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refuses project loan request
Candidates set for May 11 election
School Districts Update
Proposed 288 Improvements
Manvel Council News
Council receives racial profiling report
approves District expansion programs
Council refuses project loan
March 6, 2013
council refused to consider an $82,500 loan commitment request submitted by
Blazer Building, Inc, a general contractor desiring to construct a senior
living community at Southfork Parkway and CR 59 in the city’s Extra
Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ). The loan would have assisted the company in
making an application to receive tax credits from a state agency that would
provide close to 65% of the development’s project costs.
In making the case for the commitment, a spokesman for Blazer Building
referenced other county and regional qualified Political Sub-divisions that
have assisted like projects with this type of funding activity. Council was
also told that the commitment was required on February 25, the same day as
the council meeting.
Despite the company’s contention that the loan would be without recourse or
liability to the city, and that all costs associated with the loan would be
borne by the borrower, council members were concerned about the city having
to make good on the funds should the developer default for some reason.
Mayor Delores Martin expressed her discomfort with the proposal and Member
John Cox suggested tabling the matter to allow Manvel’s City Attorney, Bobby
Gervais, to closer examine the city’s risk exposure. Gervais told council of
a similar financial arrangement in a neighboring city where the project
operators defaulted and creditors looked to the city to make good on the
loan. Gervais said he “could never guarantee that there would never be any
The Blazer spokesman admitted that without the city’s loan commitment it
would be unlikely that state tax credits would be earned and would most
probably end the project. Ultimately council chose to not move forward with
Cox’s tabling recommendation and voted to outright deny the resolution.
In other council news, members approved the first of two readings that will
amend the Code of Ordinances by adding a new Article XI “Rental Registration
and Inspection.” The goal of the ordinance is to establish regulations
pertaining to the licensing and inspection of rental residential properties
within the city.
Motivating the additional Article is a plan for a Rodeo Palms developer to
build two sections of approximately 200 homes that are intended to be rental
homes. City Manager Kyle Jung said “there is no way the city can have any
impact unless we have an ordinance.” The ordinance will require rental
properties to be registered with the city and would provide for an annual
percentage of randomly selected properties to be inspected; thereby ensuring
city codes are being adhered to. Jung said it would “at least allow the city
to monitor those properties.”
Approval was given for the re-appointment of three board members on the
Manvel Economic Development Commission (MEDC). Melody Hanson, Bradley
Gardner, and Karen Kinlaw were re-appointed with terms to expire in December
Authorization was granted to approve an Interlocal Agreement between the
City of Manvel and Brazoria County Appraisal District No 4 for the
installation of culverts on Rogers Road, east of Cemetery Road, and on
Jordan Lane east of Masters. The agreement provides for matching amounts to
meet new TxDOT requirements.
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Candidates set for May 11 election
March 6, 2013
March 1 was the deadline for both the City of Manvel and the Alvin
Independent School District (AISD) to accept applications for a place on the
May 11 ballot.
Manvel will see Melody Hanson seek her fourth term as a member of City
Council unopposed. She holds the Place 4 seat. Hanson is the senior member
on council and currently serves as Mayor Pro-tem. The Place 6 seat will see
incumbent Lew Shuffler challenged by former council member Gary Garnett.
Garnett says he wants to once more involve himself in city affairs as he
expresses intent to challenge Mayor Delores Martin in 2014.
AISD will see the Position 4 seat, currently held by Board President Tiffany
Wennerstrom, challenged by former Board member Mark Patterson. Patterson was
elected to the Board in 2009 and declined to seek reelection last May.
Cheryl Harris was voted in to his former Position 3 seat. Wennerstrom was
elected in 2010 and became President of the Board of Trustees last year.
The Position 5 seat, currently held by Eddie Martinez, will be challenged by
Shadow Creek Ranch resident Nicole Tonini. Tonini narrowly lost the Position
1 seat last May by two votes to current Trustee Mike Lansford. Martinez has
served as Trustee twice, first elected in 1999 for a three year term, and
again elected in 2007 and 2010.
Early voting begins April 29 and runs through May 7.
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March 13, 2013
Pearland Chamber of Commerce sponsored a Pearland and Alvin School District
Update last week. Pearland Independent School District (PISD) was
represented by its Superintendent Dr. John Kelly. Before taking the Pearland
job in August 2011, Kelly led the Boerne and Pearsall School Districts for
twenty years. He is a former US Air Force sergeant and earned his
undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M University.
