The Glen Rose city council, gathering with just enough councilors to form a quorum Monday night, approved several items of business including a request to rezone 102 acres at the intersection of US Hwy. 67 East and CR 303.
Opening the meeting with a public hearing in which no citizens offered comment, the council unanimously approved a request from James W. Gosdin to rezone an addition to the city of Glen Rose near the Squaw Valley Golf Course.
The rezoning issue heard before the council and Planning & Zoning Committee will now change the property from its former R-1 Single Family Residential to PD Planned Development to accommodate a proposed multi-purpose construction project on the 102.6-acre site.
Prior to approving the rezoning request, the council OK’d the annexation of a portion of CR 303 abutting the Gosdin property, as well as a service plan in a 3-0 decision.
Councilors also heard from Sarah Williams, member of the local Preservation Board, which is requesting the council’s consideration to make changes to the city’s preservation ordinance.
Williams, speaking on behalf of the Preservation Board and giving advance notice of their intent to expand the Historic District around the downtown square, said it was the organization’s hopes to provide incentives to promote the revitalization of the square and renovations to historic structures.
“We’re not wanting to enlarge (the historic district) just yet. We feel that people want to have some sort of incentive,” said Williams. “Some people see it as their hands being tied with the current restrictions in place.”
Williams said the Preservation Board would like to see many of the historic homes and buildings along Barnard Street saved in the event future developers come to town and propose new structures in their place.
“Some structures are not protected and we’re hoping to have builders incorporate the existing structures into their plans in the future,” Williams told the council. “In the future, if someone decided to build a hotel or other business, we should be able to say it should like this to fit into what Glen Rose looks like.”
In order to promote and preserve the historical significance of the downtown area, Williams suggested that the council OK some incentives, including tax exemptions for designated properties.
“Nothing is retroactive. It’s more about giving incentives for people to get into the district in the future and to get their buildings back through renovation,” said Williams. “We’re hoping they wouldn’t have to pay city taxes on those improvements and encourage revitalization.”
Joan Taylor, also speaking for the Preservation Board, cited other cities which offer tax exemptions and the successful programs they’ve implemented.
“This works. I’ve seen it,” said Taylor. “Humble’s program was extensive and everyone in the downtown area joined in. Roanoke … everyone joined the historic district.”
Taylor said the local board has developed several ideas, including revised wording to the current ordinance’s Section VII outlining tax exemptions.
The changes offered by Williams state, “Properties within the Historic District shall have no assessed value for ad valorem taxation (real property) for a period of five years. The exemption begins on the first day of the first tax year following the city council’s adoption of this ordinance (Jan. 1, 2009). If an exempted building is not maintained the Preservation Board shall submit a report to the city of Glen Rose Code Enforcement. Non-compliance with this ordinance could jeopardize the city tax (real property) tax exemption.”
In addition to the five-year exemption, the board suggested that property owners who stabilize endangered structures within the Historic District or who invest 50 percent of the latest valuation on the renovations or restoration of the structure, shall be exempted from the ad valorem taxation for an additional five years.
“We would try to start working on the implementation of the tax incentives as soon as we have them,” said Williams. “It should be a positive for a town to have a vital historic district. People, oftentimes, when they drive into a town, they’ll go through the historic areas.”
Williams pled for the council to review the board’s proposal and refine it to be more specific to their liking.
Councilman Dr. Rocky Terry, asking for more time to discuss the incentives with the council and board members, offered a motion to table the item for consideration at a future meeting.
In other business, the council unanimously approved the closure of a portion of St. Rose Boulevard from Mesquite Street to US Hwy. 67.
Danny Chambers, adjacent property owner, asked the council to consider closing the stretch of roadway, citing an April 1966 decision by the council that deemed the street “hazardous.”
Chambers said the state owns a triangle-shaped parcel of land near the intersection for right-of-way, and sought the city’s approval to close the street officially and have the property deeded to him by quick claim.
Councilman Bob Stricklin offered a motion to grant Chambers’ request which received unanimous approval by the council.
The council also OK’d a request from city fire marshal Darrell Webb to trade the city’s mapping equipment for Pictometry equipment owned by the Somervell Central Appraisal District.
Webb said the city “hardly ever uses” the 42-inch map plotter and would benefit by having the digital aerial photography equipment.
“We can have the Pictometry upgraded for flyover images of the city, benefitting us in code enforcement and strategic planning by emergency services,” said Webb. “The appraisal district has agreed to use their equipment anytime we want if the trade is approved.”
Stricklin made a motion with the caveat written into the agreement that the city would have access to the mapping equipment when needed. The motion received unanimous approval by the council.
Prior to adjourning for the night, the council took action to select two 12-hour days for polls to be open during the upcoming Early Voting period for city elections.
City Secretary Peggy Busch suggested the council OK Tuesday, April 29 and Wednesday, April 30 as the extended hours for polls. The council approved the request allowing voters to cast their ballots from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on those two dates.