Council OKs rezoning for new facility
Several motions were made to get the ball rolling on a new indoor sports and recreation facility.
During the 6 p.m. meeting Monday at the Law Enforcement Center, 1601 E. Main St., Fredericksburg City Council members received information in three public hearings before approving ordinances for a climbing center.
Chris Avery, one of the leaders of the project, said during the meeting that it would be a multipurpose facility.
“Right now, we’re contemplating about a 17,000-square-foot structure that will have various boulders and facilities that you can climb,” Avery said.
He added it’s not just going to have climbing walls, but also a “total gym experience,” with exercise equipment, a mezzanine, yoga rooms, a splash area and a café. Also on the property would be a restaurant and brewery.
“It should be quite a unique complex,” Avery said. “It’ll be very unique to a city this size.”
The ordinances approved were to change property at 521 Friendship Lane from Low Density Residential to Commercial in the Land Use Map and the Comprehensive Plan and to change the zoning on the property from R-1 Single Family Residential to C-1.5 Commercial. Those were approved by a 3-1 vote, with Councilmember Tom Musselman voting in opposition, and Councilmember Bobby Watson absent.
The council also approved a Conditional Use Permit to operate an indoor sports and recreation facility on the property.
Musselman, who lives on Friendship Lane, was not in favor of the rezoning.
“I feel that a change on this property from residential to commercial will constitute ‘commercial creep’ on Friendship Lane,” Musselman said.
While other properties near this are zoned C-2 commercial, such as the Fairfield Inn & Suites at 513 Friendship Lane and Kustom Klean Car Wash at 516 Friendship Lane, as well as others, Musselman said the remaining property is all residential.
“Changing the zoning to allow further commercial development risks the domino effect of adjacent properties to the east, currently slated for housing, to also be rezoned commercial,” Musselman said.
Musselman added he’s not opposed to the Avery project, but only the rezoning.
“Projects and the people behind them can always change, as land sells and changes hands,” Musselman said. “Zoning, however, remains attached to the property and something entirely different may be constructed.”
FISD student resource officer
The council also authorized City Manager Kent Myers to negotiate and sign an agreement for a school resource officer between the Fredericksburg Police Department and the Fredericksburg Independent School District for another one-year term.
It had been since 2017 since this agreement was last updated, and Fredericksburg Police Chief Steve Wetz wanted to “revisit it.”
“One of the things we’ve been hearing from not too long ago was the amount of money that exchanges hands between the school district and the city, and what it costs the city to fund these two positions for the school,” Wetz said.
He recommended FISD fund 50%, or $88,117, of the agreement.
Another change requested for the new agreement was about mandating an officer be present at the district schools during regular hours.
“With the recent shortage in the department, we’ve had to pull people every now and then to fill some gaps with patrol,” Wetz said. “We didn’t want to lock ourselves down in case this happens again in the near future.”
Wetz said the new agreement would allow the department to service the position to the best of its abilities.
Musselman, a former teacher at FISD, said 50% funding is “fair” at this time, as the current officer teaches five career technology education classes, which receive a higher funding per pupil basis than regular education courses.
“I would be interested in our discussions with the FISD, how many students are taking these classes, what kind of funding they are, because I think that’s important when we ask them to pay more than $30,000 per year for two officers,” Musselman said. “That’s $30,000 divided by two at $15,000 a piece.”
Mayor Linda Langerhans wanted the school district to fund more of the contract.
“When you look at the tax rate that FISD has, which is $1.07 (per $100 valuation), and what the city has, $0.2272, then there’s a lot more money at FISD than there is in the city,” Langerhans said.
The council vote was 3-1, with Langerhans in opposition.
During his report, Myers updated the council on a judge’s ruling that Kinder Morgan’s Permian Highway Pipeline project was not in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
He said crews were given a “hard start” on Monday to begin the project in Gillespie County.
“Here in the next couple of weeks, we could have up to 200 workers here working on the project,” Myers said.
Workers will be living in recreational vehicles at a lot in the county.
Myers added contractors and subcontractors are tasked with restoring the land back to its current condition or better.
On Thursday, city employees will take an emergency exercise dedicated to pipeline disasters.
“Although we don’t anticipate any emergencies, it’s always good to go through these exercises and get ready for anything that might happen,” Myers said.
Clinton Bailey, Assistant City Manager and Director of Public Works and Utilities, said Kinder Morgan anticipates the project being completed within five to six months, and that gas should be flowing through the line by September.
He added the company has two weeks to clear the right-of-way in Gillespie and Blanco counties, as it can’t do so between March 1 and July 31 in areas inhabited by the endangered golden-cheeked warbler.
In addition, Bailey said that PumpCo., the prime contractor for Gillespie County, doesn’t want heavy equipment traveling down Main Street.
“You won’t see trucks carrying heavy equipment piping materials through the middle of town,” Bailey said.