Alvin Independent School District (AISD) was represented by its
Superintendent Dr. Fred Brent. Brent assumed the Alvin leadership in
December 2010 after leading the Anderson-Shiro Consolidated ISD. Brent is a
former teacher and principal in various school districts in Oklahoma and
Texas. He earned his doctoral degree from Texas A&M University.
Both districts are comparable in administration and student enrollment size.
PISD claims 2,300 employees and 19,650 enrolled students this year with a
growth rate of about 300 to 350 per year. AISD has approximately 2,500
employees and 18,945 current students. It has seen growth of about 900
students per year, ranking it as the fourth fastest growing district in the
area and the highest percentage growth rate at 27.7%.
PISD includes 23 campuses comprised of eleven elementary schools, four
middle schools, four junior high schools, the Searcy Ninth Grade Center, two
high schools, and one specialty campus. AISD has 23 campuses as well,
including fourteen elementary schools, five junior high schools, two high
schools, and two specialty campuses. AISD encompasses 250 square miles
including the part of Pearland west of state highway 288. AISD covers
numerous other communities in northern Brazoria County including Alvin,
Manvel, Iowa Colony, Liverpool, Rosharon, and Arcola.
PISD operates with an annual budget of approximately $130 million; AISD
approximately $143 million. PISD’s Kelly explained that his district lost
$12 million over the past two years due to state funding cuts and claims the
district would have had an additional $24 million in the past years budget
if PISD had received the average amount per child in Texas. AISD’s Brent
said his district lost more than $11 million from the previous biennium.
Both districts enjoy healthy fund balances intended to cover costs for at
least 90 days should funding shortages arise. PISD imposes a tax rate of
$1.4194 per $100 valuation; AISD $1.3291 per $100 valuation.
Both Superintendents shared the sentiment that Texas’ requirement that
fifteen tests be needed for graduation is excessive, claiming it is more
than three times what any other state in the nation requires. The fifteen
tests are in addition to the national tests for higher education admissions
such as the SAT and ACT. Both expect that number to reduce to five or less
pending current legislative efforts underway in Austin. Among the five
subject areas likely to be tested are reading, writing, biology, Algebra 1,
and US History.
Both districts are placing greater emphasis on Advanced Placement and dual
credit courses that allow a student to earn credit toward their college
degree while in high school. Both are also offering increased vocational
programs. PISD is expecting 600 students to enroll in its Turner College and
Career School that will provide work-force training resulting in
certificates and/or college associates degrees before graduating from high
school. Kelly explained the program will provide local businesses with a
well-trained work force and will serve to relieve the current and potential
overcrowding at Pearland and Dawson High Schools.
AISD is in the process of converting the currently vacant Manvel Junior High
facility to a Career and Technology Education campus. Recommendations for
the facility include a cosmetology program, HVAC, Agricultural Mechanics,
Metal and Construction Technology, Manufacturing, Veterinary Technician, and
Information Technology. Additional options will be considered as part of the
Citizen’s Advisory Committee report expected this summer. Programs are set
to commence for the 2013-2014 school year.
PISD has current capital improvement programs underway for a satellite bus
barn, providing WiFi for the entire district, installing artificial turf at
both high schools, and various maintenance projects. AISD just began
construction on a new elementary school on CR 59 near its intersection with
Kirby Drive. It also has acquired 72 acres of land near the intersection of
Kirby Drive and Broadway to house the district’s third high school. Brent
explained that design of the facility is underway and the timeline for
construction depends on the results of a Citizens Advisory Committee report
due this summer and would require a subsequent bond referendum.
Both districts have incorporated a Bring Your Own Device initiative that
encourages students to utilize their personal smartphones, laptops, and
tablets to help relieve hardware and software costs borne by the districts.
Kelly explained that many students already have capable devices to use.
Each Superintendent addressed security concerns. PISD is adding additional
security guards at the elementary level, is working on enhanced security for
school entrance ways, and is conducting drills and providing staff training.
AISD recently contracted with an outside firm to conduct a security audit
and Brent was proud to announce the district received the highest scores. He
explained that the Citizens Advisory Committee is “currently conducting an
internal security audit to ensure we are proactive and put student and staff
safety at the front of everything we do.”
Both districts are accredited with a “Recognized” rating from the Texas
Education Agency. Beginning teacher salaries for PISD is $44,600 with a
Bachelor’s degree and $46,000 with a Master’s degree. AISD pays $46,700 and
$47,700 respectively. Ethnic distribution for PISD is 42.8% white, 28%
Hispanic, 16.3% African American, 9.6% Asian, and 3.2% other. AISD is 44.5%
Hispanic, 34% white, 12% African American, 8% Asian, and 1% other.
