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Planning & Zoning Commission

Regular Meeting Agenda

April 5, 2017

6:00 PM

Council Chambers, 200 W. Walker Street

 

 

I.                    Call to Order and Roll Call of Members

 

II.                  Approval of Minutes

 

A.     March 20, 2017 Meeting Minutes

 

III.               Citizen Communication

The privilege of speaking at this time is limited to the following persons: residents, persons having an ownership interest in property or a business within the City, or their attorneys. A statement of no more than 3 minutes may be made. There will be no yielding of time to another person. State law prohibits members of the Planning and Zoning Commission from commenting on any statement or engaging in dialogue without an appropriate agenda item being posted in accordance with the Texas Open Meetings Act. Comments should be directed to the entire Planning and Zoning Commission, not individual members of the Planning and Zoning Commission or staff. If addressing a specific agenda item, speakers must keep their remarks specific to the item being considered by the Planning and Zoning Commission. Any speaker making personal attacks or using vulgar or profane language shall forfeit his/her remaining time and shall be seated.

 

IV.               Public Hearing and Action Items from Public Hearing

 

A.     Hold a public hearing and make a recommendation to City Council on an ordinance amending Chapter 125 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of League City entitled "Zoning" by amending Section 125-20.D entitled "Powers and Responsibilities" for the City Planner to approve minor deviations to provisions of the Zoning Ordinance.

 

B.      Hold a public hearing and make a recommendation to City Council on an ordinance amending Chapter 125 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of League City entitled "Zoning" by amending Section 125-120.B entitled "Accessory Structures" to allow shipping containers to be permitted as an accessory structure in certain instances.

 

C.     Hold a public hearing and make a recommendation to City Council on an ordinance amending Chapter 90 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of League City entitled "Signs" by amending Section 90-10 entitled "Non-Conforming Signs" to allow for certain exemptions to the non-conforming sign ordinance.

 

V.                  Staff Comments

 

VI.               Adjournment 

 

CERTIFICATE

THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT THE ABOVE NOTICE OF MEETING WAS POSTED ON THE BULLETIN BOARD AT CITY HALL OF THE CITY OF LEAGUE CITY, TEXAS, ON OR BEFORE THE 31st DAY OF MARCH 2017, BY 6 PM, AND WAS POSTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH CHAPTER 551, LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE (THE TEXAS OPEN MEETINGS ACT).  ITEMS POSTED IN THE OPEN SESSION PORTIONS OF THIS AGENDA MAY ALSO BE DISCUSSED IN CLOSED OR EXECUTIVE SESSION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE TEXAS OPEN MEETINGS ACT.

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT THE PRESENCE OF A QUORUM OF THE MEMBERS OF CITY COUNCIL AT ANY TIME DURING THE COURSE OF THE ABOVE-REFERENCED PROCEEDING MAY CONSTITUTE A MEETING OF CITY COUNCIL PURSUANT TO THE TEXAS OPEN MEETINGS ACT, CHAPTER 551 OF THE TEXAS GOVERNMENT CODE.  BY THIS NOTICE, THE PUBLIC IS HEREBY ADVISED OF SAID MEETING NOT LESS THAN 72 HOURS IN ADVANCE OF THE DATE, TIME AND LOCATION NOTED ABOVE.

 

 

 

_________________________________

Frankie Legaux, AICP

Assistant Director

Planning and Development

 

 

 

 

 

MEETING MINUTES

CITY OF LEAGUE CITY

PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION

Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at 6:00 P.M.

COUNCIL CHAMBERS

200 W WALKER ST.



I.                    Call to Order and Roll Call of Members

Douglas Turner opened the meeting at 6:00 PM.

