February 2012

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Smart Meters

Ron Cox recognized for service

Manvel City Council

Meet the Candidates

Manvel News

 

Smart Meters

February 8, 2012

Manvel City Council heard a presentation from a CenterPoint Energy spokesman at a recent council meeting.  Jason Fabre explained the new smart meters to the area, which have recently been installed in and around Manvel.  The meters will combine with other technologies and are expected to transform the future purchase, delivery, and consumption of electricity.

CenterPoint Energy is a gas and electric company that serves over 3 million industrial, commercial, and wholesale customers with natural gas over several states and manage two interstate pipelines and perform field services where they capture and process natural gas.  They also are an electric transmission and distribution company that serves mainly the greater Houston area with just over 2 million customers.

The smart meters are used by their electric customers and through a rolling installation process eventually all of their service area will see the meters installed.  Fabre likened the smart meters to a gas pump for a car.  If a user’s budget only allows fifty dollars of gas, that user will avoid unnecessary trips so as to remain within budget.  Smart meters will allow consumers of electricity to budget in much the same way.  The present system offers little ability for the consumer to know what level of consumption they are expending as the bill arrives after the fact.

Smart meters will allow the user to determine how much electricity they are consuming and offer a real-time view of what it is costing so that better management and conservation can be exercised.  Fabre explained that retail electric providers will be able to offer pre-paid service to control costs and will also be able to provide remote connects and disconnects.  Time of use rates will likely come into play in an effort to encourage more consumption during the off-peak times such as late at night into the early morning or late morning into the early afternoon.

The smart meters will capture data and communicate through cell relays to the central station and downstream providers.  Among other things, the communications will help the company repair failing transformers before they actually go off line and will notify of service interruptions before the customer is even aware of there being a problem.

Other benefits as described by Fabre include no longer bearing the problems associated with meter readers, such as damaged fences, barking dogs, invasion of privacy, etc…  All meter reading will now be automated.  Faster disconnects and re-connects will make it more convenient for customers as it will no longer be required to wait the customary three days that is typical today.  The provider will be able to determine whether or not there is a problem with electricity feeding the house.  Many service calls are in fact problems within the home itself which requires a private electrician to repair.  Unnecessary service trips should be curtailed significantly saving both the provider and the customer time and money.  The smart meters will be compatible with third party offered Home Area Networks that will allow users to control their appliances remotely, see how much power a particular device is requiring, and other similar conveniences.

Fabre claims the smart meters will help to reduce the amount of energy required to be produced to power over 175,000 homes.  Or, two to four generators could be offset in the near future which represents millions of dollars of investments that would ultimately get passed on to the consumers.  Being greener and conserving the environment are additional benefits the meters bring.

Additional information can be had at www.smartmetertexas.com.

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Ron Cox recognized for service

February 15, 2012

Manvel city council honored Ron Cox for his service as Interim City Manager with a special proclamation at this week’s council meeting.  Cox was appointed to the interim position last July and served until January 17 when the city’s new full time city manager, Kyle Jung, assumed the position.  In expressing the city’s appreciation for all his work, Mayor Delores Martin recognized his contribution to the growth and success of Manvel.

Cox has enjoyed a long and distinguished history with the city, serving in several advisory and consulting capacities before accepting the interim city manager position.  He was instrumental in directing the city in the early stages of the city’s new charter that was passed by voters last May and led the effort in the hiring process for the new city manager.

Cox was grateful for the recognition and admitted he was “suffering from withdrawal”.  He said it has been an adjustment not receiving the regular phone calls and admitted that he missed it. 

Cox will continue his involvement in city governance as he carries on additional advisory and consulting activities.

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Manvel City Council

February 15, 2012

Manvel City Council approved a resolution approving a Joint Election Agreement between the city and Brazoria County Clerk Joyce Hudman for the conduct and supervision of the Political Subdivision Election to be held on May 12, 2012.  An Ordinance was also approved that will provide for the holding of a general election for the purpose of electing three council members. 

Up for election this May are Council Position 1, held currently by Bob Long; Position 2, currently held by Mack Ivy; and Position 4, held by Melody Hanson.  Preliminary indications are that neither Bob Long nor Mack Ivy will seek re-election.  Melody Hanson has expressed an initial intention of running for another one year term.

Applications for those interested in running for one of the positions will be accepted at City Hall through March 5.

