New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 15, 2011, New Braunfels, Texas
herald-zeitung.com | Wednesday, June 15, 2011 | 5
Council OKs flood damage ordinance
By Will Wright
New Braunfels City Council approved the first reading of a new city flood-damage prevention ordinance on Monday.
The changes, actually amendments and wording changes to the city's existing flood ordinance, will include new requirements. City staffers have reviewed similar ordinances throughout the state and first proposed recommendations to the council on May 23. After revisions and a cost analysis of how proposed changes could affect property owners, city planners presented their findings before councilors.
"There were three main points of what we're trying to do," Planning Director Shannon Mattingly said. "One was to put a flood plain permit fee in place, which is associated with the floodplain permit application. Also, we only now require no-rise (impact studies) for 100-year floods, and we added one for 25-year floods.
"The third thing we did was make clarifications to the definitions (outlined in the current ordinance), and make them easier for people to understand."
Mattingly said permit fees would range from $100 and five cents per square foot for most residential permits to $250 and 10 cents per square foot for commercial permits. She said those fees are lower than fees assessed in similar communities such as Bastrop and Benbrook, located west of Fort Worth.
Councilors will again consider the changes during their June 27 meeting.
In other action Monday, council:
• Waived a $500 special-use permit fee rental for resident William Lee, who is planning to create a shortterm rental at 260 N. Castell Ave. Lee sought the waiver because he purchased the property days before council voted to change the city's short-term rental ordinance to require a special-use permit for short-term rentals in dwellings like his with a C-2 zoning classification.
• Approved amending the city's $345,000 contract with Halff Assoc iates for the design and repairs to retaining walls along Landa Lake and dam near the Spring-fed Pool. Additional work costing $76,090 is needed because of complications arising from the June 9, 2010 flood.
>roved the installa-
City to study cemetery improvements
tion of lighting at the skate park and basketball courts at Eikel Park and at Fredericksburg Field Baseball Complex. McKenna Legacy Foundation, New Braunfels Parks Foundation, Lower Colorado River Authority and New Braunfels Little League Association are con-tributing $77,400 to the $227,400 project.
• Approved a resolution ratifying the application for a federal grant totaling $981,405 to hire full-time school resource officers for local school campuses for three years.
By WNI Wright
Comal Cemetery gravesites overlooking the Guadalupe River are being threatened by erosion to the river bank, and New Braunfels City Council on Monday approved taking the first step toward resolving that problem.
High water caused ny flooding — most recently the June 9, 2010 deluge — has eaten into the river bank, which is just a five-foot drop from the fence bordering the cemetery. Additional erosion could cause part of the overhanging cliff to fall into the river.
The gravesites are about 10 feet away from the fence that straddles the cliff. Right now, officials
say, there's room to shore up and stabilize the river bank. But further study is needed — which is why council approved spending $59,500 for that feasibility study, which will be conducted by consulting engineers Freese and Nichols Inc.
Public Works Director Steve Ramsey presented a visual slideshow for council members, illustrating how part of the upper river bank has fallen into the river. Freese and
Nichols would be conducting a geotechnical engineering study as to how best to shore up the upper bank and protect against future floods.
Ramsey expects the total repair cost will be considerable.
"We will be presented three alternatives with how to fix this problem," Ramsey said.
"This will be a very expensive problem to fix — there is no simple solution."
Councilor Steven Digges noted the study's cost would eat up most of the $70,000 in the city's maintenance fund.
"We're fixing to spend most of our money on a consultant and we've got nothing to fix it with,"
Ramsey noted the study will define the cost of future action.
"What if we spend this (on the study), and then have to wait two or three years before we are able to approve construction," wondered Councilor Richard Zapata. "Would the study need to be updated?"
Ramsey said depending on the severity of erosion experienced during that period, he thinks the results would hold up at least that long.
"I hope (the study) will have some shelf life to it," he said. "A lot will depend on Mother Nature."
The measure passed 6-1, with Digges casting the dissenting vote.
New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung reader Tracye Gano captured this image of the large grass fire Sunday along Union Wine Road.
Official: Car trouble led to grass fire near NB
By Felicia Frazar
A broken-down vehicle on the side of the road is the suspected cause of the large grass fire on Sunday along Union Wine Road in the New Braunfels area.
"A Jeep got stuck on the side of an unpaved, private road and either the engine or catalytic converter started a fire," Seguin Fire Marshal Greg Dreiss said.
