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Council moves to rezone property on NE 20th St to multi-family dwelling for planned apartment complexes

in City of Paris by

The following article is currently being updated.

The Paris City Council met at 5:30 p.m. on Monday for their regular scheduled meeting to recognize Amanda Willows and Coleman Morris’ Adopt-A-Cop program; to discuss future street repairs via tax increase, matched funding for new hangars at Cox Field, and natural gas inspections;to approve the rezoning of a large vacant lot to Multi-Family Dwelling off of NE 20th St, a new noise ordinance, and taxi cabs.

5:35 – Keith Flowers is speaking to the Paris City Council about natural gas inspections following an extended disconnection.

5:37 – Louise Mosley is following Flowers’ lead, saying it cost $600 total to turn gas back on. “It’s a burden for someone on a fixed income.”

They want this inspection gone. Gas companies will inspect before they turn on gas regardless. “There’s too much red-tape,” a third speaker is saying during the citizen’s forum, “and we need a way to speed this up”

5:39 – Chief Hundley is speaking on the recognition of Amanda Willows and Coleman Morris for their Adopt-A-Cop fundraising initiative.

This provided each officer in Lamar County for bulletproof vests and ballistic helmets capable of stopping rifle rounds. Mayor AJ Hashmi walked around to personally shake hands and recognize Willows and Morris.

5:43 – Councilmember Lancaster is asking about dilapidated homes on the west Paris trail. “I wouldn’t want my kids on the trail with those houses…”

Citywide street repair funding is up to the public, Mayor says

5:44 – Hashmi is speaking on PJC’s recent annexation and the decrease in city’s taxes. The money saved could go to city roads.

5:45 – Hashmi: if we let it go on without fixing it, it will take a huge bond to remedy.

5:47 – City Financer: it’s been projected that PJC will lower taxes down to 8 cents per $100 valuation.

5:49 – Avg home is $76,302 and currently pays $1,939, and if Paris goes forward with this, will pay $1,903. If we do nothing, it will fall to $1,864

5:50 – “It is for you, the residents, to decide,” Hashmi said. “No one is here to force more taxes on anyone.”

5:51 – Hashmi: “We will try to identify and take consideration from residents,” on what roads to fix.”

5:54 – “It generates almost $11 million” to pay for ~18 city streets. Church, 33 SE, 24 SE, Collegiate, Graham, 6th, 7th, 1st, 8th are a few listed

5:54 – Streets fall throughout the city and in all districts and include those heavily damaged by recent floods.

5:56 – Frierson: “i understand the dire need” but doesnt think he’d sign on to a nickel tax increase. Asks if the public will vote.

5:57 – Hashmi wants to hear from the public before deciding whether to put it up for a vote. If it seems iffy, there will be a public vote.

5:58 – Hashmi: if overwhelmingly negative response, we’ll drop it without proceeding further.

5:58 – Clifford, Jenkins, and Trenado want to hear from the public.

5:59 – Lancaster to City Manager Godwin: “It looks like you did a really good job identifying,” the worst streets.

Council, citizens discuss the fate of undeveloped land on NE 20th St

6:01 – Speaking now on previous petition to change zoning from SF to MF to establish duplex or apartment uses on NE 20th St.

in question is ~12 or so acres that connects to 20th St near the curve next to MLK St.

“A written protest against the rezoning has been received, which will require 6 council votes to over-ride” per meeting powerpoint slides

Chad Stephens, son of owners and realtor: “Will clean up property to more park-like setting. ”

Stephens: “Will be stringent background checks to ensure good neighbors”

Stephens says they’re purchasing land @ end of 22nd to provide a second entrance. Talking abt previous flooding and planned retention ponds

Stephens sats it resembles nice complexes in North Dallas, and investors will be Hamilton Properties.

Jeff Hill says when he showed most neighboring residents pictures of what apts would look like, they were excited.

Hill: I heard a lot of rumors that these would be section 8, tall, and would build up to their property line.

Hill: I had 8 people sign our counter-petition to have their name removed from the previous petition. 12 in total.

Man is speaking on need to improve drainage and get state participation to get a turning lane on 20th.

Jim Montgomery: “Not like most people here, I live 200ft from these…my biggest concern is that curve and traffic.”

Montgomery: “Ive talked to the state” and they recently blacktopped it and have no plans to do anything further in near future.

Montgomery: unless we do something to this road, accidents are going to happen.

Montgomery: this has come up again and again for 15 years and has never made it passed the zoning committee.

Cindy Toms, local resident: “Im against…we have no guarantees,” citing drainage.

Toms: “how could you allow this” when flooding is already a problem.

Toms speaking on flooding, traffic, and worries of low income housing tho Stephens family says these will not be low income

Virginia Allen: “Stop a minute & think what you want Paris to look like in 15 years…do you want everything in the loop to be low income?”

Allen is a neighbor the property.

Allen: We have 51 signatures from owners, 58 sigs of concerned citizens and renters within area. These people will live with yr decisions.

Allen: “More concrete will cause more water to come down on us.”

Allen: “You’re putting more people into that area than currently live around it.”