In other council news, approval was granted for the annual report for the 2011 TIRZ #3.  TIRZ #3 encompasses the planned 1600 acre Seven Oaks development as well as an additional 500 acres extending from the developments north boundary to include areas along state highway 6.

The TIRZ is designed to increase the value of taxable properties through construction of new public and private infrastructure improvements.  The incremental value on the increased property assessments is set aside in dedicated funds for improvements in the zone. 

In a related action, council approved Mike Pyburn to be re-appointed Chair of the TIRZ #3 Board as well as Chair of the South Manvel Development Authority.

Council unanimously approved a one-year extension on a development plat for Palm Court Section 2 in Rodeo Palms.  A spokesperson for the developer requested the extension explaining that economic conditions have not been advantageous for development.

Council also finally approved the final reading of the pipeline ordinance that has been under discussion for some time.  City Attorney Bobby Gervais delivered verbiage satisfactory to council in addressing their concerns on foliage replacement (primarily trees) and a required acknowledgment to be filed with the county regarding any development within 100 feet of a pipeline.  The ordinance forbids any development within 50 feet of a pipeline.  Council’s intent is to make every effort to ensure full disclosure to current and future property owners of the existence of the pipeline easements.

And approval was given for the submission of a grant application for police equipment to the Governor’s Office, Criminal Justice Division.  The grant program is 100% funded with no matching requirement.  The same grant funded over $68,000 for three new police cruisers for the city in 2010. Police Chief Ralph Garcia has identified two projects to apply for.  One was applied for previously and denied, but will be put on the list again this time around.  That program is called the Life Scan program.  There are various stations around the state that have automatic fingerprint identification systems (AFIS) with the nearest one to Manvel being located in Angleton.  Currently in Manvel, after fingerprints the old-fashioned way, they must be delivered to Angleton to await results.  The LifeScan program will provide a digitized fingerprint system that will streamline the process and allow for digitized records to be maintained by the local police.  $36,000 will be requested to cover that system.

The priority for the grant is the replacement of eight mobile laptop computers that serve the city’s fleet.  Currently each of the units is at least four years old with some as old as eight years.  The computers are an integral part of the operating system where they can check license plates, driver’s licenses, and other information without having to go through dispatch.  They also allow officers to complete their reports in the field without having to return to the station.  None of the current computers are Windows 7 capable which will be a requirement as the city’s dispatch equipment is updated.  The cost of the computers is also projected to be $36,000.

There is some optimism that approval will be granted to at least one of the requests, with the computers holding priority, due to the amount being asked for is not that large in comparison to many of the other agencies competing for the limited grant funds.

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Meet the Candidates

February 22, 2012

The Alvin-Manvel Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored a “Meet the Candidate” luncheon at Grace United Methodist Church on Monday.  A crowd of more than 100 people were in attendance to hear candidates running for various county positions.  Each candidate was given ninety seconds to introduce themselves to the crowd, but much mingling went on before and after the session, as well while the lunch was served.

Six candidates are vying for the District 14 US Congressional seat that will be vacated when long time Congressman Ron Paul’s term ends this year.  Paul is not seeking re-election.  Candidates represented a cross section of experience and backgrounds, including current State Representative Randy Webber and Pearland City Council member Felicia Harris.  Others include John Gay, Robert Gonzales, Zach Grady, and Michael Truncale.

Candidates for State Senate, District 11, included Daniel McCool, Dave Norman, and Larry Taylor.  McCool has been a public servant his entire life, as a veteran and peace officer.  He says he disagrees with a lot that has gone on in the community and no longer wants to support candidates who fail to do what they say.  This year he decided to run himself.  He claims to have plans for personal property rights and border security.  Dave Norman says he is not a politician but a small business owner and proud veteran.  He says he will serve Texas and listen to his constituents.  Larry Taylor believes it is not the government’s job to create jobs but to create an environment where the people can create jobs.  He claims to have a ten year proven record of representing Galveston County as a State Representative. 

Candidates for State Representative, District 29, include Debra Rosenthal-Ritter and Ed Thompson.   Rosenthal-Ritter said the talking points are pretty much the same among the candidates; what is different is the people who are running.  She is a former teacher with a Master’s Degree in Education earned from Texas A&M.  She says that more than 60% of the state budget is spent on education and that it is important to have representation in Austin that not only understands education as a parent and a teacher.  She is a Certified Financial Planner and claims to see people every day that are “scared to death on what their future holds”.  She admits to not being a career politician but boasts that she is the right choice to represent District 29.  Thompson gave four reasons that he is running for State Representative; his four grandchildren.  He wants them to have the opportunity to have the same Texas that he has enjoyed, with a good public education and an opportunity to own a small business.  He says he we need to work on education, transportation, and the issues of water in the State so that we can grow the economy and keep it vibrant.