"It spread across several fields —
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all owned by the same person."
The blaze charred nearly 100 acres of land, along with some equipment and a couple of buildings, Dreiss said.
"It destroyed 80 to 100 acres of land, three barns and four or five antique farm implements," he said.
Units responding were New Braunfels and Seguin fire departments, Lake Dunlap, Lake McQueeney, Geronimo, Marion, Sand Hills and New Berlin volunteer fire departments, as well as a Guadalupe County Road and Bridge Department crew.
Commissioners to hear high-speed rail pitch
By Wilt Wright
Comal County Commissioners will entertain a variety of agenda items in their Thursday morning meeting, then return in workshop session that evening.
Both meetings will be inside Commissioners' Courtroom, 199 Main Plaza, New Braunfels.
Yet another high-speed rail presentation will be staged during the evening session, which begins at 6 p.m. Commissioners will hear a pitch from Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corp. (THSRTC) officials regarding a high-speed rail
project called the Texas T-Bone.
The THSRTC, a coalition of cities and counties, is lobbying to create
IF YOU GO What: Comal County
When: 8:15 and 6 p.m. Thursday Where:
Courtroom, 199 . ..
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Mam Plaza, New ^emphis/Tenn
Brau els Commissioners first heard from the THSRTC in 2004.
Last month, commissioners entertained a presentation from officials with Lone Star Rail District, a state agency proposing a passenger rail
a high-speed rail system along a 490-mile corridor that connects Texas' major metropolitan areas and extends into Oklahoma, Arkansas and
line running from San Antonio and Austin — and through New Braunfels — on existing Union Pacific tracks.
Thursday night's workshop will be the fourth of the new evening sessions hosted by the court, which sought to eive more citizens opportunity to have a voice in county government issues.
There are several housekeeping issues on the agenda for the morning meeting, which begins at 8:15 a.m. morning agenda. Among those is a general fund budget amendment to a $350,000 contract to house overflow Comal County prisoners at Guadalupe County Jail. Commissioners approved that move in April.
House OKs congressional restricting map
The Republican-controlled Texas House gave preliminary approval on Tuesday to a GOP plan to redraw congressional districts despite concerns from Democrats that it dilutes the votes of minorities.
Democrats attacked the plan by Republican Rep. Burt Solomons, arguing it doesn't accurately reflect minority growth over the past 10 years and defies the federal Voting Rights
Act. The map needs a final procedural vote before it goes back to the Senate.
Some lawmakers were angry that the map splits the Austin area into multiple districts, saying the move would diviae minority areas and dilute their collective voice. They also said it denies the most Democratic part of the state a single seat.
"Austin should be represented by one strong voice in Washington, not splin-
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tered into little pieces," said Rep. Elliot Naishtat, D-Austin. "It doesn't serve our minority communities to be grouped with distant districts."
Austin Democrat Rep. Dawnna Dukes called tne map "purposeful discrimination" by lawmakers trying to fracture communities of interest and weaken minority votes.
"You couldn't have done a better job of carving out minority neighborhoods
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unless you were a surgeon with a sharp scalpel," Dukes said.
Solomons rejected multiple Democrat plans that would have created new Hispanic and African-American districts throughout the state.
NBFD: Crashes result in injuries
From staff reports
Three crashes, one each on Friday, Sunday and Monday, in New Braunfels sent several people to area hospitals but none with very serious injuries, a fire official said.
About 12:55 p.m. Friday, two vehicles collided near the 200 block of Loop 337, said Capt. Patrick O'Connell of New Braunfels Fire Department. He said fire personnel discovered two patients at the scene and drove them both to Chris-tus Santa Rosa Hospital-New Braunfels, with nonlife threatening injuries.
Crews cleared tne scene by 1:35 p.m., O'Connell said.
About 12:05 p.m. Sunday, fire personnel learned of a car at 1455 I-35 South with its engine compartment on fire.
Investigators learned the fire was caused when the car smashed into a concrete retaining wall, O'Connell said.
Crews extinguished the flames and blocked the wreck until the vehicle could be removed.
One patient was driven to University Hospital in San Antonio with non-life threatening injuries, O'Connell said.
About 2:10 a.m. Monday, O'Connell said, fire crews were called to the 2700 block of I-35 North to find a three-vehicle wreck with one vehicle having extensive front-end damage after striking a concrete barrier.
All of the cars' occupants refused treatment and fire department personnel cleared the scene about 2:45 a.m., O'Connell said.
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