 

Members Present:

Members Absent:

Douglas Turner, Chair

William Arnold

Wayne Alderman

Annette Ramirez

Mike Lee


Gary Walding
Jon Schweinle

Gene Bindhammer

 

 

City Staff:

 

Paul Menzies, Director of Planning and Development

Kris Carpenter, Planning Manager

Melinda St. Lawrence, Planning Technician

Michelle Villarreal, Deputy City Attorney

 

II.                 Approval of Minutes

A.     March 20, 2017

 

Mr. Bindhammer made a motion to approve the March 20, 2017 minutes.

Mr. Alderman seconded the motion.

The motion passed by a vote of 7-0-1.

Mr. Walding abstained.

 

III.              Citizen Communication

Peggy Zahler of 1802 Rampart, spoke to item 4.C. on the agenda regarding the McDonald?s pylon sign. She informed that she participated in the workshop and stated she was prepared to speak at the public hearing for the agenda item. She requested detailed supporting information or a thorough discussion for those citizens of whom do not regularly attend meetings.


IV.      Public Hearing and Action Item from Public Hearing

A.     Hold a public hearing and make a recommendation to City Council on an ordinance amending Chapter 125 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of League City entitled "Zoning" by amending Section 125-20.D entitled "Powers and Responsibilities" for new regulations allowing for administrative adjustments to be permitted by the City Planner.

Paul Menzies, Director of Planning and Development for the City of League City, provided a presentation on the proposed ordinance amendment.

 

Mr. Arnold asked if there was someone, such as the Mayor, that the City Planner could go to obtain a second opinion.

Mr. Menzies stated technically the City Planner would grant the leeway, but consultation with other senior level staff could be considered as a condition.

 

Mr. Schweinle stated that it would place a lot of power in a single source, and the successor to current staff remained unknown. He continued that the definition of "minor" would need to be further defined.

Mr. Menzies replied that minor deviations would include parking spaces for example, but would not extend to uses or other major deviations.

 

Mr. Walding stated that a "minor" turned into an opinion quickly and stated he supported the ordinance for efficiency. He recommended that more than one person in a position of authority, with a technical background, should sign off.

 

Mr. Alderman opined that the City Manager or Mayor may be appropriate to handle political oversight that may arise.

 

Ms. Ramirez asked if the percentage of change was known for a variance.

Mr. Menzies stated at current any change would require a variance.

Ms. Ramirez stated the word minor was of concern and requested clarification on what required a variance.

Mr. Menzies answered very small deviations of current would require a variance, which may delay a project for 2 or 3 months.

Ms. Ramirez asked how often the situation happened.

Mr. Menzies replied it was not often nor routine, but it did happen. He continued the intent of the ordinance would be to allow minor deviations on plans that were submitted to the city for permit review, not for potential circumstances.

 

Mr. Arnold stated that sentence 4 could include the City Manager, in addition to the City Planner.

Mr. Menzies requested it to state the City Manager, or two or three of his designees.

Mr. Alderman opined there should be more than one person involved in the decision to avoid conflict.

 

Ms. Ramirez asked if they placed percentage requirements and indicated they were guidelines, if it would save them from being treated as precedence or law.

Mr. Arnold stated every aspect would then have to be assigned a percentage.

Mr. Schweinle stated that percentages could be difficult to apply, but a medium was needed.

 

Mr. Alderman asked if all provisions included in the ordinance were required to be met.

Mr. Menzies replied all provisions were mandatory.

 

Mr. Turner stated that "minor" was almost defined under Item E.

Mr. Alderman stated that "magnitude" was not defined, and neither was "minor".

 

Mr. Walding opined that leeway was needed to be friendlier for building permits and pointed that staff were professionals in their field. He included if several people were required to sign off, there should not be an issue.

 

Ms. Ramirez asked if other cities had similar ordinances.

Mr. Menzies answered most cities require an applicant to meet the requirements or obtain approval through the ZBA. He included that other cities had percentage deviations, of which may prove to be an issue.

 

Mr. Schweinle asked if it would be breaking a law to apply the ordinance.

Mr. Menzies stated as a home rule city, he was not aware of any contrary to law.

