane Lentz for the photo taken a few days ago as a reminder of just how cold it was.
All council members were in attendance except council member Ivan Hughes who was off awaiting the arrival of a new grandbaby.
In the first action on the Regular agenda for Tuesday evening, January 10, the council voted 5-2 to change the existing Addison Housing Policy.
Council members Bruce Arfsten, Paul Walden, Jim Duffy and Al Angell voted for the change and council members Dale Wilcox and Todd Meier voted against the change.
The consequences, reason and sense of urgency for this change may become evident fairly quickly, as the P&Z Commission agenda for next week’s Tuesday January 17 meeting includes a request from apartment developers AMLI to rezone commercial property for more apartments.
The P&Z meeting begins at 6:00 pm at Town Hall and there will be a Public Hearing, giving you an opportunity to voice your opinion about whether or not you think we need to add more apartments to our already well over 7,500, with more coming, and increase our 85+% residential rental units in Addison.
I encourage you to watch the video to fully appreciate the efforts put forth to retain our current housing policy, and view the unreasoned insistence and forced change.
Our council evening began early with an executive session presented by City Attorney Brenda McDonald to brief council on all of the current pending legal issues.
We covered a matter related to 4800 Airport Parkway, release of the TMRS retiree report, complaint by a former employee, the ponds or lakes at Vitruvian Park and Farmers Branch Creek, Town of Addison v. Landmark Structures, Urban Green Energy cause number DC-15-0761, 44th Judicial Court, Scott Richardson v. Allan Scheick and County of Dallas, and an update on a potential development in the Southeast quadrant of Addison airport.
Our work session covered a very important presentation on the development of our new Asset Management Plan.
Director of Infrastructure and Development Services Lisa Pyles gave an exciting presentation of the plan to review all of our physical Addison assets with the recognition that we have limited resources, aging infrastructure, high service expectations, a desire to continue to encourage growth and a changing municipal workforce.
This likely 2-year comprehensive process will initially cost about $250,000 and will include not only an inventory of our current assets and an assessment of their current status, but also a determination of life cycle costs and a forward thinking view so that we can develop long range asset management plans.
It is really an excellent project that folds in well with our Infrastructure Investment Fund and recognition that our Town is now 64 plus years old.
All of our Public Comment speakers shared their thoughts about the stop signs at the intersection of Beltway and Les Lacs.
Our Consent Agenda included approval of the minutes of our December 13 meeting, an amendment to our agreement with City Manager Wes Pierson, and an interlocal mutual aid agreement among local governments and the public works emergency response team.
After the extensive and contentious change of our Housing policy, the council approved a contract with Flowline Construction for the construction of the Vitruvian Phase 5 public infrastructure in the amount of $3,823,868.
The council approved new permits for the Starbucks at the corner of Belt Line and Midway to include an outdoor patio and permit the sale of beer and wine for on site consumption. The Starbucks will also be removing the entrance to their site off of Belt Line Road.
Skinny Pizza, 5026 Addison Circle, will finally be opening in Addison Circle on January 23 as they received final approval for their Special Use permit for the sale of beer and wine for off premises consumption, and the use of portions of the public sidewalk in front of their business for an outdoor patio.
Our final agenda item of the evening was the approval of a policy that requires the City Manager to communicate with the council about all separation and severance agreements between the Town and Addison employees.
This policy was put in place to avoid a reoccurrence of past city management practices that failed to inform the council of these sometimes very large expenditures.
We adjourned for the evening at about 10:30 pm.
The Council Finance Committee representatives, mayor Todd Meier and council member Dale Wilcox, met on Wednesday afternoon with City Manager Wes Pierson, Deputy City Manager Cheryl Delaney and new CFO Olivia Riley for our monthly meeting at Town Hall. Council member Ivan Hughes was absent.
We reviewed newly revised financial policies to be presented to council soon, a new Municipal Court collections process and recognition that we have obtained the first star award for Financial Transparency from the State Comptroller’s office.
Council Member activities
On Monday, January 9, Council member Bruce Arfsten attended the First Monday of the month Economic Development luncheon at Sanabels restaurant at 15107 Addison Road.
On Tuesday evening for our Regular Council meeting, Executive Session and work session, all council members were present except Ivan Hughes.
Council members Bruce Arfsten, Paul Walden, Jim Duffy and Al Angell joined me at the Addison Business Association luncheon on Wednesday.
Q&A with the mayor
Q: Why was the Addison Housing policy, that had been developed with significant input from the community, changed?
A: An excellent question that I simply may not be able to answer. As noted above I voted against the change. I am happy to share with you some of my reasoning. First, as noted I thought the process was flawed as there was no formal opportunity for community input.
When the policy was originally developed we spent 18 months with community meetings and input from a variety of professionals as well as numerous open work session and council meetings to craft what was unanimously adopted by the council.
This time the council refused to pause for formal community input in spite of the fact that 100% of the emails, phone calls and conversations in the community reflected a real opposition to any change in the policy.
In addition, there was zero input from any outside professionals. As you can tell from the split vote there was a clear difference of opinion, and the majority on the council refused to debate or engage in any sort of deliberative process.
I believe the process was flawed and that the changed policy does not reflect the overwhelming majority of opinion in Addison that we do not want to do anything to make it easier to add more apartments.
As to why the policy was changed? If the linked video to the meeting and discussion does not answer your question, then we are similarly situated.
I do not know why we changed a policy that reflected the strongly held community opinion and was in the best interests of Addison. My fellow council members that voted for this change failed to articulate their reasons during the meeting.
Time may very soon reveal their true motivations.
Early Tuesday morning City Manager Wes Pierson and I helped host the monthly Metroplex Mayors Association meeting at our Marriott Quorum Hotel.
Our speaker was professor of Earth Sciences Brian Stump from SMU who spoke with us about “Seismic Activity in North Texas”.
His very interesting presentation reviewed the unprecedented increase of earthquakes in North Texas since 2008 and the possible correlation with oil exploration and extraction activities.
The Professor shared that the current research suggests that the activity is correlated not with the extraction part of the fracking process, but rather with the injection of the residual wastewater back into the subsurface.
Since oil prices have dropped so dramatically in the last few years, making this expensive recovery process less attractive, the incidence of earthquakes in North Texas has dropped precipitously.
On Monday council colleague Bruce Arfsten joined a few hearty and adventurous folks at Sanabels, 15107 Addison Road, for some lively Middle Eastern food featuring Lebanese specialties.
The relocated First Monday of the Month Economic Development luncheon was a small group but, as you can see, it sure looks like they had fun!
The next First Monday of the Month Economic Development luncheon with the mayor and council members will be on Monday, February 6, at an Addison restaurant to be determined.
City Manager Wes Pierson was the guest speaker at the Addison Business Association luncheon at Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas on Wednesday, January 11.
Council members Bruce Arfsten, Al Angell, Paul Walden, and Jim Duffy joined me in showing our support for Wes as he delivered his excellent presentation of his thoughts on his first year as our City Manager. He reviewed several of our important accomplishments for 2016, the Road Ahead and our aspiration to be “The Benchmark for all Texas Cities”.
During this same meeting the ABA recognized our Streets Superintendent Juan Gutierrez as our Employee of the Quarter.
Just a quick reminder that February 1 is the deadline for applications for the next Citizens Academy. The program begins on February 24. Check out this link for more information and the application.
Our 2017 is off to a very interesting start. I hope you will continue to pay attention and offer your input as the next few weeks may bring big changes to Addison.
See you soon,
Headline photo of Rio Mambo’s frozen fountain by Jane Lentz.