HOUSTON – The Houston Board of Aldermen voted to reopen the city-owned buildings after about a year of being drive thru and curbside only due to the pandemic.

The discussion was sparked when the subject of reopening the community house and the civic center was brought up.

Ward 3 alderman Frank Thomas made the motion to reopen the buildings and Alderman At Large Barry Springer seconded it.

The motion passed.

After the vote on that, Ward 1 Alderlady Kellie Atkinson brought up City Hall and the Library, and sparked a discussion about reopening them to the pubic, instead of drive thru, or by appointment in the case of the library.

“I don't know why we wouldn't open them,” said Springer.

The motion to reopen the library and City Hall and require masks inside the building was made by Thomas and seconded by Willie McKinney.

The motion passed by a count of 4 yes, one no. Atkinson voted no, and she said that she was in favor of reopening them, but she was against requiring masks.

The library is now open, however, they are still offering curbside service for those who are uncomfortable coming in. 

They are also assisting with vaccination appointments and scheduling them, anyone who is interested can come in or call, they are urged to contact the library for more information. 

Lastly, they are offering grab and go book bags for preschool and homeschool children that have learning materials and books and such. 

Aldermen also:

– Held a public hearing about rescinding ordinance 1982-3, which allows mobile homes to be placed on property labeled A-1 automatically without the consent of the board. Since the dissolving of the zoning board, the Board of Aldermen has assumed responsibility of zoning decisions in the city. With the rescinding of this ordinance, those wishing to place mobile homes on these properties would first have to get the consent of the board, and if the property is in an area that has never had a mobile home, it will not be allowed.

A few people voiced concerns about mobile homes being allowed in the city at all, and they misunderstood the ordinance to say that rescinding it would mean that they did not have to have consent.

However, that was eventually resolved.

– Held a public hearing about changing the garbage ordinance to reflect the increas to $12.75 per month.

– Approved rezoning Lee A. Nabors' property to R-1.

– Approved rezoning David L. Vance's property to R-2, the vote was 3-2, with the two no's being Atkinson and McKinney.

– Approved a variance for Johnny and Nita Willis to place a mobile home on property he owns adjacent to his for his daughter. The vote was 4-1, with Atkinson being the no.

– Tabled the discussion about a $3,000 donation to the WIN Job Center until they can come before the board and give an update on how things are going.

– Approved a one-time donation of $3,000 to the heritage museum for maintenance. This was in response to the museum asking that the city pay for the new HVAC unit that was installed. This will cover part of the cost of the unit, however, it is placed in the maintenance fund because Atkinson, who made the motion, said that the city can not pay for the HVAC for a building that they do not own.

– Approved the sale of all surplus equipment to the highest bidders respectively.

– Accepted the bid from Spencer's Lawn Care for mowing throughout the city in the amount of $116,000 for the mowing season.

– Accepted the bid from Magnolia Property Solutions for landscaping for the city in the amount of $19,791. This also includes the initial setup of the irrigation systems and everything else needed, and therefore, the cost will go down next time.

– Passed a memorandum of understanding with the county pertaining to the Alliance Economic Development Team and the city's support of their efforts in the county.

– Tabled the offer from Wofford Water Service for iron deposit sequestration for further consideration.

– Heard an update on the different projects around town by Chickasaw Development Foundation Director Sean Johnson.

– Heard from Parks and Rec Director John Gravat, who informed the board that the concession stand at the ball fields had been broken into and vandalized. He said that the security company was coming in to review the tapes and see what time it happened and who did it.

– Gravat also said that a soccer camp will be coming to Houston the last week of July.

– Heard department reports.

– Approved moving ahead with the condemning of Lily Crawford's property on Davis Avenue.

– Approved moving forward with condemning Jerry Simmons' property on South Jackson Street.

– Approved claims for payment.

– Adjourned.

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