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Council moves forward on affordable rental housing resolutions

Council moves forward on affordable rental housing resolutions
Mayor Robert Gregory accepts an award Feb. 12 on behalf of the city of La Vernia, in recognition of its National Night Out efforts last fall. Joining him are representatives of the La Vernia Police Department, La Vernia EMS, and La Vernia Volunteer Fire Department. The agencies coordinate the event together to “Take a bite out of crime.”

The demand for connection to the rest of the world consumed much of the La Vernia City Council’s time Feb. 12, with a presentation by commZoom CEO Bob Cohen, about his company’s efforts to provide fiber net options for La Vernia and other Texas communities.

“What’s one of the first questions new businesses ask when they look into coming into your community?” he asked the council. “What’s your Internet infrastructure? It’s crucial to economic development.”

Cohen said commZoom plans to expand upon the infrastructure it purchased in La Vernia from Coyote Cable last year and will bring ultra high-speed Internet and voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) phone service to the city by early June. They hope to follow with digital high-definition video service by July, he said. The plans may even incorporate local programming, such as airing of football games or local events. Up to 5 percent of the gross video revenue will go to the city, through state franchise fees.

Service planned will include Internet speeds of up to 500 megabits per second for residential customers and up to 500 gigabits per second for businesses, Cohen said.

As the presentation was for information only, there was no council action on it.

However, council members Marie Gerlich, Harold Schott, Eloi Cormier, Jennifer Moczygemba, and Mark Doege had plenty of other business to address.

Following a public hearing in which no members of the public addressed the matter, the council unanimously approved to rezone 28.199 acres of undeveloped land at the southwest corner of U.S. 87 and F.M. 1346 from single-family agricultural to general commercial.

Continuing its ongoing exploration regarding affordable rental housing options for the city, the council also approved a resolution supporting Cayetano Villas of La Vernia, a proposed development of affordable rental housing. Also approved was a resolution for Cayetano Villas of La Vernia to submit an application to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for 2015 Housing Tax Credits.

“We’ve been looking at this for about four months,” Mayor Robert Gregory said. “é It’s a new product for our community; it will fill a gap in our community.”

The mayor was adamant about one point.

“It’s not Section 8,” he assured the audience. “Section 8 is an entitlement. This is a privilege.”

Through tax credits, he said, such developments offer rental at various levels, up to full market rental, to qualified applicants. Potential residents are subject to employment and criminal background checks, not only when they apply, but each year they reside in the development.

In other matters, the council:

¢Approved a resolution supporting Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph; this indicates the city’s support to prevent development in the base’s fly and crash zones, said Mayor Robert Gregory

¢Approved a contract with Monty McGuffin of Universal City for food inspections in the city

¢Approved appointing Councilman Jennifer Moczygemba as the council’s liaison to the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission

¢Approved adding Presidents’ Day as a city holiday

¢Amended the dates for the city’s spring cleanup to March 7-15 from March 14-22.

Council members also discussed a proposed agreement with Canyon Regional Water Authority for future water requirements. Action on this failed for lack of a motion.

An agenda item regarding doubling permit fees when city residents or businesses commence work before permits are issued drew much attention. Council members ultimately agreed education is needed to inform residents of the city’s permitting requirements, and that attempts will be made through utility bill statements and other methods to inform residents of the permitting requirements and associated fees. The matter will be revisited during the April council meeting.

Auditor Phil Armstrong also presented a report, advising the city is in good financial standing.

In executive session, the city secretary’s job performance was discussed; no action was taken upon reconvening into regular session, according to the mayor after the meeting.

Following executive session discussion, the council approved to offer a financial incentive to a business prospect the city seeks to have located within the city limits.

The city will hold a general election May 9, for three council seats. Current office holders are Jennifer Moczygemba, Marie Gerlich, and Mark Doege. This will be a joint election with the La Vernia Independent School District, if that entity holds an election, said City Secretary Angela Cantu. To apply for a place on the ballot, contact City Hall.

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