Sealy City Council decides on variances

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Sealy City Council held their regular meeting in a socially distanced room Tuesday, May 19 at 6 p.m. and denied a variance to Sealy ISD which would have allowed the district not to pave its overflow parking lot at T.J. Mills Stadium.

The variance decision was also in the affirmative to approve a variance at 525 Hardeman Street as well as to allow for an easement for a property located at 2078 Sally Gail Lane.

“Basically, the city came into an agreement with Sealy schools (and) they said they were going to do this parking lot. It was designed to be paved. It has drainage to be paved,” said former Sealy Mayor Nick Tirey during comments regarding the overflow parking lot. “The school also has $200,000 budgeted in case the variance doesn’t pass to pave the parking lot.”

Variances

Tirey also said the district has a stadium worth about a million dollars with a gravel parking lot which was part of why he spoke out against allowing a variance for the school. He said it would establish a precedent and a bad example for the way residents wanted the city to develop. He also said that having the gravel lot reduced accessibility to the facility for those with mobility impairments who might attend events at the school.

“In my mind’s eye, if (Sealy City Council) allows the variance and for them to get away with it, who’s to say the next apartment developer won’t say, ‘Hell, I don’t have to pave it, the school didn’t,'" Tirey said.

City staff briefed council as well and indicated that the paving project at the stadium did not meet the criteria for a permanent variance. The first piece of criteria was time to make the improvements that would not apply to a permanent variance. The second was that the land’s condition would not cause injury to individuals if a variance was permitted, which is unknown. Finally, the variance would need to avoid detracting from the city’s appearance and maintenance overall as well as compliance with general ordinances.

Staff also noted that a paved parking lot would not deteriorate and cause problems as quickly as a gravel lot.

“The understanding (at the time the initial two-year variance was issued) was that – from council and staff – was that they were going to pave this (parking lot) and it hasn’t happened," city staff said.

The variance was eventually voted down after discussion among city council members.

A variance was however authorized for the property located at 2078 Sally Gail Lane. Bruce Inman, a representative of the property owner, said the lot, which is deed restricted for one single-family home, was effectively landlocked with private property on all sides. He said an easement would allow the property owner to establish a driveway for the property.

Meanwhile, the variance for the Hardin Street address was quickly approved which will simply allow the homeowners to replace their porch.

Parks and Rec

Council members postponed a decision on whether to hold Sealybration until its next meeting in early June to allow more information to come from Tex. Gov. Greg Abbott’s office with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic and status of social distancing and related restrictions, city staff said during a briefing on the status of parks and recreational facilities in the city.

The city pool and splash pad will remain closed until further notice and event halls will remain closed at least through June, staff said.

However, B&PW, Sealy Skate and the Jacqueline A. Cryan Memorial parks will all be open staff said. Restrooms at those facilities will remain closed due to a lack of staff to clean them hourly, as would be required, staff said.

Baseball fields are expected to open June 15, though attendees at the council meeting noted that Little League has been canceled for this coming summer.

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