City denies zoning change


HOUSTON – Two mobile homes on one lot at the gateway of the Tanglefoot Trail will not get a zoning variance to allow for a utility hookup.

The Houston Board of Aldermen voted 3-2 last week to deny Randy Kirby a variance to legally allow city water and sewer service to a second second trailer on Daniel Boone Drive. A split vote by the board prompted Houston Mayor Stacey Parker to cast the deciding vote.

Kirby is the brother of Ward 2 Alderman Shenia K. Jones and this prompted Jones to recuse herself from Tuesday meeting. Alderman-at-Large Barry Springer made the motion to allow the variance and it was seconded by Ward 4 Alderman Willie Mae McKinney. Ward 1 Alderman Tony Uhiren and Ward 3 Alderman Frank Thomas voted against it.

Houston’s weak mayor form of government has the mayor serve as an administrator for the Board of Aldermen and brings issues to the board and monitors the execution of board votes. The mayor only votes in the event of a tie.

“I went over there and it is a messed up deal and it was done years ago,” said Springer. “I said I’ll support you if you underpin the trailer and maintain it properly.”

City Attorney Elizabeth Ausbern said the city would have to grandfather in the variance and forgive any discrepancy on this lot.

The single lot is zoned R-2 for one structure and currently has two trailers on it. The 14,000-square-foot lot has a triangle shape.

“The property is not big enough for the two units on it now,” said Uhiren. “One unit is Ok. There are also some concerns with the set-backs and the exact property line.”

Thomas admitted the trailers in question look better than some in town.

“But if we do this we have to apologize to other people we have denied this type variance to,” said Thomas.

Mayor Parker said uniform application of all city zoning and ordinances was his reason for not voting for the variance.

“Based on consistency, I can’t support this,” said Parker. “Consistency and treating everybody the same is something I preach every day. I just want to be fair.”

The board pointed out the trailers could be moved and a duplex built on the lot and serve the same purpose.

In other business:

• The board entered executive session to allegedly discuss personnel issues. The motion to enter executive session was made by Jones and seconded by McKinney. The executive session lasted 28-minutes with no action taken by the board.

• The city approved health, dental and vision insurance for city employees.

The city was told by implementing a no-smoking policy for city employees while at work could save up to 3-percent on premiums for city employees and $43,000 a year in city matched premium contributions.

• The board re-appointed Lee Nabors to the GM&O Trail Board. The GM&O board is the governing body of the Tanglefoot Trail. Each community on the trail has a representative on the board.

• The board took no action on a zoning request by Jeff and Julie Hollingsworth to change a northeast corner of a commercial lot zoned C-3 to R-1 residential.

The lot is at the back of the property currently occupied by Moore’s Restaurant. The Hollingsworths said they want to build a house on the lot. The newly formed lot does connect to another lot zoned R-1.

The board asked for a legal description and survey of the property before approving the change.

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