ETJ swap, new jobs and more: 8 takeaways from this week’s New Braunfels City Council meeting

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Although Monday night’s New Braunfels City Council meeting lasted less than two hours, the agenda covered several items of concern for residents.

Before diving into the action agenda, CenterPoint Energy presented a $2,500 safety grant to the city’s fire department that will go toward the purchase of a wireless communication system.

“Essentially what this does is allows them to operate a radio inside a fully capsulated hazmat suit without having to pull their arms out of the suit,” Assistant Fire Chief Patrick O’Connell said, referring to a hazardous materials suit.

Nelda Juarez, CenterPoint’s South Texas district director, said the organization cites safety as its No. 1 core value and has provided 848 community partnership grants totaling $1.5 million during the past 15 years.

During the meeting, the City Council also discussed the following:

1. New Braunfels-Seguin ETJ swap

City Planning Director Christopher Looney updated the City Council on discussions between New Braunfels and Seguin to swap portions of their extraterritorial jurisdiction—or ETJ—areas.

Seguin is interested in several large agricultural tracts that are proposed for development. Although the properties fall within the New Braunfels ETJ, Seguin provides fire and emergency medical services to them.

Looney said the city looked at location, utilities, future land use and future roadway connection and then tried to identify logical boundaries, particularly in consideration to property lines and streets.

In exchange, New Braunfels could receive some tracts on an east-west roadway near FM725 that extends to Lake McQueeney, which would provide clarity to some property owners. Some tracts at the intersection of FM758 and Hwy. 123 are also on the table.

“The significance of this is it would allow New Braunfels to implement a regional thoroughfare plan, which is also soon to be updated, which we anticipate would include a significant intersection here at FM758 and [Hwy.] 123 that could potentially be part of an east-west connector and Guadalupe River bridge crossing, ultimately,” Looney said.

Looney recommended proceeding to work with Seguin on the development of an agreement that would ultimately be brought to the council for recommendation.

2. Titan Industrial Park expansion

The City Council approved a resolution recommended by the New Braunfels Economic Development Corporation to provide up to $600,000 in financial incentives to Titan New Braunfels Industrial LLC, for infrastructure improvements, including water, wastewater, electric utilities and roadway infrastructure necessary to develop new or expanded business enterprises at the industrial park on FM 1102.

Economic Development Director Victor Garza said the site, which is anchored by polymer products supplier CGT, is looking to add 612,950 square feet of building space to incorporate a mix of spec buildings and spaces for possible tenants that are eyeing the property.

Once implemented, Garza said there will be a little more room to expand in the park, but a need for public participation would not be expected.

3. Incentives for Season Group USA to create 200 local jobs

Season Group, a global electrical components manufacturer, is planning to launch a new facility in New Braunfels, adding additional employment opportunities. After receiving approval from the City Council, the city will provide job grants in the amount of $2,500 per position that will cap off at $500,000—or 200 jobs.

According to Scott Hitt, Season Group’s operations director for the United States and Mexico, the company is planning for significant growth during the next three to five years.

“We feel New Braunfels is a unique location where we can pull some of the more technical and professional talent down from Austin due to the quality of life available in New Braunfels,” Hitt said.

High-tech circuit board assembly is at the core of Season Group’s operations, and the average salary the company will offer at its New Braunfels location is $28,200—less than half of the New Braunfels median household income.

Garza told the City Council that although the salaries are at the lower end of community salaries, they are on the higher end for jobs requiring the circuit board assembly skill set.

“The eventual goal will be to get those higher-level paying jobs,” including sales and design, Garza said.

4. The first reading of Envision New Braunfels comprehensive plan

The City Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance adopting the city’s new comprehensive plan.

The guide will serve as a nonregulatory, overarching framework that will help shape long-range policies.

New Braunfels Chamber President Michael Meek addressed the council regarding the plan, pointing out the past three comprehensive plans were adopted in 1964, 1977 and 2000.

“What you are doing this evening is very momentous,” Meek said. “It doesn’t happen every day. It doesn’t happen every five to 10 years. In fact, this happens generationally.”

The plan could receive final approval after the second reading Aug. 27.

“It’s well-thought-out, well-put-together and reflective I think of what we want to be as a city,” said Mayor Pro Tem Wayne Peters after making the motion to approve the item.

5. Issuing $8.3 million in certificates of obligation

The City Council approved the issuance of two certificates of obligation totaling $8.3 million.

Under the terms, the New Braunfels EDC will pay the annual debt service payment for the life of the loan, which provides a $5.8 million contribution to the city’s new recreation center and $2.5 million for turf and lighting improvements at New Braunfels ISD athletic fields.

The city’s Chief Financial Officer Jared Werner said the agreement allows the New Braunfels EDC to take advantage of the city’s current credit rating, which provides a lower interest rate and, in turn, lowers the annual payment.

6. Acquiring land on Klein Road

During the meeting, the first public hearing took place regarding the annexation of approximately 154 acres of land on the southeast corner of the intersection at FM1044 and Klein Road. The annexation would also include the Klein Road right of way that falls adjacent to the existing city limits. Looney said the item required no further action during the meeting.

7. Roadway impact fee policy adoption

The City Council approved a resolution adopting the city’s policies and procedures for obtaining and applying offsets and credits against roadway impact fees. The item was first introduced at the July 9 City Council meeting.

Impact fees are a mechanism for funding new development, which reduces taxpayer burden. The policies and procedures for offsets and credits will supplement the city’s roadway impact fee ordinance.

“The intent is to provide clarity and to assist staff in processing these requests,” City Engineer Garry Ford said, adding more information will be available on the city website this week.

8. Priorities for 2019 legislative session

City Manager Robert Camareno notified the City Council that priorities it would like to see taken into consideration for the 2019 legislative session would be due to the Texas Municipal League at 5 p.m. Aug. 27—just before the next City Council meeting.

Camareno said city staff is working on compiling priority items, which are likely to include appraisal caps, revenue caps and short-term rental policies.

A draft document will be provided to all council members prior to the deadline, Camareno said.

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Rachel Nelson
Rachel Nelson is editor of the New Braunfels edition of Community Impact Newspaper. She covers local business, new development, city and county government, health care, education and transportation. Rachel relocated to Central Texas from Amarillo in 2009 and is a graduate of Texas State University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
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