By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cleveland City Council at the April 16 meeting looked at plans for two new subdivisions under consideration. The sites of both proposed subdivisions are located on the west side of the city, south of the SH 105 bypass in the vicinity of Fostoria Road and Morgan Cemetery Road.
The subdivisions being proposed are brick-and-stick master-planned communities that could add 1,363 new home sites to the area. The developers of a 321.5-acre tract off of Fostoria Road plan to divide it into a total of 1,123 lots. The second property is a 290-acre tract that will be finished in phases with the first 94 acres containing 240 lots.
Attorney Julianne Kugle, representing the developer of the 321.5-acre tract, asked council to consider an agreement delaying the expansion of the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction to include the development. Inclusion in the ETJ at this point in the project could impact its viability, Kugle said.
The developer of that project, who has not yet closed on the property, is looking into the possibility of creating a municipal utility district that would help pay for infrastructure such as roads, water, sewer and parks.
“The developers have talked to several national homebuilders. There is concern that the overlapping tax rate [from being within the city’s ETJ] would make it difficult to sell homes,” Kugle said.
Once the development is built out, the city could annex the development and the MUD would be dissolved, Kugle said.
“State law provides that such time that a city annexes a MUD, it dissolves within 90 days,” she said.
Fire service to the development would be provided by Montgomery County Emergency Services District #3, so Cleveland Fire Department would not be the primary agency responding to emergencies, Kugle said.
Preliminary plans also have land set aside for a future school campus for Cleveland ISD, she added.
Councilman Mike Penry questioned the value to the city of leaving the development outside of the city’s ETJ.
“I can understand the benefit to developers, but what is the city’s benefit?” he said.
According to Kugle, if the city waits until the property is full built-out, it would inherit a sizable development with an already-established infrastructure. The immediate benefit after that would be additional rooftops on the city’s tax roll.
A development agreement between the city and the developer could ensure that the homes in in the community are built to the city’s codes, Kugle said. At the end of the council meeting, the council met in executive session to discuss formalizing an agreement with SK Law, but the council took no action on the request at this time.
Pinewood Trails is the name being used for the 290-acre property located on Morgan Cemetery Road at Rutherford Road, west of Fostoria Road. Kelly Bosworth, an engineer with Pape-Dawson Engineers, representing LGI Homes, presented council with a preliminary plat for Section 1.
The developer has agreed to voluntarily annex the property inside the city’s ETJ. Council approved the preliminary plat and will review the final plat in the coming weeks.
According to Bosworth, LGI Homes typically develops projects for first-time home buyers. The price range for these homes is roughly $225,000 to $250,000. Pinewood Trails will be divided into 50-foot minimum width lots. Four acres will be set aside for a park and splashpad for residents.
In other development news, the city approved a request from BurgerWorks Cleveland Ltd., the owner of the Cleveland Whataburger, to abandon a portion of Mayo Street from US 59 to Lovett Street. The street, which is no longer being maintained, runs through property owned by BurgerWorks Cleveland Ltd.
Once the city files a quit claim deed to convey the easement to BurgerWorks Cleveland Ltd., plans will move forward on a new Whataburger restaurant, which will be built right next to the present location at 808 US 59 North Bypass. The current restaurant will continue to operate until the new one is built.
City council also agreed to terminate its long-standing contract with the grant-writing and planning firm of Public Management, Inc., which was previously located in Cleveland under local leadership until the business sold and relocated to Beltway 8 in Houston.
City Councilwoman Jennifer Bergman Harkness vociferously expressed her displeasure with the representation the city has received from Public Management, Inc. She begged council members to consider contracting another firm. For decades, the city has paid the firm $100 per month in retainer fees with the agreement that it would be kept apprised of eligible grants.
“They were supposed to keep us apprised of grants. They haven’t apprised us of a single grant in the three years since I’ve been on council,” Harkness said.
The city council agreed to go out for bids on ambulance services as its contract with Liberty County EMS is expiring in August. At the time the contract was approved, the city had no hospital open to serve citizens, so Liberty County EMS was handling a lot of a calls to transport patients to hospitals outside the county.
“With the growth of our community, we would like to go out for bids,” said City Manager Kelly McDonald, adding that Liberty County EMS has expressed its difficulty in servicing the area under the current terms of the contract.
McDonald said Mike Koen, director of Liberty County EMS, is expected to put together a presentation for council that will likely include an increase above the current annual payment of roughly $50,000.
“We just need to make sure our citizens are covered 24/7,” said McDonald.