Monday, November 7, 2011
Lewisville city ordinance found to be unlawful
Residents will now be able to put up political signs well in advance of elections.
After a request from a resident, city officials found that a Lewisville city ordinance was in violation of the Texas constitution.
Recently, a Lewisville resident contacted the city about putting a sign in their yard promoting a presidential candidate. City officials discussed the request with its legal department and found that an ordinance regarding political signs was unconstitutional.
"Through discussions with our legal department, we found that the ordinance was unconstitutional by Texas law," said Cleve Joiner, building official manager. "It's from a recent change in the Texas law, so now we will have to change our ordinance."
The current ordinance relating to political signs prohibits political signs greater than eight feet in height, prohibits the illumination of political signs, prohibits moving elements on political signs, and limits the length of time a sign may be displayed. The proposed changes to the ordinance include deleting the 90-day time limit for political signs located on private property prior to an election being decided and providing a 30-day time limit for removal of political signs after an election is decided.
"The state has said that we can't regulate the time prior to an election, but we can regulate it after the election," Joiner said.
The city council is scheduled to vote on the amended ordinance during its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday. Council members will also readdress a tabled item from the previous meeting regarding an agreement between the city and Vista 121 Business Center L.P. The agreement includes an incentive to the developer for a 75-percent reduction of tree mitigation fees to construct the new parking lot for occupancy of the facility. The original tree mitigation fee was calculated to be $36,000, which would result in the developer paying a $9,000 fee.
The agreement originated in 2007 between the city and Vista 121 Business Center L.P. for Vista 121 to build a 240,000-square-foot office building. The building was completed in 2008 but was not occupied. Now the entire building is being occupied by JP Morgan Chase for a new business center and additional parking is needed for the 1,200-2,000 new employees.
During the Oct. 17 meeting, Councilman Leroy Vaughn said he was not in favor of giving up the fee. He said it was not in the best interest of the city. Council John Gorena was also not in favor of approving the agreement. He said there are already benefits to coming to Lewisville. However, city officials said the agreement is a "gain" for the city because it will fill the building with 2,000 jobs.
Councilman TJ Gilmore said he would vote in favor of the agreement to "be a good steward." Councilman Rudy Durham also indicated a favorable vote. Mayor Dean Ueckert abstained from the item because his wife works for the company.
Finally, council members will also consider renaming Sycamore Park to Reverend Alvin Turner Sr. Park.
"Alvin was the pastor at what was Macedonia Baptist Church in Old Town. He was also a community leader from the late 1960s until his death in 2000," said Pastor Ronald Elder, the pastor of Solid Rock Missionary Baptist Church. "This has been an ongoing process for about four to five years."
The park board received a request from Elder that included a petition with 118 signatures in favor of renaming the park. He also presented a letter of support from Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell, and a letter of support from Vernell Gregg, president of the Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees. To date no letters or comments of opposition have been received. The park board unanimously recommended approval of renaming Sycamore Park to Reverend Alvin Turner Sr. Park. The board also unanimously recommended that the park remain named Sycamore Park until full funding for the sign has been provided. Failure to receive the funding within 12 months of approval will negate the name change.
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