Ms. Villarreal stated it was within the confines of law.

 

Mr. Walding stated it should be specified that Mr. Menzies would be a signer at his level.

Ms. Ramirez asked if they could name the specific title, rather than designee.

 

Mr. Alderman asked for the City Manager to be involved to ensure public concerns were considered.

Mr. Walding stated he did not want items to go to the City Manager, as he was likely too busy to be involved.

Mr. Arnold said he did not think it should go to the level of City Manager.

Mr. Menzies stated he had the City Planner, Director of Planning, and City Engineer for approval authority.

Mr. Schweinle asked how difficult it would be to obtain a quorum of three of those people.

Mr. Menzies replied it would not be difficult.

 

Chair Turner opened the public hearing at 6:39 p.m.

 

Joe Fletcher, attorney in the City of League City, stated he felt the ordinance amendment was a great idea. He informed he had clients of whom had similar issues, where a variance was the only cure for very minor issues. He encouraged the Commission to consider the item.

 

The public hearing was closed at 6:40 p.m.

 

Mr. Walding made a motion to make a recommendation of approval to City Council on an ordinance amending Chapter 125 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of League City entitled "Zoning" by amending Section 125-20.D entitled "Powers and Responsibilities" for new regulations allowing for administrative adjustments to be permitted by the City Planner, with the addition in paragraph four to include the City Planner, City Engineer, and Director of Planning for approval authority.

Mr. Arnold seconded the motion.

 

Mr. Alderman stated he was an architect and worked in a lot of cities, many of which required to meet the code or obtain a variance. He feared potential issues regarding the definition of "minor" and Item E, of which may be a catch-22.

Ms. Villarreal informed legal felt comfortable with the language and stated the City had staff capable of making determinations. She included if the application of the ordinance did not work, it could be appealed.

 

The motion passed by the following vote:

For:                7-  Mr. Turner, Mr. Arnold, Mr. Bindhammer, Mr. Schweinle, Ms. Ramirez, Mr. Lee, Mr.  Walding

Opposed:       1-  Mr. Alderman

 

B.    Hold a public hearing and make a recommendation to City Council on an ordinance amending Chapter 125 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of League City entitled "Zoning" by amending Section 125-120.C entitled "Accessory Structures" to allow shipping containers to be permitted as an accessory structure in certain instances.

Paul Menzies, Director of Planning and Development for the City of League City, provided a presentation on the proposed ordinance amendment.

 

Mr. Lee asked why the City would allow containers during the stated period but require others to adhere to other provisions.

Mr. Menzies stated there was some forgiveness within the provision, but the City also may not have been satisfactory regarding enforcement.

Mr. Lee opined it was the City's job to determine compliance and to request such if required.

 

Ms. Ramirez asked if they were facing a situation where there would be a waiver of law due to lack of enforcement for the last 10 years.

Ms. Villarreal stated there would be no waiver.

 

Ms. Ramirez asked if the containers that would be grandfathered would be required to be screened.

Mr. Menzies stated as with any legally non-conforming status, they would be allowed to remain as-is.

 

Mr. Alderman asked if the City had documentation as to what containers were placed in 2005 or after.

Mr. Menzies stated they did not, but the City had a good idea of what was out there.

 

Mr. Arnold asked how many and how long most containers had been placed within the City.

Mr. Menzies stated there was likely 100-150 on the ground total, of which a number were installed prior to 2005.

 

Mr. Arnold stated if ordinances were placed on the books, of which were not enforced, it would essentially make the City ineffective. He continued anything not enforced should not be grandfathered via a new ordinance.

 

Mr. Turner asked about stacking the containers and referred to a veterinary office within a container, outside of the city, of which was raised due to flood hazards. He asked if the City were to allow the containers, would they be allowed to be raised to meet building code.

Mr. Menzies stated clarification could be made.

