Jersey Village City Council adopts comprehensive plan

The Jersey Village city council formally adopted its comprehensive plan into a city ordinance at its monthly meeting on Feb. 15. The plan, which was last updated in 1989, serves as a blueprint lays the foundation for future improvements and prioritizes projects that shape the physical and economic characteristics of the city.

“I think this is an excellent, visionary document and I think it will encapsulate the growth and the upward trajectory that this community is on,” Mayor Justin Ray said. “It’s a great opportunity for [Jersey Village] to harness that [growth], build for a better future and continue to make Jersey Village a destination. I’m very much excited for this.”

Jersey Village began developing a new comprehensive plan in spring 2014.

The 14-month process incorporated the work of city council members, consulting firm Freese and Nichols, as well as a citizen and council led advisory committee. Feedback from city council workshops, public hearings, town hall meetings, online forums and citizen surveys were all incorporated into the plan, Ray said.

With 53 total recommendations, the comprehensive plan calls for the coordination of economic development activities, encouragement of family-oriented retail, restaurant and entertainment opportunities, development of new parks and amenities and the improvement of community landscaping.

Some priority recommendations include updating the city’s pool facility with new equipment, slides and a potential splash pad, revitalizing the Hwy. 290 corridor, and creating and landscape master plan to help design city corridors and entrances.

The plan started with 153 recommendations from Freese and Nichols and was narrowed down to 53 recommendations.

“I would like to commend the city council because I feel they really rolled up their sleeves and looked at these recommendations in thorough detail,” Freese and Nichols consultant Shad Comeaux said. “There are some cities who just look at the plan and put it on the shelf, but it seems like [this council] really want to take some action moving forward.”

The plan will be reviewed by a special committee as often as needed, Ray said, but the ordinance dictates it must be reviewed at least every four years.

“We wanted to institutionalize the plan into a formal process of budget review so that it cannot be ignored,” City Manger Mike Castro said.

At the meeting, several citizens expressed concerns that the trail system envisioned within the comprehensive plan would violate the property rights of homeowners with land near proposed trails.

Council stated, however, that no recommendations listed on the comprehensive plan would be implemented without further discussion from city council and financial and zoning approval from the city.

“We decided to put things in a plan understanding that it’s not an end-all-be-all," council member Andrew Mitcham said. "If we adopt [the plan], we’re not going to pick up our shovels and start building a trail or start extending a street. Each one of these items is going to be on future agendas, and everybody will have the chance to speak or send us emails about whether you like [the project] or don’t.”

Red light cameras

City council also approved an ordinance at the Feb. 15 meeting allowing a May 7 special election for residents to vote on a potential red light camera ban.

Council added the ordinance to the February agenda after citizens presented city secretary Lorri Coody with a Jan. 18 petition to permanently ban red light cameras from the city.

The petition required signatures from at least 5 percent of registered voters in Jersey Village, Coody said. On Jan. 19, city officials calculated the petition surpassed the amount of signatures needed to be deemed valid.

“I think in the future all the citizens in Jersey Village should be given the opportunity to voice their opinions on the issues that touch them personally—such as these cameras—through either a city poll or by city vote,” Jersey Village resident Jim Pulliam said.