Re-zoning in downtown Lytle proposed, storm water utility discussed, council asked to help fund “visitor’s center”

The Lytle City Council present a plaque to City Administrator Matthew Dear for 20 years of service as a police lieutenant and assistant fire marshal before taking the reins of city government. The council also voted to make Dear permanent city administrator, removing the word “interim” from his title in place since taking the job in May.

Scheduling of public hearings on proposed zoning amendments restricting the use of recreational vehicles and modular buildings in downtown Lytle received a go-ahead from the city council during its regular session Monday.
Regarding modular buildings, the council voted in February 2020 to create a new zoning district along Main Street that restricted the placement of mobile homes to certain areas, City Administrator Matthew Dear explained. However, that ordinance did not include modular-type buildings.
Extending the ordinance to include that type of construction requires again notifying residents potentially affected and conducting a new set of public hearings on the issue, Dear said.
If re-zoned, any pre-existing modular structure would be classified as “non-comforming,” meaning it would be allowed to remain but could not be expanded or enlarged, city attorney Jessie Lopez explained. If replaced, the new structure would need to comply with the ordinance.
District 4 Alderman Michael Rodriguez asked that any new ordinance be exact in defining the difference between a modular structure and a pre-fabricated building that would be allowed. On a motion by Rodriguez, seconded by District 3 Alderman David Emery, the council approved allowing the legal work to move forward on the amendment.
District 1 Alderman Joseph Morrow was absent from the Nov. 14 meeting.
With respect to recreational vehicles, Dear explained that a 2019 amendment to the zoning ordinance prohibited the use of mobile homes in certain commercial areas along Main Street. But the amendment did not specifically prohibit the use of recreational vehicles in those same areas.
As with the modular building issue, a revision defining zones RVs can be used along Main Street would require notification of affected businesses and public hearings to discuss the proposed changes before the council could vote.
Again, on motion by Rodriguez, the council approved moving forward with the proposed changes.
The council also voted to proceed on developing an amendment to the Lytle zoning and subdivision codes to establish requirements for on-site parking and garage requirements. Dear said the action would be aimed at “bigger, masterplan communities.”
Subdivisions without requirements for garages and ample driveway parking for at least several vehicles tend to develop problems with parking that blocks sidewalks and forces pedestrians into the street, several council members remarked.
“Do we want to paint the picture of what we want our community to look like or do we just want them to come in and build whatever they think we need,” Dear said.
In other action, the council voted to approve updating the city’s building regulations to adopt the latest editions of various national and international codes governing electrical, plumbing and construction work.
The code update comes several months after the council voted to update the local fire code to agree with the 2021 edition of the International Fire Code, Dear said. The city had previously been using the 2006 edition of the code.
“The building code and all the other codes we use for construction here in the city were based on the 2008 editions,” Dear said. “That’s pretty outdated so we needed to bring that up to the 2021 model.”
In certain ways, the updated codes are more lenient than the codes that had been in place, Dear said.
“I can tell as to the fire code what I saw in certain things allowed in the 2021 code weren’t allowed in the old 2006 version,” Dear said. Improvements in technology allowed the changes, he said.
The old codes adversely affected the Insurance Services Organization (ISO) rating which determines the cost of fire insurance for local homes and businesses, Dear said.
“Once we get these (updates) adopted we can contact ISO and they will bring our rate down,” he said.
On a motion by Emery, seconded by District 2 Alderman Sam Cortez, the council approved adopting the updated standards.
On a motion by Rodriguez, seconded by Emery, the council voted to award a $34,900 administrative services agreement with the grant management firm GrantWorks to obtain a Texas Community Development Block Grant.
The grant would be used for flood mitigation and drainage planning, Dear said.
The council also voted to authorize Dear to negotiate an engineering services agreement with San Antonio-based Kimley Horn for development of a drainage master plan for the Lake Shore Estates Subdivision.
Some council members questioned if it would be better to include the Lake Shore drainage plan under the overall city drainage plan under discussion.
“I do believe that if we fix drainage issues in Lake Shore it’s going to cause issues downstream,” Dear said.
However, Emery urged immediate action on the Lake Shore issue rather than wait an additional two years or more to complete the overall city plan.
“They have been waiting and suffering for this for years,” Emery said.
Dear was also authorized to negotiate with Kimley Horn for engineering services to establish a municipal storm water utility in Lytle. Added to the monthly utility bill of Lytle residents, the storm water utility is something common to most cities, Dear said.
“Once we get the utility established by ordinance everyone gets to pay into it monthly,” he said. “It’s an assessment on your property. Then we can use those funds to mitigate storm water and do drainage in the city.”
The Lytle Chamber of Commerce asked for the city’s annual participation of $35,000 in a proposed visitor center to offer information about lesser known offerings and events within the community. The presentation by Dear said the center would “offer a feedback mechanism from the community and visitor to help improve appeal.”
Total cost for the visitor center is estimated at $72,669 annually. Cost of one employee to staff the center is estimated at $52,525.
Dear said the city staff is frequently too busy to assist visitors seeking out tourist information. Funding the center would be on a year-by-year basis just as the city’s participation in Little League.
“Our staff is already busy doing other things such as processing bills and taking care of customers,” Dear said.
On a motion by Emery, the council approved participating in the project using monies from the hotel occupancy tax.
After a brief executive session to discuss pending litigation and purchase of property the council voted to allow the city administrator to acquire property discussed in closed session.