Council supports bullet train, approves new utility rate mechanism and other ordinances

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Courtesy of the Texas Central Media Center

Lewisville City Council met Monday night to discuss and pass three ordinances, including an annual rate review mechanism regarding the Texas utilities code for gas. They also stated their support for the Texas Bullet Train project.

Items discussed included an update on an officer safety program during 6 p.m. work session that has provided police officers with body cameras and tasers. The update broke down what the purpose of the cameras is and how they will be used. Officers are to begin recording when suspicious activity is noted, when they exit their vehicle, arrests, traffic stops and pursuits.

The cost is listed as $276,082 the first year, with years two through five listed at a combined cost of $213,912. In the plan, the body cameras are replaced every two years and the tasers are replaced every five years. The presentation also detailed triggers that could be included with the cameras. The triggers would cause the cameras to begin recording automatically and could be anything from when an officer’s door is opened, to when the officer draws his gun. The triggers would cost around $20,000 total, according to the presentation.

The council voted unanimously to support the bullet train project during the meeting, with Mayor Rudy Durham saying in the workshop he believed it was something the city should do.

“I ask that this be put on,” Durham said. “Just to show regional support … in the spirit of assistance.”

Durham also said it can help the city economically.

Previously, the Dallas Regional Mobility Council asked local mayors to express support for the bullet train. The project would connect Dallas to Houston with a 90-minute ride, rather than the four-hour drive down I-45. Developers Texas Central Partners have stated they will not use public money to build the train.

The council also briefly discussed and passed a new annual rate review mechanism that would replace the current annual interim rate adjustment process that currently exists. The rate is defined in the Texas utilities code and helps calculate the gas rates charged to customers. City Manager Donna Barron called the current rate mechanism ineffective.

Other items discussed and passed included an ordinance waiver from the Tower Bay Lofts developers’. They requested to receive a building permit prior to completion of the sewer improvements, fire lanes and water infrastructure, as well as provide the city with a performance bond to build several public improvements at once, all of which go against the city’s development code. They are requesting the permit early due to the timeframe it could take for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to finish public improvements related to the loft. Developers have provided a cash escrow loan to its Housing and Urban Development lender.

City officials decided to pass variances in the city code to allow Texas New Mexico Power to install a power pole, which would provide utility and service to the new building at 251 S. Mill Street. Originally, staff had rejected the permit due to the Old Town Development Ordinance, which requires new utility lines below 60 kilovolts to be underground. The permit was requested due to it requiring the line to go under an existing drainage inlet. Staff at the meeting specified it would result in the removal of two existing overhead lines on Mill Street and the developers were footing the cost.

The city also approved an extension for its agreement with Hard Sun for the development of the new J2 Steakhouse that is currently being constructed in the old Lewisville Feed Mill. Originally, the restaurant was to be completed last year, but had been extended through March 30. The new extension will push it two months to May 30.

The original agreement consists of the developer investing as much as $1.1 million into the renovation and redevelopment of the steakhouse. The city would reimburse as much as $254,000.

During the open forum, a citizen challenged the constitutionality of part of the city’s sign ordinance, specifically 11-13 subsection A, but did not go into detail. He concluded by giving each council member a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

Councilman TJ Gilmore later told LTJ the complaint related to Christmas Decorations that were required to come down by Feb. 1.

The council approved a bid from the Security Center in Dallas for bullet-resistant glass and installation, which can resist a 7.62mm lead core full metal copper jacket, military ball (.308 Caliber) rifle bullet, according to the agenda background material. This would provide the police department with increased perimeter security and is within the city’s budget parameters. It costs $110,051.82.

City Council meets the first and third Mondays of every month and typically holds an hour-long workshop prior to the meeting. The meetings and workshops are open to the public. The next meeting is scheduled for April 2.

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