Natalia City Council passes Ordinance, seats Council positions

Mayor Pro-Tem Sam Smith swears in Darin Frazier and Chip Bluemel.

The Natalia City Council passed a heavy truck Ordinance and swore in re-elected and newly-elected members at the Regular meeting held on Nov. 20.
Council members Chip Bluemel, Mike Fernandez, Tommy Ortiz, and Sam Smith were all present, as was City Administrator Lisa Hernandez.
Council member Ruben Juarez was absent.
Heavy truck Ordinance
“Because our streets are in disrepair, we can’t continue to allow heavy truck drivers on our streets,” Hernandez said.
There is an exception for merchant vehicles loading or unloading merchandise from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.
Hernandez wished to leave off a part of the Ordinance that allowed for heavy trucks without trailers attached to park on private property owned and occupied by the heavy truck driver.
“But then it still comes to the same condition,” Hernandez said. “They’re driving on the same street every day, to and from work. Of course it’s going to have wear and tear.”
Hernandez had initially included language for the possibility of a heavy truck route for a specific location, but that “it got a little complicated.”
“At this point in time, I would like to adopt the Ordinance just so we have something in place,” Hernandez said. “And if City Council really believes that we should have owners that own heavy trucks drive on the City streets to reach their private property, then we can come back and look at it and add it in at a later time, but it would be the same situation. Our streets aren’t wide enough and our utility lines aren’t deep enough.”
A Fernandez-Ortiz motion to approve the Ordinance passed unanimously.
Code Enforcement/Police Officer hired
Margaret Lee Martinez Fernandez was hired to fill multiple roles in the City, primarily as a police officer and Code Compliance officer
In addition to being a commissioned police officer and Code Compliance officer, Martinez Fernandez will also help with Animal Control.
Martinez Fernandez has 13 years of policing experience including stints at Edgewood ISD, North Side ISD, and Bexar County.
A Fernandez-Ortiz motion to approve Fernandez Martinez passed unanimously.
Property use
Ben Klassen, owner of property located at 21218 FM 471 S., was upset with the City because he wasn’t allowed to install a septic tank.
“I bought the property under the assumption that I could put in water, sewer, and electric,” Klassen said.
“No one in the City can put a septic tank in,” Smith said.
Klassen said his real estate agent had told him otherwise.
“They don’t have a clue,” Smith said. “People listen to real estate people, and they say wrong.”
Klassen claimed that five different people told him he could put in a septic tank, including Utility Director Art Smith, who denied having done so.
“Unfortunately, septic systems are not allowed,” Fernandez said. “We’re in the city.”
“Well, that’s what I was told after I bought the property and was going to start on it,” Klassen said.
Hernandez asked Klassen if he had purchased the property before 1983, and he said no.
“This Ordinance [prohibiting septic systems inside city limits] was adopted back in 1983,” Hernandez said.
“Well, that’s what you say now,” Klassen replied. “That’s not what I was told in the office.”
Fernandez asked Klassen why he didn’t want to connect to the city’s sewer system, and Klassen claimed that he planned to put an apartment complex on the property and was told by City officials during a meeting that he had to do a study on the sewer system, which “could barely handle it.”
“The findings that came out of that from our engineers was that you had to consult a grinding pump system with your property,” Hernandez said. “I don’t know why you would have done a study.”
A grinder pump is a wastewater transportation device. Wastewater is pumped from appliances to a grinder pump’s holding tank. When the waste reaches a predetermined level, the pump activates and grinds the waste into a slurry before pumping it into the central sewer system.
Bluemel also disagreed with Klassen’s recollection.
“I was here when we discussed it and the engineers and everything came in and all that we said was that it had to meet setback requirements, that there may also be TxDOT setback requirements,” Bluemel said. “All that was said at the time was that if y’all needed to hook up, y’all were going to have to bore underneath the highway to connect because the [sewer] main is on the other side.”
“And you couldn’t handle it,” Klassen said.
“And we said that you would have to look into a grinder system,” Bluemel added, “because it came up that because of an apartment complex being set up there–”
“You could handle it, barely, for that Christmas time,” Klassen interrupted.
“You couldn’t handle everybody home at Christmas,” Klassen’s wife added. “It could barely handle that.”
Klassen blew a raspberry at Council, and he and his wife left the meeting.
Medina County Appraisal District Board
The City had a total of 25 votes to cast for the Appraisal District Board, and voted unanimously to cast all of them for Roy Sheetz.
Council members sworn in
Bluemel, Ortiz, and Darin Frazier were all administered the oath of office after running unopposed in the Nov. General Election.
Bluemel retained his Council position, while Ortiz moved from Councilman to Mayor, and Frazier was elected to Council.
Council unanimously voted to have Smith retain his position as Mayor Pro-Tem.
One Council seat with a term ending in Nov. 2018 remains unfilled. Hernandez said that the seat can be kept vacant but recommended against it, as it is a voting position.
Nominees for the position will be discussed and considered at the next Council meeting, scheduled for Monday, Dec. 18 at 7:00 pm.
By Marly Davis
Staff Writer