Montgomery considers variances, special-use permits for private projects

Council Member John Champagne speaks to a citizen at the Montgomery City Council's regular meeting Dec. 10. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Council Member John Champagne speaks to a citizen at the Montgomery City Council's regular meeting Dec. 10. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)

Council Member John Champagne speaks to a citizen at the Montgomery City Council's regular meeting Dec. 10. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)

Montgomery City Council heard complaints and explanations from citizens regarding variances and special-use permits for various private properties across the city.



Worsham worries



At its regular meeting Dec. 10, council rejected a variance for Dan and Christine Walker at 607 Worsham St. Walker told council he and his wife bought the property to retire on and did not know there was a required permit for putting a garden shed on his property. The shed is already on the property, but they were applying for a variance retroactively because the shed is larger than the city allows.



The issue sparked strong comments from neighbors, some of whom spoke in defense of Walker’s construction and others who asked the council to reject the variance.



“We all have laws, and we all have rules, and we have to live by them,” neighbor Merriam Walker said. “If you’re gonna do something different on your property, you need to go through the proper channels and get it approved.”



Council Member John Bickford, who previously lived at the location, said he could not allow the variance because the owner did not do his due diligence. Council Member John Champagne agreed and said although he “hates” government interfering with a private citizen’s own property, because Walker was unable to work something out with his neighbors, the council must step in.



“We have laws for a reason,” Champagne said. “If we don’t want to enforce them, get rid of them. But if they’re there, enforce them.”



Bickford, Champagne and Council Member Tom Cronin voted to reject the variance. Council Members Rebecca Huss and T.J. Wilkerson voted against rejecting to variance.



Moving the moon to Montgomery



Council also unanimously approved a special-use permit for Larry and Beverly Jacobs at 1062 Clepper St. The Jacobs plan to build 14 cottages for short-term rentals called Moon Over Montgomery.



The permit closely resembles the city’s current laws surrounding bed-and-breakfasts, though Bickford and Champagne asked for two caveats: that a change of ownership of the permit must be approved by council and the cottages must be exactly like the ones presented in the Jacobs’ designs.



“There’s nothing keeping him from moving in trailers and calling them cottages,” Champagne said.



Water, community fees and speeding




  • Michael Williams, the vice president of operations for Gulf Service Utility, the city’s water operator, said the city had a 71% accountability with its water in October, the lowest in the last year. However, Williams said this number comes before the Montgomery Public Works Department located a leak by Kroger.

  • Council approved new rental fees for the Community Building and park pavilions. For pavilions, individuals or groups can rent a park pavilion for $50. The community building requires a $150 security deposit and can be rented for $125 for a six-hour time block or $250 all day. City Administrator Richard Tramm said Montgomery-based nonprofits and groups would be given preference and a potential discount.

  • A citizen complained about speeding on Bois D'Arc Bend, and police Chief Anthony Solomon said as part of his initiatives for the new year, officers will be patrolling some target areas for speeding.

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By 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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