 

Mr. Turner stated he was of the same opinion as other Commissioners, where if existing containers were going to be allowed, they should be required to adhere to code.

 

Mr. Schweinle stated he was concerned with Section 3 regarding the definition of a shipping container, of which may permit a welded structure of which could be built larger than a shipping container's typical dimensions. He suggested defined dimensions would be advisable.

Mr. Menzies stated the definition would be tightened.

Ms. Villarreal stated there were federal regulations that could be referenced in the report for City Council.

 

Ms. Ramirez asked if big retailers would fall under the temporary section of the ordinance.

Mr. Menzies informed that in the past holiday season, many big box retailers had shipping containers, and the City did not have a provision for it.

Ms. Ramirez asked if the Commission in majority wished to continue prohibiting the containers, could they limit the provision to account for retail.

Mr. Menzies stated the Commission had the ability to revise the ordinance to fit their recommendations.

 

Mr. Lee stated his biggest concern was not for big box retailers during holiday seasons, rather to allow people to have containers on their property, of which were installed illegally. He continued he did not like the idea of containers due to appearance and opined the aesthetic did not adhere to what the City was trying to achieve.

Mr. Alderman stated they could change the effective date to August of 2005 to address Mr. Lee?s concern.

 

Mr. Arnold asked how it would be enforced and by whom.

Mr. Menzies informed that Code Compliance would enforce.

Ms. Villarreal stated from a prosecutorial standpoint, that would be a fact issue as proof would be required. If the City was unable to establish, the case would be difficult.

 

Mr. Bindhammer asked if they could require existing containers come up to standards to the ordinance.

Mr. Menzies stated it would be a possibility with a given time frame.

 

Mr. Lee stated anyone with a container should have known to at least contact the City prior to placement, therefore they likely knowingly went against the ordinance or city requirements. Therefore, his vote would be to remove the containers.

Mr. Schweinle stated one could not say everyone was aware of the requirements for placement prior to installing a shipping container, therefore he had difficulty making such statement.

 

Mr. Alderman asked if City Council spoke to existing containers during their work session.

Mr. Menzies stated there was enough support to consider an amendment. He stated at the second workshop, a list of regulations was provided, and the provision of the date was on the list to consider further.

 

Chair Turner opened the public hearing at 7:10 p.m.

 

Larry Millican of 924 Plantation, inquired if a shipping container arrived prior to 2005, before an ordinance was established, would it be grandfathered as the ordinance existed now.

Ms. Villarreal stated the container would not be allowed nor grandfathered.

Mr. Millican stated the containers were allowed with seasonal periods for big box retailers, therefore he was unsure if the same standards could apply to the general public. He opined all seasonal changes, not just Christmas, should be considered in the ordinance.

 

The public hearing was closed at 7:12 p.m.

 

Mrs. Ramirez made a motion to make a recommendation of approval to City Council on an ordinance amending Chapter 125 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of League City entitled "Zoning" by amending Section 125-120.C entitled "Accessory Structures" to allow shipping containers to be permitted as an accessory structure in certain instances, with the following condition:

1.       Only provisions B.3, B.4, B.5 and B.6 are to be included in the Ordinance.

2.       The definition of "shipping container" as provided in Section 3 is to be revised for specificity and accuracy.

Mr. Alderman seconded the motion.

 

Mr. Walding recommended those who placed their containers prior to 2005 should be allowed to keep the containers.

Mr. Schweinle stated containers were typically marked, which may help in determining placement date.

Mr. Menzies reminded the Commission that the definition was discussed to be revised.

 

Mr. Arnold made a motion to amend to make a recommendation of approval to City Council on an ordinance amending Chapter 125 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of League City entitled "Zoning" by amending Section 125-120.C entitled "Accessory Structures" to allow shipping containers to be permitted as an accessory structure in certain instances, with the following conditions:

1.       Only provisions B.2, B.3, B.4, B.5 and B.6 are to be included in the Ordinance.

2.       The definition of "shipping container" as provided in Section 3 is to be revised for specificity and accuracy.

Ms. Ramirez seconded the motion.

