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Mission approves controversial permit

MISSION — A conditional use permit to allow the construction of an events center along East Griffin Parkway was approved by Mission city leaders this week despite opposition from business owners in the area.

Aaron Balli, who owns and operates Balli's Social & Event Center at 1620 E. Griffin Parkway, submitted a permit request to construct a new building for a nearby dance hall on portions of two lots in the same commercial subdivision. The proposed building would also take in a smaller lot shown on plats as a 12-foot wide “common area,” which is situated between two lots that Balli now owns. The common area apparently was designated for a possible future sidewalk when the subdivision was originally platted. However, Balli said he now owns that lot, along with the two lots adjacent to it where he plans to construct his building. The proposed building would be over 7,000 square feet, plus a second floor.

Mario Ornelas, owner of Mario’s Banquet & Conference Center, and Melchor Chavez, another property owner in the same commercial subdivision, had objections to the proposal.

Chavez said the design of the Stewart Village Subdivision, where the business is located, was set in 1991 to protect the value of the businesses there. He objected to the sidewalk being taken away, as it was part of the common area designed in the subdivision. Likewise, Ornelas said that removing the 12-foot common area where the sidewalk between the lots was located was against the law.

Additionally, the subdivision codes don’t allow two-story, Chavez said.

Ornelas said it would take a much larger parking lot than what Balli owned to serve the needs of the proposed dance hall. However, Mission Planning and Zoning Director Sergio Zavala said the parking at Stewart Village Subdivision is considered to be a common parking area and there were over 500 spaces available. According to city staff, code requires that 73 parking spaces be available for the proposed building.

Ciro Ochoa Jr., attorney for Balli, said his client purchased the property from the bank and the subdivision had no architectural or owners committee regulating what happened to the property if someone wanted to change the design. He also said Ornelas had taken in a 27-foot common area when he built his building several years ago and that Ornelas’ building is a two-story building.

Attorney David Guerra told the Mission City Council it was not the obligation of the council to enforce subdivision regulations. Their job is to enforce city code and the only one under consideration was to grant a variance to the 300-foot separation between the businesses and nearby residences.

The council approved Balli’s request with Councilwoman Norie Garza’s suggestion of adding a sidewalk along the north side of Balli’s proposed building to replace the sidewalk area being abandoned.

Mayor Norberto Salinas told Chavez and Ornelas that the place to object to non-compliance issues with subdivision covenants and restrictions is in district court.

New Public Zone Approved

In other zoning action, the council approved a new “public zone,” which will replace the current institutional zone. The institutional zone includes “a non-profit organization or building, public or private for the benefit of the public, or educational facilities, churches, temples, hospitals, clubs, fire stations, police stations, libraries, museums and city offices.”

The new zone will include city parks and public parking lots, drainage ponds larger than one acre and water tower sites. It will not include public utility properties such as lift station sites, regional drainage ditches or current canal systems.

Also approved was the city’s new landscaping ordinance, which states that landscaping must be kept in healthy condition or replaced within 60 days of city notice. In residential areas one tree is required for every 60 feet of lot frontage. Apartments require a minimum of two trees. In commercial areas, trees are required for every 30 feet of lot width. For institutional settings, trees are required for every 50 feet of lot width. Eight-foot buffers are required between residential neighborhoods and commercial uses.

Garbage areas are to be buffered with six-foot solid masonry fence with opaque doors of metal or wood. Detention areas are to be landscaped with ornamental shade trees. The city will maintain a list of landscape materials recommended for use. Irrigation regulations provided by the city will comply with the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality regulations.

Council Proposes Lower Tax Rate

In other matters, the proposed tax rate for 2012-2013 was set at $0.5288 per $100 valuation, a one-cent drop from last year. However, the new tax rate will not be officially adopted until public hearings are held, as required by law. Public hearings on the tax rate and the 2012-2013 budget will be held Aug. 27, and Sept. 4, at 4:30 p.m.

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CoverageAreaThe Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.

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