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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - July 12, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas BKT AVAILABLE COPY XHT TRSDAYNew Braunfels    july    12,2001 "■HBP*    12    pages    in    2    sectionsHerald-Zeitung .   ,- —    ■. . ... - Vol. 150, No. 208    Serving    New    Braunfels    and    Comal    County    since    1852    50    centsInside Abby................................5A Classifieds.......................2-4B Comics..............................8A Crossword........................5A Forum.................................6A Local/Metro........................4A Movies.................................5A Obituaries...........................3A Sports............................1-2BA Today.................................2A Key Code 76 Lawsuit centers on noise debate By Ron Maloney Staff Writer SEGUIN — The trial that could determine the future of a controversial Marion drag racing track opened Wednesday in a crowded Guadalupe County courtroom with testimony from competing acoustical experts. Neighbors sued the operator of the River City Raceway, Todd Zampese, claiming the noise the facility generates is a nuisance that is ruining their homes. They are seeking to have the operation either shut down or modified to reduce the noise. Jurors will decide whether the track is a nuisance. If it is, visiting District Court Judge Don Morgan will decide what to do about it. Since opening the track in January 2000, Zampese built fences to deaden the noise from his quarter-mile drag strip. He also placed buildings in locations he hoped would cut back on the noise and offered to take other measures, such as soundproofing the homes of his closest neighbors. Under Texas laws, noise impacts on neighbors are now restricted to 85 decibels. See LAWSUIT/7A Main St. looking for new direction By Amy Clarkson Staff Writer The Main Street Advisory Board plans to ask New Braunfels city manager and city council to hire an interim director — at least until the end of the fiscal year. After attending meetings with the Downtown Association, the board discussed asking the city to hire an independent consultant to run the program. Director Lynn Fountain’s last day in New Braunfels is Friday. She accepted a job to head a fledging Main Street program in Gainesville. Amid rumors the city council might not continue the program, the Main Street Board and Downtown Association discussed strategy to continue downtown programs and development. Main Street is a statewide program that encourages historic preservation and economic development in downtown areas. New Braunfels is one of more than 75 Main Street cities in Texas. Chairwoman Marian Benson asked that the Herald-Zeitung not report on the board’s decision, saying she would prefer to discuss it with City Manager Mike Shands and the New Braunfels City first. Benson said she attended the Downtown Association See DIRECTION/7A Conservative columnist makes debut in Zeitung From staff reports Readers of the Herald-Zeitung’s editorial page will find a new columnist at the bottom of the page today. The Herald-Zeitung will start running syndicated columnist Charley Reese. Reese, a columnist with the Orlando Sentinel, writes his column from a conservative point-of-view. “It’s not important to me if people agree or disagree withColumn/6A my point of view. What I hope my column does is provoke people into thinking about issues,’’ Reese said. King Features Syndicate Inc. distributes Reese’s column three times a week to more than 150 newspapers. Reese was born in Washington, Ga., on Jan. 19, 1937. He grew up there, in East-Tfexas and Florida. He started his journalism career at the Pensacola News in Florida as a reporter in 1955. Reese moved to other newspapers during a 10-year period writing everything from sports to politics. Reese started working for the Sentinel in 1971 as assistant metro editor. He later became assistant to the publisher, then columnist and editorial board member. He has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and voted the best columnist in Florida by the Florida Press Association and the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. According to the website, a column he wrote on House of Hope, a home for abused teens, prompted former President Ronald Reagan to donate $1,000. Reese is the author of four books, including “Great Gods of the Potomac,” and was the ghost writer of “Tire Flleventh Hour” by Gen. l^ewis Walt. “Most of the people here oppose annexation...Having said that, we recognize that it is inevitable. ” — James Taylor “It will take money to fix (roads), and we would expect the city to perform for our tax mon-ey. — Mike Thomson “If we are annexed, I expect certain services from the city, road improvements and a new fire station. ” — Jeff Mund “We’ve submitted a petition and asked for a meeting... we’ll save your time tonight. ” — Dennis Gallaher JULY 18, 2001 City holds second public hearing. AUGUST 13, 2001 First reading of the annexation ordinance. By Amy Clarkson Staff Writer With emotions ranging from resignation to anger, resident after resident from targeted areas spoke against being annexed into New Braunfels. Council chambers filled with people at the first public hearing. A group of about IO protestors held bright-green signs, which read “NO annexation,” in front of the nunicipal building as people arrived for the hearing. More than IOO concerned residents packed the council chambers; about 20 people addressed the crowd voicing their opposition. No resident spoke in favor of the annexation plan. An overflow room was set up for the hearing, which was also broadcast on cable channel 21. The council asked people who had already spoken to adjourn to the overflow room to let others have their turn. The city is beginning the annexation process for 2001. Council voted to halt annexation proceedings for a year this past summer to allowAnnexation map, target areas/7A homeowners to negotiate terms with the city. Homeowners in Mission Valley Estates and T Bar M Estates estimated that the cost of hooking on to city water and sewer lines would be about $40,000 for each resident. Some residents would have to install lift and pump systems to take the sewer lines up hill. Others would be forced to put the lines in through rocky soil. “We do not oppose annexation in principal,” T Bar M resident Roger Tuttle said. “We recognize that city services enhance the value of the property, if those services are provided at a reasonable cost. This service plan is unreasonable. The taxes assessed without the value of services actually decrease the value of our homes. So, annexation for us is an unreasonable idea. We estimate that the cost to our homeowners to be a total of $35,000 to $45,000 each. No service will make that cost reasonable.” Other residents from Mission Valley Estates and Preiss Heights handed in petitions signed by those who oppose annexation. “We voted unanimously at a recent homeowners’ meeting to avoid annexation,” Mission Valley Estates resident Jim Rector said. “We know you can annex us without our permission, but theres nothing good from this situation. Theres been a lack of planning from the city. I can’t imagine the impact on some of my neighbors. We ask that you reconsider annexing Mission Valley Estates.” SOUTHBANK TO NEGOTIATE The residents of South-bank, involved in the annexation process for the second year, resigned themselves to becoming part of the city and hired an attorney to negotiate. Southbank residents vehemently opposed annexation this past year and were instrumental in having city council propose the one-year moratorium. Jim Nias, of Walker Jack son, is the attorney for the subdivision. He said the association hoped to negotiate a service plan with the city. He gave council members a letter outlining the residents’ concerns. According to the letter, Southbank residents request that the city keep new budders aware of the private deed restrictions and encourage them to build to those restrictions. Other concerns are trash pickup, street maintenance, street lights, zoning restrictions and police protection. The subdivision also wants a traffic light installed at Farm-to-Market Road 725. “It may be the case that TxDOT will ultimately have to approve this,” the letter reads. “However, the city could be of assistance in convincing TxDOT that a light is warranted at this location...” Southbank has separate water, sewer and electric providers and asked the city to assist in negotiations with New Braunfels Utilities. See HEARING/7 AAnnexation timeline JULY 19, 2000 City imposes a one-year moratorium on annexation. ^ JULY 11, 2001 City holds first public hearing since issuing moratorium. JULY 24, 2001 Mission Valley and Preiss Heights to hold hearings. Clamor at city hall CHRIS PACE/Herald-Zeitung Jeff Mund addresses the City Council Wednesday night in the Municipal Building concerning the annexation of one area off of State Highway 46. Homeowners speak out at first annexation hearing ;