 

Ms. Ramirez stated it would be extremely difficult to enforce provision B.2, of which would allow containers in existence prior to 2005 to be permitted.

Mr. Alderman opined it would be difficult to enforce.

Mr. Arnold stated he would have difficulty voting for the ordinance and stated it may need to be rewritten.

Mr. Schweinle opined enforcement would be like a jay-walking law, of which would hardly be enforced.

 

The amended motion failed by the following vote:

For:                 1-  Mr. Alderman

Opposed:         7-  Mr. Turner, Mr. Arnold, Mr. Bindhammer, Mr. Schweinle, Ms. Ramirez, Mr. Lee, Mr.  Walding

 

The main motion passed by the following vote:

 

For:                 6-  Mr. Turner, Mr. Bindhammer, Ms. Ramirez, Mr. Lee, Mr. Walding, Mr. Alderman

Opposed:         2-  Mr. Arnold, Mr. Schweinle

 

C.     Hold a public hearing and make a recommendation to City Council on an ordinance amending Chapter 90 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of League City entitled "Signs" by amending Section 90-10 entitled "Non-Conforming Signs" to allow for certain exemptions to the non-conforming sign ordinance.

Paul Menzies, Director of Planning and Development for the City of League City, provided a presentation on the proposed ordinance amendment.

 

Mr. Alderman stated he would abstain from discussion as McDonalds Corporate was a major client.

 

Ms. Ramirez asked through imminent domain, would the State have to compensate for the cost of the sign, therefore was the reason for keeping the sign be for advertising.

Mr. Menzies stated her assumption was correct, and McDonald's had a representative in attendance to speak to her question.

 

Chair Turner opened the public hearing at 7:36 p.m.

 

Joe Fletcher, attorney representing McDonald's Corporation, stated they had worked with the City regarding variance issues and the ordinance revision. He informed McDonalds was still dealing with TXDOT regarding compensation, and thus far compensation has not been provided for the sign. He informed the height was not just for advertising, rather it was to allow enough time for a vehicle to exit. He informed if an exception was granted, they would not be compensated for the sign and they were currently waiting for a decision from TXDOT.

 

Peggy Zahler of 1802 Rampart, thanked staff for the copy of the supporting data. She stated as a citizen she recognized challenges within the City and stated she hoped when there was an opportunity to adhere to an ordinance, it would not be taken advantage. She read an excerpt from the ordinance and asked why the City would not consider taking the opportunity to bring the sign into compliance and opined there were other means of locating the business, other than signage. She stated, at the City Council Workshop, discussion included that the cost of the sign would be reimbursed by TXDOT and continued the ordinance in place would remedy current issues regarding the sign. She asked the Commission to consider, from a citizen?s standpoint, that no one was harmed except for the argument for advertisement. She pointed to language in the ordinance and stated the proposed revision may require the City to consider everything not in conformance.

 

Steve Shultz, attorney representing McDonald?s Corporation, informed the franchise would indeed suffer and had studies of which showed that signs not visible would result in loss of sales. He informed neither the franchisee nor McDonalds brought the issue upon themselves. He stated when the sign was worn out and replaced, it would be brought down to code. However, as it was properly permitted at the time of installation it was considered a legally non-conforming sign. The ordinance would address only legally non-conforming signs, not all non-conforming signs as Ms. Zahler commented, and asked for passage to City Council.

 

Larry Millican of 934 Plantation, informed he did not recall directive from Council to staff on the subject. He informed the 42.5 feet is a TXDOT requirement, of which is where the ordinance was developed. He stated that highway information signs provided direction, therefore information delivery was changing as well.

 

The public hearing was closed at 7:55 p.m.

Mr. Schweinle asked when the sign was built.

