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Ennis Daily News

P&Z halts EISD project

Citizen complaints prompt board to seek more info
It was a small group of citizens who spoke up at Monday’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, but they were adamant in trying to prove Caesar Street couldn’t handle the amount of traffic the Ennis Independent School District is attempting to direct onto the roadway.
The commissioners agreed and tabled two items related to the new intermediate school to be built on the old junior high school campus, halting any progress for a couple of weeks until representatives of Glenn Engineering can return with answers to the questions and concerns raised at the meeting.
Although 14 of the 36 notices mailed to area residents regarding abandonment of a segment of Caesar Street north of W. Belknap Street were returned in favor of the proposal, four notices were returned against the request. That combined with the citizens’ complaints Monday led to the item being tabled until a future meeting. As a result, the commission and Glenn Engineering representatives Robert Howman and Greg Burns tabled the agenda’s final item, which was for the new intermediate school’s Planned Development Site Plan.
The complaints first started coming in from those in the crowd asking who would police the campus if signs were put up to discourage certain traffic flows by making Caesar Street one way south and not allowing eastbound turns onto Belknap Street during school hours. Several residents posed this question because they said signs are now up stating Caesar Street is not to be used as a thoroughfare, but many drivers ignore that. Howerton said that would be a job for the school district’s or city’s police departments.
Commissioner Dan Jansen said he was glad to see the effort from the school district and Glenn Engineering to minimize traffic entering and leaving the campus when dropping off and picking up students, but he felt the city and school district weren’t looking at the big picture regarding potential traffic concerns on Belknap and Caesar streets. He also said he thought Howman was on the right track, but he wanted him to look into it further to see if there was a possible alternative.
“I would like to see the school district and city come together to work out how the infrastructure could hold up in the existing condition and with some improvement,” Jansen said.
He also said it was a great concept Glenn Engineering had come up with.
Longtime neighborhood residents Mary Ann Lamkin and Lou Ann Little spoke up to tell the commissioners and Glenn Engineering representatives that the area the school district was planning to transform into a major exit point for school zone traffic could not handle the increase in traffic. They called Caesar and Belknap streets haphazard trails and said they shouldn’t have been designated as roadways. Lamkin, Little and the commissioners didn’t feel the small roadway would be wide enough or up to the task of handling that sort of influx of traffic every day.
Howman answered that 400 cars would be exiting on Caesar Street, which, according to Howman, is not that different from what that area is seeing now. He claimed the plan was to send buses to the north side of the campus leaving parents’ vehicles entering on the east side with two lanes for picking up and dropping off and a center lane for passing, which would result in the vehicles turning southbound on Caesar Street and not being allowed to make a left turn on Belknap Street.
Howerton told the Commission Caesar Street could be widened, but it would be difficult due to the necessity of needing rights-of-way. Howerton also said the school district had contended they were not wanting to pay for road modifications again.
“Caesar will not handle it,” Commissioner Brian Holley said. “That is my opinion. The voters approved a bond to allow for this. In turn I think the school district needs to present the best possible product.”
Holley added after the Commission tabled the abandonment of Caesar Street that it was apparent all the commissioners used the street and know the condition and narrowness of the road.
“This is exactly what the board is here for, to listen to your concerns and consider them,” Holley said of the dissension among the crowd.
The night wasn’t a total loss for the school district. An item to amend the zoning ordinance of 16.993 acres was approved, but not without some opposition. Commissioners Carter Gaddis and Calvin Collins opposed the item, but were outvoted six to two.
The site is located west of N. Clay Street, north of W. Belknap Street and south of W. Denton Street. All of the property is owned by the school district.
The amendment is from “D” Duplex Dwelling and “R-5” Single-Family Dwelling to “IN-PD” Institutional-Planned Development.
Howerton said 31 notices were mailed regarding the zoning amendment, with eight returned in favor, two in opposition and eight in protest.
In other business, two Planned Development Site Plans were approved for billboards along S. I-45 in the 4800 and 5000 blocks. The billboards were approved with nine conditions from the Inspection Department. The conditions are the permit holder will immediately notify the city should the billboard be sold to another party, a minimum of a 10-foot by 10-foot concrete pad be constructed around the base of the billboard pole, a landscaping plan be submitted for approval, a copy of the state permit be submitted prior to the issuance of a building permit, the billboard cannot advertise any sexual oriented business, product or service, the pole must be painted a dark walnut brown, electrical service must go to the billboard underground, the appropriate Application for Billboard Permit be completed and fees paid and engineered plans for the billboard structure be submitted for review and a Sign Permit received prior to the commencement of any work at the site.
Howerton said two notices were mailed regarding the site plan with none returned for either item.
The site plans were not unanimously approved. Commissioner Jansen opposed both items, but was outnumbered seven to one.
Jansen’s was concerned about who would be maintaining and – if necessary – removing the billboard, to which both Howerton and KEM Texas Representative Craig Jenkins said it was the applicant’s responsibility. Jenkins included that a maintenance crew working for his company travels around to keep up the billboards.
John Koscielniak received permission from the Commission to re-cover a shed in his back yard with an alternative material.
than the metal that is currently showing. Commissioners allowed for exception to the material requirements detailed in the city ordinance allowing his 20-foot by 22-foot shed to have a new covering.
Howerton said nine notices went out regarding this item with two returned in favor. A sample of the material Koscielniak is going to use was shown to the Commission.
Commissioner Joe Crow was absent from the meeting.

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Posted by on Sep 23 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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