The Levelland City Council held their regular meeting Monday night.
The council discussed appointing a replacement to fill the term of Mel Gierhart on the Levelland Economic Development Board. Gierhart is moving from the area. With little discussion the council approved the LEDC board recommendation of Rob Blair to fill that vacancy.
The council also approved re-appointing Sham Myatt to the Tax Increment Financing Board for zone 1 and 2 and the re-appointment of Todd Paxton to the Tax Increment Financing Board for Zone 1.
The council also discussed appointing members to the City Park Planning Task Force. The City Council representative would be Billy Youngblood, LCDC representative, Kelly Read, Youth Sports League representative, Breann Buxkemper, Manuel Mendez for District A representative, Max Ledesma, District B representative, Michael Wiiest, District C representative and Abel Perez, District D representative. With little discussion the council approved unanimously appointing all of the recommended individuals. The council also recommended the appointment of Michael Wiiest as the committee chairman. State law required the council to appoint the chairman.
The council also approved up to $1500 from the Hotel Occupancy Tax Fund to support the South Plains Showdown and the Gathering Jackpot Show.
The council also discussed procedures for addressing substandard property. Any structure or building that is in a state of dilapidation, deterioration or decay, faulty construction, overcrowded, open, vacant, abandoned or damaged by fire or other means defines a structure as sub standard according to city ordinance. The city according to chapter 214 of the Texas Local Government code has the authority to act on substandard structures. The process on addressing such property includes, City staff identifying sub standard structures and identifying the owner of the property, staff works with owners of the property. This process takes 14-30 days, if the owner fails to respond to certified mail, it then goes to housing standard commission, Housing Standard Commission then hosts a public hearing and can recommend to city council to issue order for demolition. City Council will then order a public hearing, council then can order property as demolished, property owner than has 30 days to bring property up to standard or demolish. After 30 days the city will demolish and an invoice is issued for $200 plus demolition cost. If owner fails to pay invoice, a lien is placed on the property. The city attorney noted that the council can order that the structure be brought to code, or can order demolition or simply order the property secured. Only properties that Housing Standard Commission deems to be demolished will go to city council. The attorney also noted that citations can be issued for public nuisance property, it is a criminal violation to keep a structure which has been deemed uninhabitable. He noted that all cities deal with these type of properties and timelines for dealing with is set by law, the best option is for property owners to respond.
The council held a public hearing on property located at 1707 Austin Street. The house caught fire in December of 2015. State law changed on substandard structures and city ordinance was outdated and a new ordinance had to be passed. It was September 2017 before our inspector could look at the property and deemed it non repairable, non salvageable and needed demolished in Inspector John Agnew’s opinion. It was noted that the city had attempted a year ago to get the owner to sign papers to have city demolish and she would not sign. The property is owned by Esperanza Hernandez. The council unanimously approved to order demolition of property following a 30 day notice to the property owner. It was noted that the property owner can appeal to state district court.
The council also cast their votes for the Hockley County Appraisal District Board.
The council also authorized bidding for sidewalk and ADA improvements with Texas Department of Agriculture Texas Capital Main Street Grant. This is for sidewalks to finish out Austin street in Main Street district as well as some on Avenue G.
The council also received a brief report on the progress of items addressed in the city’s strategic planning. One of those items is housing, there have been seven housing starts this year. The new fire station and communications center will add to the city infrastructure. There have been a number of improvements in the city’s park system and improvements will continue in the next budget year. The city is also increasing their community education and outreach and participation in community events.