Council approves variances, replat in ETJ

By Bob Buckel | Published Wednesday, December 12, 2012

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The Decatur City Council Monday evening gave its approval to variances that allow a property owner to forego installing curb-and-gutter and sidewalks in a subdivision that sits just outside the city limits.

The council also OK’d letting the property owners, James and Connie Lamirand, replat a four-acre lot into two lots of approximately two acres each on Wild Horse Road, just off Deer Park Road in southwest Decatur.

The variances drew the most discussion, as the council has previously held the line on requiring homeowners to put in sidewalks or at least escrow the money to put them in at some future date. Although the Planning & Zoning Commission approved both variances, the vote was not unanimous. Commissioner Jim Eaton had voted against both requests.

The difference Monday night was spelled out by Planning Director Dedra Ragland.

“This is in the city’s ETJ (extraterritorial jurisdiction) where no sidewalks, curbs and gutters exist, and the city has expressed no interest in annexing this area,” she said.

City Manager Brett Shannon expanded on that.

“This subdivision has lots that are two, to 10, to 15 acres,” he said. “It’s not high on the city’s radar screen for annexation because the cost to extend utilities would be prohibitive for the number of taps we’d get.”

Shannon said this particular subdivision actually spurred changes to the city’s design standards which are currently being re-written.

“I’m a fan of curbs, gutters and sidewalks,” Mayor Martin Woodruff said. “But in this particular case I concur with the staff.”

Councilmember Jay Davidson said the only way annexation might make sense at some future time is if property to the west were annexed, essentially making the city surround the subdivision.

“Annexation might be feasible if in the future we annexed back around to the west of there, and we could extend utilities through this subdivision,” he said.

Property owners within 200 feet of the area were notified of the re-plat, according to city codes, and of 10 notices sent out, only three replied – and all three were in favor of it, according to Ragland.

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