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March 13, 2013
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) held a public hearing last
week in Pearland to present its proposed SH 288 improvements from US 59 to
County Road 60 in Harris and Brazoria Counties. The improvements are
proposed to provide additional roadway capacity, to increase mobility, and
to improve access to the Texas Medical Center.
Population along the SH 288 corridor has been projected to increase 60% from
2005 to 2025. Residential and commercial development along with associated
employment will increase resulting in deteriorating mobility and
unacceptable levels of traffic. TxDOT studies project traffic to increase
along the corridor 32% to 74% from 2011 to 2035.
Schematic and environmental studies for the project commenced in 2006 with
public meetings beginning in 2007. The initial phase of the program will
provide two reversible toll lanes from US 59 to SH 6. Construction would
begin in 2014 and the lanes would be operational by 2017. The estimated
construction cost is $300 million. TxDOT officials indicated that four toll
lanes, two dedicated in each direction, may be constructed in Phase 1 if
sufficient funding is available.
The ultimate phase of the project would include four toll lanes from US 59
to CR 60. They would be operational by 2035 and would bear an estimated cost
of $1.4 billion. Existing lanes would not be tolled and current plans call
for the toll lanes to utilize an electronic toll collection system with no
traditional toll booths. Interchange upgrades are planned at IH 610, a
connector from SH 288 to FM 521 will be constructed to improve access to the
Texas Medical Center, and ultimately 8 direct connectors are expected at the
SH 288/Beltway 8 interchange.
Public comments will be accepted via email until March 21, 2013 at
firstname.lastname@example.org. A decision on the Environmental Assessment is
anticipated this summer.
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Manvel Council News
March 20, 2013
Manvel city council approved the first of two readings of an
ordinance that would change the zoning classification of 1.455 acres located at
7355 McCoy from Light Commercial to Light Commercial with a specific use permit
that would authorize the use of the property for a religious organization
(church). Part of the approval provides a waiver from a city ordinance requiring
a fire sprinkler system. Fire Marshall Aaron Bell explained that the code
requires sprinklers in a structure that accommodates an occupancy load of
greater than 300 people. A fire alarm system will be required and adequate fire
exits will be available.
Bell explained that the lessee intends to purchase the building within three
years and at that time it will be required that the building be brought to code
and a sprinkler system installed. Currently the congregation of the church is
approximately fifty people which places it well under the mandated 300 occupancy
load as provided in the code. Bell told council that the cost of installation
for a sprinkler system would be approximately $100,000 and his recommendation to
waive the sprinkler requirement is partly an effort to “work with them to get
into the building.”
Council member Maureen DelBello expressed concern for the city’s liability
should a fire occur and the sprinkler requirement was waived. City Attorney
Bobby Gervais suggested a Hold Harmless Agreement and an Indemnity Clause be
included in any lease and insurance contracts. Council was satisfied and
approved the first reading with Member DelBello casting the lone dissenting
The church currently holds services at a Pearland elementary school and is
looking for a permanent location.
Tabled was another zoning change ordinance for 1.1941 acres located at 19422 Hwy
6 that would provide for a specific use permit authorizing the use of the
property for self-serve storage units and for truck, utility, trailer and RV
rental and leasing. Council requested a site plan to provide greater detail on
where the rental vehicles would be parked and to show the location of other
structures on the property. Council wants to set specific conditions on the
permit before it agrees to its authorization.
Council also approved a preliminary replat for the Southfork Subdivision that
will expand a detention pond to service in part the five acre tract that will
house a Pappa’s Restaurant to be located on the southeast corner of Southfork
Parkway and County Road 59.
In other council news approval was given for a resolution authorizing the
submission of a grant application for a Police Vehicle and Equipment Replacement
Program Grant to the Criminal Justice Division of the Governor’s Office. City
Manager Kyle Jung explained that the grant, if earned, would provide for three
new vehicles, bullet proof vests for patrol officers, and various other
Approval was given for the re-appointment of Board Members to the South Manvel
Development Authority. Phyllis Herbst, Mike Pyburn, and Delores Martin were
re-appointed with terms to expire in May 2014. Also approved for re-appointment
to the TIRZ 3 Board was Phyllis Herbst, Mike Pyburn, and Frank Hagdorn with
terms to expire in May 2014. Both Boards include the area proposed to include
the Seven Oaks development. Mike Pyburn was re-appointed as Chairman of both
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March 20, 2013
Opliger of the now defunct Manvel Community Alliance presented a donation of
$6,000 to the Manvel Community Library Association at a recent city council
meeting. Opliger told council that the Manvel Community Alliance was formed in
2000 when the library was housed at the old school building. The Alliance was
formed as a result of the school being closed which created significant interest
in establishing a permanent library facility in Manvel. Opliger says they had
big plans with visions of acquiring land and a building. A lack of success in
their efforts, as well as the establishment of a stable city library, resulted
in a declining membership.