Rita Ashley is running for the State Board of Education, which is charged with selecting the curriculum in schools, granting charters to open enrollment charter schools, and oversees the $25 billion public school fund.  She is a former teacher and business owner who “fell in love” with technology and the potential it holds for improving education.  “If you like what they are doing in schools right now and love the public education system in Texas”, she says, “then vote for my opponent”.  “If you want a change, then vote for me”.

Brazoria County Tax Assessor-Collector Ro-Vin Garrett is seeking re-election and is running against Debbie Gleaves.  Precinct 3 Constable Buck Stevens is being challenged by current Sheriff’s Deputy Chase Grupe, and Precinct 3 County Commissioner Stacy Adams is running unopposed.

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Manvel News

February 29, 2012

Manvel city council heard from a developer wanting to improve additional residential lots south of the Rodeo Palms Subdivision.  The proposed development would be established through a Municipal Utility District (MUD) and a PUD (Planned Unit Development) and would provide lot sizes of 50, 55, and 60 foot widths with most depths to be 115 feet.  The developer explained that they currently have 60 foot lots in nearby developments that are not selling and feel the market justifies the smaller 50 and 55 foot widths.

Council member Mack Ivy pointed out that the difference in cost between a 55 foot lot and a 50 foot lot would amount to approximately $5,000 and asked if that amount of money would really make a difference in whether or not a new home would sell.  The developer answered that indeed it would.  Concern was also raised about the side setback requirements that provide just 5 feet from the property line.  Council member Larry Akery pointed out that when the eaves of the homes are considered that the distance between homes would be well under 10 feet and expressed concern that a fire could potentially spread easily to neighboring houses.  Council was unanimous in its feedback that 60 foot lots would be the minimum considered when the new PUD is negotiated.

Council also heard from representatives of the Alvin Independent School District (AISD) regarding a variance request submitted that would reduce the right-of-way (ROW) requirement on Kirby Drive just south of County Road 59.  The school district recently acquired acreage along south CR59 just east of its intersection with Kirby Drive for the building of the district’s 15th elementary school.  A 60 foot parcel connects the main tract to Kirby Drive and it is on that piece that the district requested the variance.

The ROW along Kirby is currently platted at 100’ from CR59 south to its end, including a portion under county control.  The portion north of CR59 that is in the city of Pearland is also platted at a 100’ ROW.  A new four lane divided and curbed road was recently put in place by the SouthFork developer that utilizes a 100’ ROW.  School district representatives made the case that because all the road is currently platted at 100’ and that only a small portion of road frontage is subject to the Subdivision ordinance, that it’s 60 foot portion be granted the variance maintaining consistency with the balance of the road as it currently exists.

Council was not convinced to grant the variance and due to the proposal not being opened for a vote, effectively killed the request.  Some council members expressed support of PD&Z’s unfavorable recommendation.  In explaining the Board’s position, Windy Arnold said the group felt the variance request did not follow the city’s thoroughfare plan and was not seen as a necessity.  Mayor Delores Martin expressed her feeling that city rules are only useful if they are adhered to.  Some others on council felt it important to maintain the larger ROW in case future expansion of the road may be required.

In other council news, approval was granted for the receipt of Community Development Block Grant funds in the amount of $136,000 and the appointment of a contractor to replace a currently existing 4” water line serving Rogers Road with an 8” line along with new taps and meters.  City Manager Kyle Jung explained that if the project is able to be completed at the budgeted $105,000 that the balance of the funds could be used to extend the water line up to state hwy 6 which would allow it to loop into the city’s existing service lines on the north side of the road, which among other things would provide additional fire hydrants along the road.

Windy Arnold, Debbie Harrison, and Dorothy Wynne were all approved for re-appointment to the Planning, Development, and Zoning Board for two year terms.  Ed Armstrong and Buddy Williams were both approved for re-appointment to the South Manvel Development Authority Board and the related TIRZ 3 Board, with terms to expire in May 2013.

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