Montgomery Planning and Zoning Commission discusses potential city developments

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The city of Montgomery may begin several development projects around town, including a new police station, street and drainage renovations and an outdoor entertainment park.

The Montgomery Planning and Zoning Commission heard a report from former City Administrator Jack Yates at its June 24 meeting. Yates said there are several projects the city must take on next year.

”What I’m proposing is to [approach] it from the standpoint of what we really need and then figure out how to finance it,” Yates said.

The list of proposed projects included improvements to the downtown streetscape, street and drainage improvements, a new police station next to City Hall, an outdoor entertainment park and several traffic improvements. However, Yates said this list was not complete and was merely a list of example projects that could be altered or modified.

“This is not where we’re gonna wind up, this is just something to use as a starting point,” Yates said.

Yates presented three options for funding: a three-year plan with the city and the Montgomery Economic Development Committee making payments each year, a nine-month plan allocated for by the 2019-20 budget or a nine-month plan funded by a general obligation bond approved by voters in November or May.

The first option is not ideal due to the prolonged disruption of downtown businesses, according to Yates. He said the second option is also difficult because, although the city has grown in the past several years, the budget has only grown marginally to accommodate city services, not large-scale projects.

“The problem [with the first option] is its torn up for three years and people don’t see improvements for three years,” Yates said. “The problem with [the second option] is that’s not all that the city needs, all that does is pay for the downtown streetscape.”

Yates favored the third option but because an election would cost the city approximately $10,000 indicated the city could borrow through a certificate of obligation instead of a bond. He recommended if the city chooses the certificate route, several public hearings should be held to ensure public support.

Yates also said the city could do short-term borrowing using bank notes and simply borrow a certain amount each year, paying it off the same year.

Commission member Arnette Easley said the city would have to be aware of the economic effects such projects would have on nearby business owners. Commission member William Simpson said the top priority would be keeping city services available for Montgomery citizens.

“We do need improvements, and this is a good start, but I think if you go find all the taxpayers they’re gonna say the city services are the most important,” Simpson said.

Simpson suggested creating a committee of downtown business owners and residents of the historical district to give their input on the plan.

The committee discussed several details of the proposed projects but agreed further input from the community was most important. Yates presented his plan to Montgomery City Council on June 24.

Businesses and trees

In other June 24 news, the commission approved two requests from local businesses. Real estate office One Property Group was allowed to hang a 40-square-foot sign on its historical building at 302 John Butler St., Montgomery. The architectural designs of Best Donuts, located at 20998 Eva St., Montgomery, were also approved.

The commission also considered the new tree ordinance. Assistant to the City Administrator Dave McCorquodale originally presented the plans to City Council on June 11 and presented additional plans to the committee to recommend to the council. The main difference between the current ordinance and the proposed ordinance is determining required trees based on canopy coverage, not caliper inches, or trunk circumference.

The commission voted to recommend the plan to City Council, which will consider action on the plan at its June 25 meeting.

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Andy Li
Originally from Boone, North Carolina, Andy Li is a graduate of East Carolina University with degrees in Communication with a concentration in journalism and Political Science. While in school, he worked as a performing arts reporter, news, arts and copy editor and a columnist at the campus newspaper, The East Carolinian. He also had the privilege to work with NPR’s Next Generation Radio, a project for student journalists exploring radio news. Moving to Houston in May 2019, he now covers the Conroe Independent School District, Montgomery City Council and transportation.
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