Streets remained a popular topic at the Devine City Council meeting on April 20, which also saw Council extend its COVID-19 public health emergency declaration and reimburse the Cannon family for a variance request fee.
Former Public Works Director Ismael Carrillo, who retired in December 2020 but is helping the City with the upcoming street repairs, presented a preliminary cost of $361,627 for the work based on information obtained from Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jerry Beck, whose road crew will be performing the repairs.
Beck said that the numbers were figured high.
“We’re figuring it high, and that gives us a rough idea, then we come in, get the actual numbers and the actual footage and the actual widths and all this other stuff, your numbers are going to go down,” Beck said.
A motion by District 2 Councilman Steve Lopez and District 1 Councilman Rufino “Flipper” Vega to table action on the street repairs passed unanimously with support from District 3 Councilman David Espinosa, District 4 Councilwoman Kathy Lawler, and District 5 Councilwoman Debra Randall.
The repairs are still scheduled to begin this summer.
Public Health Emergency Declaration
Emergency Management Coordinator/Public Works Director Rob Flores said that the general consensus among municipalities is to maintain the public health emergency declarations initially issued last year in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“So I would recommend the same,” Flores said. “Just what we’re doing with the City buildings and the employees.”
Masks are required in City buildings.
Resident Josh Ritchey suggested letting City workers remove their masks while working to reduce concern of bacterial pneumonia from dirty masks, and Flores confirmed that they are allowed to do so.
A Lawler-Randall to extend the public health emergency declaration until May 18 passed 5-0.
The disaster declaration issued on February 12 in response to the snowstorm was allowed to expire as it was no longer necessary.
Variance fee reimbursement
In November 2020, Jeffrey and Summer Cannon were granted a variance allowing them to keep roosters on behalf of their son, who has medical issues including severe anxiety and who has bonded with the roosters (see “Council approves variance allowing child to keep roosters” in the Dec. 2 edition of the News).
Included with the Cannons’ request was a letter from Licensed Professional Counselor Kandi Morris, who wrote that the Cannons’ son “meets the definition of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,” and asked that the family be allowed to keep the roosters, Nitro and Jack, as they are a source of emotional support.
Randall, who represents the Cannons in District 5 and was the sole member of Council to vote against the variance, said that Summer Cannon had given her a letter that she had since passed on to Interim City Administrator Dora Rodriguez, and that Randall did not recall seeing before.
“In this letter, it states from the doctor that the rooster Nitro was an emotional support animal,” Randall said. “And now knowing that, I’m requesting the Council to refund their variance fee of $50.00, because it is a tad illegal to charge a fee for emotional support animals, and that’s a federal law.”
A Randall-Vega motion to refund the Cannons’ $50.00 variance request fee passed 5-0.
West Malone Dr. speed limit
Randall said that the majority of residents on W. Malone Dr. want speed humps and to see the speed limit reduced to 25 miles per hour.
Ritchey said it was unrealistic for the police department to be able to catch every instance of speeding, and put forward the idea of installing more speed humps around town in conjunction with the upcoming street repairs.
Mayor Cory Thompson said that since the agenda item under discussion was specific to W. Malone Dr., Council members would need to return to their districts and gauge interest on the matter.
Lopez asked if it was possible that owners of vehicles damaged by speed humps could file insurance claims against the City, and City Attorney Tom Cate said it was a possibility.
Cate also reminded Council of the 10-hour traffic study done on Malone Dr. by the police department that did not result in any speeding infractions.
“Again, I’m just throwing it out there, that there wasn’t a need to reduce it lower than 30 [mph],” Cate said.
A Randall-Vega motion to install three speed humps and reduce the speed limit to 25 mph passed 5-0.
Airport fuel farm
A Lopez-Randall motion to approve recertification for the fuel farm and amend the budget passed 5-0.
Look for an article about the fuel farm in next week’s edition of the News.
Council unanimously adopted Resolution 4-21A to deny AEP’s rate increase and join other municipalities served by AEP to hire the law firm of Lloyd Gosselink to fight the rate increase, and unanimously approved staying at the default rate for right-of-way line access.
The next Regular City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 18.
By Marly Davis