Over the course of the past several months, council members Vincent Voelkel and George Baroody have raised concerns about inconsistent enforcement of certain city codes and statutes. Although city staff has answered most of their questions several times before (as noted by City Manager Mark McDaniel, witnessed in several recent public meetings, and backed up by various internal emails provided to Kerrville United), the questions came to a head during the February 26 City Council Meeting. A special workshop was called to address these matters, and that meeting will occur this Tuesday morning, March 19, at 10 AM.
A 40-page report was created to supplement Tuesday’s agenda, and a cover letter penned by McDaniel notes that “most of these questions have been answered previously at some point over the last several months, but not all.” McDaniel wishes to “avoid revisiting the same issues so that we can put them behind us and move this city forward.”
The report details several specific matters that have been dealt with by the various city departments in recent months, including:
- Chamber of Commerce electronic sign
- River Trail Cottages fire lane
- River Trail Cottages platting
- Peterson Plaza fire lane
- Sports Complex utility easements
- Comanche Trace annexations
- City Hall easements
- Pint & Plow permits and fees
- Boarding home permits
- Planning & Zoning Commission variances (several specific variances questioned, including PoPo’s, Peterson Health, Pint & Plow, and Calvary Temple)
In response to Voelkel and Baroody’s often overlapping questions about these matters submitted in two separate emails (found in the appendix of the report), city staff gives detailed answers and reviews of each of the areas of concern. The full report can be viewed as a PDF using the link below.
Tuesday’s meeting is widely expected to be contentious and possibly heated. Although no public input will be allowed, council members will be able to ask questions of staff and one another concerning the sole agenda item, which reads: “Discussion and Action: Review and Discuss Questions and Responses Regarding Application of Current Codes and Ordinances (Baroody and Voelkel).”
These very public challenges launched by Baroody and Voelkel against staff come in the heat of a contentious political campaign for two city council seats. Baroody is currently serving in Place 2, but is campaigning for Place 1 in the election slated for May 4. Voelkel, who serves in Place 1, is not seeking re-election. Baroody’s opponent for Place 1 is Gary Cochrane, while Kim Clarkson and Mario Garcia (Baroody’s ally) vie for Place 2. Some voters we spoke with worry that much of the discussion on Tuesday will be political grandstanding ahead of the election, but Baroody supporters disagree.
In the lengthy report linked above, some of the responses raise questions of their own about the challengers’ actions in dealing with the matters at hand. For instance, on page 5, Voelkel asks questions about the platting and access issues for City Hall property. In response, the author says that Voelkel’s family business, Voelkel Land Surveying, made a platting error that contributed to the confusion on the City Hall land. Then, the author claims, the city negotiated a remedy to the access issues mentioned by Voelkel, but Voelkel’s attempts to widen the negotiations caused the deal to break down. The final resolution is still stalled.
Portions of the report also suggest that these issues have been discussed ad nauseam with Baroody and Voelkel. For instance, when answering Baroody’s questions about the Chamber of Commerce electronic sign, the author states, “As communicated with the Councilmember on numerous occasions…” and then goes on to explain the details. Later, the report states:
“The city attorney [Mike Hayes] has had an extensive discussion about this issue with Councilmembers Voelkel and Baroody. While their arguments are understood, their position is neither reasonable in his opinion, nor do they take into account all of the issues.”Page 11 of the Agenda Packet
The report states that there is room for improvement in some areas, and some corrections and enhancements have already been made. For instance, outdated software is scheduled to be updated or replaced in April. And some problems don’t have an immediate solution. However, staff has already made changes to improve certain processes, according to the report.
Tuesday morning’s meeting can be viewed live at the link below beginning at 10 AM that day. Recorded versions should be available on YouTube later in the day. Another meeting is scheduled at 4:00 PM — a joint meeting between City Council and the Planning & Zoning Commission — to discuss code review.
In addition to our coverage, the Kerrville Daily Times article on this subject may be found here: http://dailytimes.com/promotions/article_59cc1160-47a9-11e9-b725-b7c4e41a6176.html