Allen: There’s no place to walk down 20th St.

Allen: If you dont think it’s a problem, pull into a driveway on that corner and try to pull back out.

A lady is now speaking on flooding. “We need some consideration from city for people living there” and experience flooding

“I’ve paid a lot of money to put drainage ditches on each side of my house.” “I ask you to come out and look at this property.”

“I had hoped to be able to die there, but I may have to move.”

Bobby Smallwood is speaking in favor of this. “First, It would be nice to add $5mil to our tax rolls.” also cites need for nice apts.

Smallwood says the city will do their due diligence IN RE the flooding and traffic problems should this area be rezoned.

Another neighbor is speaking about her greatest concern: the water.

Cecil Ballard, who owns prop near planned complex is speaking against this rezoning. “We need growth, but…” we don’t need it in this area.

Ballard: “What’s the guarantee that” these apts will live up to the promises? “If it’s done right– bring it in…but not right there.”

Ballard: “If only 4 acres is being developed,” what of the remainder?

Ballard: We count on you to protect us. We’re going to lose a lot of the tranquility there is behind our property. This will change a lot.

Ballard: For a lot of people who have lived there forever, this was like a sanctuary for single family housing.

Ballard to council: We need an in-depth study on this, dont make your decisions hastily.

Robert Woodby: “I think a good engineer could take care of this property and its water problems.”

Stephens sister, Woodby’s wife, spoke in favor of rezoning.

Another neighbor is now speaking in favor of apartments, saying Paris needs this housing, citing drug use and rodents on undeveloped land.

Her property borders the land in question.

Pat Murphy is now speaking in favor, saying existing drainage problem needs to be addressed by council regardless.

Murphy: City Council has final say on the development IN RE drainage, etc. Also says SF is not feasible on this property.

Murphy says development will not decrease value of neighboring properties, citing previous apt complexes.

Chad Stephens is addressing neighbors’ concerns, “hasn’t been a wreck since 1995…street avgs 5000 cars daily.” per Paris Police Dept.

Stephens: the new owner will have a strong financial incentive to maintain this property

Stephens is citing the development of land at Home Depot…concrete parking, retention ponds, and drainage…no problems with flooding.

Hashmi: water problem needs to be priority irrespective of how the council votes tonight.

Hashmi: If we were to approve it, we need to have some teeth to address traffic, flooding, (and home values)

Hashmi: I want to have 100% assurance, that homes are not so high that others have intrusion of privacy…

Hashmi: Says drainage problems should be resolved before even building.

Hashmi opens this item to council for discussion. Lancaster would like to see housing put there, but that drainage needs to be addressed.

Jenkins: I’m all for development…but the traffic is bad on that curve.

Godwin: they would be required to submit a drainage plan. We can’t require them to fix an existing problem, but must maintain status quo.

Stephens says they will improve drainage. Hashmi asks if concrete will make a difference.

Stephens: concrete you’re dealing with erosion.

Stephens says concrete helps control drainage better than removable soil (erosion)

Nat. gas inspections, downtown security cameras, and taxi cabs

All in favor for changing nat gas inspections to one year following shut offs/disconnections.

Chief Hundley is giving an update on downtown security cameras. “Before end of January, we’ll see them up”

Council reapproves three taxi cab licenses.

Cox Field hangars

Next up, Cox Field hangar requiring additional funding of $433,806 to construct 10-unit hangar.

1999-2000 was the last year any hangars were constructed.

Lowest bid within budget was for 4-unit hangars, but airport needs more than 4, member of Airport Commission says.

Hashmi asks how Paris can support this when rent is so low…(or something to that effect.)

Frierson is backing up Hashmi, how did surrounding city-owned airports fund their new hangars?

Drake: I agree we need more, but where does the funding come from?

Talks of raising rent, but it won’t cover the costs of expansion.

Hashmi: bring us some options. we all want the airport developed, but bring us some solutions.

Hashmi asked to have this moved to next agenda but Godwin says this is a TXDOT project and this is already moving fwd.

Godwin: is that the best use of $400k…

Drake: …when we have people’s houses flooding

New noise ordinance

Drake: Will the police have right to issue verbal or written warning prior to a ticket?

City Atny Harris: they can, but there is no requirement.

Mayor Hashmi asks to table item 28. Council agrees.

Hashmi is recusing himself from discussion on Item 30, citing a conflict of interest

Godwin: We’re trying to recoup some of the losses on tax foreclosed properties.

Lancaster motions, Trenado seconds. All in favor.

Executive session, Street of Dreams, and a requested update on District 6 ditches

Council is now convening into executive session to discuss First National Bank building.

Back in open session, Hashmi moves to give Godwin authority to hire a structural engineer

Hashmi asked to have an item added to the next meeting’s agenda, called the “Street of Dreams.”

Drake requested an update for the two ditches in her district and a timeline of what will happen next.

Colton is the founder of Paris Free Press. He was born and raised in Paris, Texas, graduated from North Lamar ISD and Paris Junior College with an Associate Degree. He lives in Lamar County with his loving girlfriend and their three dogs and two cats. He has once been uncredited in The Paris News.

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