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Mayor loses battle for commercial zone

City-of-Mission-logoMission City Council rejected a proposed zone change in the Melba Carter Subdivision on Monday that would have changed property use from residential to commercial over protests from Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas.

The proposed business involved a site where storage units, commercial trucks and trailers could be left for periods of time in the subdivision, which sits between Conway Avenue and the Mission Industrial Park south of Expressway 83.

“Some members of the council just do not understand,” Salinas said, “That one business would have provided up to 20 jobs for Mission residents.”

After the meeting, Salinas said when the Melba Carter Subdivision was created, it was supposed to be for commercial usage, not residential, in spite of the fact there were a couple of homes in the area. However, when the lots did not sell for commercial purposes, a previous council allowed people to buy lots for residential purposes, he said.

“This should have never happened,” Salinas said. “We do not need to have residential subdivisions in the industrial area.”

The request was discussed in depth by the Mission Planning and Zoning Commission, which gave its approval to the commercial business being located in the subdivision after discussion, in spite of the neighborhood objections.

At the council meeting, the residents were represented by attorney Mario Rodriguez, who told the council the lot was in the middle of a residential subdivision and located on a street where children played.

Rodriguez said some of the homes had been in that location since the 1940s and although some of the lots located closest to the abutting industrial park had been rezoned for commercial, the major portion of the area is residential. The residents did not have the means to move to other locations.

Salinas said the Future Land Use Map called for the area to turn to light industrial usage and asked the council to approve the request even though the lot was in the middle of a residential subdivision.

After Rodriguez spoke, Councilman Armando O’Caña told the mayor 24 percent of the owners had expressed objections to the rezoning. He suspected there were other absentee owners who might also object to the requested zoning change. Some of the homeowners pre-existed the city in that area, he said.

A vote resulted in a 3-2 in favor of the motion. However, because 24 percent of the residents protested the change, four out of five votes were needed to pass the motion.

Salinas said Mission Economic Development Corporation might have to look at some sort of purchase of the property since “some councilmen simply did not understand the value of having the property rezoned commercial or industrial.”

Other business

In other action, the council approved Resolution 1384 modifying the current city parks district system by providing for creation of four park districts within the four quadrants of the city with Conway Avenue and Business 83 as the dividing lines. Previously there were six districts. Parks and Recreation Department Director Julian Gonzalez said the six districts had been needed in the past to qualify for certain grants but at this time it made more sense to have just four park districts within the city.

The final action plan for 2014-15 for Community Development Block Grant allocations was approved. Those receiving funding include the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council area Agency on Aging, $10,000; Amigos Del Valle $32,000; Silver Ribbons, $3875; Easter Seals Society, $3875. Other organizations include Dentists Who Care, $10,000; Children’s Advocacy Center, $10,000; and Habitat for Humanity, $100,000. Administration and Project Delivery was funded at $197,689.

As recommended by HUD, the Community Advisory Board set up guidelines providing clarification on rehabilitation/reconstruction projects where lead-based paint has been determined to be a problem. New guidelines were also established for those who need minor assistance for owners of manufactured housing who need immediate improvements such as roofs, ramps and interior repairs.

Also, new insurance providers for the city were established for the coming year. BlueCross BlueShield will provide the group health insurance self-funded program at a projected savings of $100,000 for the city. Dearborn National will provide group life insurance, voluntary life insurance and long-term disability. Humana will provide dental while Avesis will provide vision. Colonial will administer the cafeteria plan and provide voluntary products such as accident, cancer, short-term disability, hospital confinement and critical illness coverage to city employees. Deputy City Manager Aida Lerma told the council many hours had been spent to find the best possible coverage for employees at the best possible rates.

A variance to the city’s sign code was approved for Texas Regional Bank to be located at 2306 E. Griffin Parkway. The variance will allow installation of a new 62-square-foot sign while the maximum square footage allowed in the code is 40 square feet. Staff did not object based on the proximity to a five-lane thoroughfare.

The council approved an interlocal agreement with the City of McAllen and County of Hidalgo to include Palmhurst, concerning certain improvement to be made on Taylor Road from U.S. Expressway 83 to a point 1,300 feet north to Lark Avenue (Mile 4 Road). Mission will serve as the fiduciary agent for the project. The total cost of the first phase is estimated to be $1,170,000, of which Mission will contribute $390,000.

The council approved several budget amendments. One will provide funding for 76 streetlights to be installed along Bentsen Palm Road and Military Highway. Another will provide $240,000 to overlay Keralum Street, which was damaged during the construction of the St. Marie-Keralum Storm Drainage Project.

In a related item, a reimbursement agreement between Mission Redevelopment Authority/Reinvestment Zone Number One and the city was approved in an amount not to exceed $140,000 for the lights for the streetlights was approved.

The Mission Police Department was authorized to accept the 2015 Comprehensive Selective Traffic Enforcement Program Grant from the Texas Department of Transportation in the amount of $107,482.03. The funds will be used to increase seat belt enforcement, speed enforcement and DWI enforcement in the city. An in-kind match will require submission of paperwork showing hours of work by policemen amounting to $26,914.23 for the STEP program.

Funding for the continuation of the Educational Resource Officer program in the Sharyland Independent School District was approved in the amount of $286,480, which will fund six officers.

Councilwoman Norie Garza was once again elected mayor pro-tem to assume the duties of the mayor in his absence or disability.

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