Having funds in the bank with no ultimate purpose, it was decided that a
donation to the Manvel Library would be the right thing to do for the city.
Oplliger considers the library as a key part of the community and says they “do
good things for the community; they have the summer reading programs and things
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Council receives racial
March 27, 2013
City Council received a report delivered by interim Police Chief Art Chapa
regarding the Department’s 2012 Racial Profiling Report. Chapa said the
presentation of the report to city council is a State requirement. He told
Council that his report was filed with the Texas Commission on Law
Enforcement Officer Standards (TCLEOSE) and was accepted as submitted.
TCLEOSE is a state agency that establishes and enforces standards to ensure
Texans are served by highly trained and ethical law enforcement personnel.
Chapa explained that city police officers have specific guidelines that must
be followed and may not pull over a driver just because of their race or
color. He went on to say that any car used by patrol officers, of which
Manvel has five, must have audio/video capabilities in working condition.
Should a camera go down for any reason, that particular patrol car would not
be allowed for the purpose of pulling drivers over.
Chapa reported a total number of citations issued in 2012 at 868, from which
57 resulted in arrests. Of the 868 citations issued, 185 were
African-American, 43 Asian, 405 Caucasian, 280 Hispanic, 13 of
Middle-Eastern descent and 1 Native American. The question of whether or not
the officer executing the citation was aware of the driver’s ethnicity prior
to the stop was addressed as well. From 927 total stops in 2012, Chapa
claims that none of the officers had prior awareness of the driver’s
Ninety-nine searches were conducted from the traffic stops with all
consented to by the drivers.
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AISD approves District
March 27, 2013
The Alvin Independent School District (AISD) Board of Trustees approved a
Guaranteed Maximum Price Contract for the renovations previously authorized
for the Lewis Lane Annex Building that is part of the currently unused
Manvel Junior High School property. The Annex will be prepared to house the
District’s Career and Technology Programs.
The guaranteed amount exceeds the previously approved construction budget of
$443,385; the newly authorized amount is $604,425. Jeff Couvillion, AISD’s
Director of Building Programs, explained the escalation as required due to
an overall increase in construction costs since the first of the year, an
increased scope in the Cosmetology area due to clarification of state
requirements for program certification, an increased scope in the
ventilation and electrical service needs to accommodate the Building Trades
and HVAC programs and to accommodate the addition of the Ag Mechanical &
Metal Program to the same area, and to allow $25,000 as a contingency to
cover any additional costs that may be imposed by the City of Manvel
resulting from its plan review process. Another $450,000 was previously
authorized to pay for furniture, fixtures, and equipment for the facility.
The approval of the revised contract will allow the project’s builder to
begin work as soon as final permitting is complete.
In January of this year the AISD Board received recommendations for a Career
Technical Education (CTE) program that determined the need for lab space for
new programs such as cosmetology and additional facilities for programs such
as HVAC, Agricultural Mechanics and Metal, Construction Technology,
Manufacturing, Veterinarian Technician, and Information Technology. A CTE
Advisory Committee made up of CTE teachers and community members agreed with
the district’s administration that more courses leading to certifications
were of significant value for AISD students.
The District wants to begin course offerings at the Annex for the 2013-2014
The Board also approved a contract valued at $3,194,953 for architectural
and engineering services for the design of High School #3, to be located in
Pearland near the southwest corner of Broadway and Kirby. The scope of the
work would cover design services for Phase 1 of a two phase project. SHW
Group, recipient of the contract, has worked with the district to perform
preliminary land studies and site layout options during the purchase and
early planning of site developing and platting.
A Citizens Advisory Committee appointed by the Board of Trustees earlier
this year is currently preparing a recommendation for Board consideration
that will include among its findings the prospects of a bond referendum for
voters to decide this November. Funding for the new High School is
anticipated to be part of any bond proposal. The Board is expecting the
committee’s recommendations early this summer.
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