Mr. Menzies stated he did not know off the top of his head, however it was likely 20 or 25 years ago as zoning regulations went into effect in 2000, of which the sign predated both zoning and the original sign ordinance.

 

Mr. Lee asked if staff had a recommendation on the item.

Mr. Menzies informed the subject was generated by City Council, therefore staff was apt to consider. However, if the request was generated by a landowner, Staff would likely struggle to find support.

 

Mr. Bindhammer stated McDonalds should be able to relocate as they complied at the time of installation.

Ms. Ramirez asked if under the current ordinance, should the sign come down due to something out of the property owners control, would they have to comply to the current ordinance.

Mr. Menzies stated that description was of the current ordinance.

 

Ms. Ramirez asked if there was a blue TXDOT sign prior to the exit.

Mr. Schweinle informed the blue TXDOT signs required payment by the business to be included, therefore there was a cost associated.

Ms. Ramirez stated she was concerned that if ordinances were changed at the request of property owners, it may prove to be an issue as opposed to standing firm.

 

Mr. Walding asked how much business would be lost due to the reduction in height of the sign and reminded the Commission of the taxes paid by the business, and the potential effect on the business.

Ms. Ramirez asked about the $150,000 figure discussed at the City Council Work Session and what was the value of the sign.

Mr. Fletcher stated the valuation was currently unknown, and discussions were underway for TXDOT to pay the cost to relocate, rather than the cost of the sign.

 

Ms. Ramirez recognized the applicant did pay a lot of taxes, and stated they also made a lot of money from citizens.

Mr. Walding opined impulse was important and the business and signage locations were intentional.

 

Mr. Bindhammer made a motion to make a recommendation of approval to City Council on an ordinance amending Chapter 90 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of League City entitled "Signs" by amending Section 90-10 entitled "Non-Conforming Signs" to allow for certain exemptions to the non-conforming sign ordinance.

Mr. Walding seconded the motion.

 

The motion passed by the following vote:

For:                 5-  Mr. Turner, Mr. Arnold, Mr. Bindhammer, Mr. Lee, Mr. Walding

Opposed:         2-  Ms. Ramirez, Mr. Schweinle

Abstained:        1-  Mr. Alderman

 

V.                 Staff Comments

Kris Carpenter, Planning Manager for the City of League City, introduced Melinda St. Lawrence as the new Planning Technician.

 

VI.              Adjournment

Douglas Turner adjourned the meeting at 8:08 p.m.

CERTIFICATE

THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT THE ABOVE NOTICE OF MEETING WAS POSTED ON THE BULLETIN BOARD AT CITY HALL OF THE CITY OF LEAGUE CITY, TEXAS, ON OR BEFORE THE 31st DAY OF MARCH, BY 6 PM, AND WAS POSTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH CHAPTER 551, LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE (THE TEXAS OPEN MEETINGS ACT).  ITEMS POSTED IN THE OPEN SESSION PORTIONS OF THIS AGENDA MAY ALSO BE DISCUSSED IN CLOSED OR EXECUTIVE SESSION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE TEXAS OPEN MEETINGS ACT.

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT THE PRESENCE OF A QUORUM OF THE MEMBERS OF CITY COUNCIL AT ANY TIME DURING THE COURSE OF THE ABOVE-REFERENCED PROCEEDING MAY CONSTITUTE A MEETING OF CITY COUNCIL PURSUANT TO THE TEXAS OPEN MEETINGS ACT, CHAPTER 551 OF THE TEXAS GOVERNMENT CODE.  BY THIS NOTICE, THE PUBLIC IS HEREBY ADVISED OF SAID MEETING NOT LESS THAN 72 HOURS IN ADVANCE OF THE DATE, TIME AND LOCATION NOTED ABOVE.

 

 

_____________________________                                 ______________________________

Kris Carpenter                                                                Douglas Turner

Planning Manager                                                         Chairman, Planning & Zoning Commission