Main Street to get utility improvements

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By Joe Southern
Infrastructure projects took a front seat May 28 during a meeting of the Sealy City Council.
The council awarded a $3,136,540 bid to Vaca Underground Utilities to do the Main Street water line project, including two alternatives. The project will repair or replace outdated water lines under Main Street and also other utilities as necessary as long as the street is uncovered. According to Kelly Hajek of Stroud and Associates, the bids came in higher due to the rising cost of asphalt and the inclusion of the alternatives.
“We’re doing something we really need. We should press on,” said councilmember Larry Koy.
“We’ve learned that the longer you delay the higher the price goes,” said councilmember Dee Anne Lerma.
“This was one of our priorities,” noted Mayor Janice Whitehead.
The council also discussed the drainage channel outfall on San Felipe Road. Three affected property owners talked about the drainage that runs across their properties. The city would like to have an easement that allows it to come in and keep the ditch clear. Gilbert Bassett said he didn’t want to give the city the right to come in and dig a ditch.
“I just want the city to clean it out, you don’t have to dig it,” he said.
Miguel Villafranca said he wants the ditch on his property left alone. An easement would divide the two tracts he has in half.
“I love this city and I love my land the way it is,” he said.
He said he has owned the land for 22 years and that that natural flow of the ditch “makes a beautiful piece of property.”
Councilmember Jennifer Sullivan said she didn’t think the city needed a 65-foot easement. She suggested about 20 feet “to clear out trees and roots.”
Koy said the city needs some kind of legal mechanism to allow it to come onto private property to keep the drainage ditch clear.
“In the old days you could slip in and do it without anyone complaining,” he said.
The residents noted that the city used to do the work but quit several years ago. As a result, trees, brush, and roots have clogged the ditch and water now backs up onto San Felipe Road.
The city will have staff look into the matter some more and address it again at the next council meeting.

Jake brakes
The city council approved the first of two readings on an ordinance that would prohibit the use of engine brakes, or Jake brakes, in the city despite the police chief calling the ordinance unenforceable.
“Unless you’re right there beside it, it’s going to be very difficult to enforce it,” Chief Jay Reeves said.
He said trucks that use the brakes cause loud noise, but proving which truck caused the violation can be very difficult. The council opted to move ahead with the ordinance and, if passed on the next reading, will result in signs being placed at all entrances to the city.

Parking on Schmidt Road
Several residents living on or near Schmidt Road addressed the council regarding a proposed ordinance that would prohibit parking along the narrow road. There is concern that parking could become a problem once a proposed apartment complex is built there.
“The road just isn’t big enough to accommodate parking,” Teresa Henry said.
The residents asked that in addition to banning parking on Schmidt that it also be banned on connecting Acres Lane and the portions of Svinky Road that are in the city limits.
The ordinance will be re-written to include the other roads and presented at the next council meeting.

Dove Tail Crossing
The Sealy Economic Development Commission plans to spend about $300,000 to extend utilities to the 45-acre site where the 120-house Dove Tail Crossing subdivision is proposed to be built. SEDC Executive Director Robert Worley said the expenditure meets all the legal requirements, as in addition to helping bring in much-needed housing to the community, it also opens up additional land to development once the utilities are extended to the site near FM 3538 and FM 3013.
The property is up for annexation into the city. The city council will hold two public hearings on the annexation at city hall. The first will be held July 2 at 6 p.m. and the second July 16 at 6 p.m.

Meeting dates change
The city council formally changed the dates of its regular meetings. They will now be held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month rather than the second and fourth. Meeting times remain at 6 p.m. The request was made by the city attorney, who had conflicts with the former times. The change takes place in June, with the first meeting on June 4.

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