The Magnolia City Council is moving ahead with ordinances that will allow for expansion of the city limits while trying to preserve the attractiveness and charm of the town.
At the city council meeting on Feb. 12, they passed ordinances to help control building codes for new construction, improve the placement and type of business signs and provide the groundwork for subdivision and land development regulations. They agreed to increase fees for city services to make them more in line with comparable cities.
The ordinance regarding building regulations was developed as an interim building, subdivision and land development ordinance that would be in place to ensure all future development is consistent with the comprehensive plan, until the plan becomes fully effective. It applies to new properties within the city limits or extraterritorial jurisdiction of Magnolia. Officials said its purpose is to promote the character and charm of Magnolia through architectural design, construction practices, landscaping guidelines, nuisance regulation, resource protection and adjacency protection, among other items.
The new sign ordinance will regulate or prohibit any signage that is placed on public property or right-of-way, private property signs and billboards. It will assure that permanent signs adhere to an annual inspection schedule and that applicable fees are paid to the city. It was also set in place to ensure attractive roadways in the city.
Council members agreed to rehabilitate the elevated water storage tank along the railroad tracks and to permit the purchase of two replacement police patrol vehicles.
In the business of elections, three council positions will be up for election, during a general election to be held May 11. Council agreed to conduct joint elections between Magnolia ISD and the city and to authorize an election services agreement between Montgomery County and the city.
Magnolia Police Chief Domingo Ibarra reported that for the last ten months the city has collected more warrants than it has issued and that officers are proceeding to impound vehicles of people without insurance or drivers' licenses who commit traffic or other violations in the city. He also stated that the department is working to report crime statistics that occur only within the city limits, not for crimes outside the limits, so that the statistics more accurately reflect the crime situation within Magnolia itself.
City Administrator Paul Mendes stated the comprehensive plan for the city is on schedule for completion in March. The Public Works Department is working on repairing pipes, sewers and ditches that need to be improved so the expansion of the city can stay on track.
"The infrastructure needs repair -- some water is not being accounted for due to leaks and improper construction that was completed long before city regulations were put in place," he explained.
He went on to say that city codes are being enforced and monthly building permits are up.
"These are good signs that Magnolia is moving forward," said Mendes.
Several presentations were given during the meeting. Auditor Robert VanWassehnova reported that "Magnolia had a good financial year in 2012 and the Council is making good use of the taxpayers' money" with its careful spending.
Juan Carreon, Union Pacific Railroad Vice President, presented commemorative gifts to the city in honor of its designation as an "Official Union Pacific Train Town," which occurred on the same day as the council meeting. Also, Matt Dillon, owner of Dillon's Gunsmoke in Magnolia, presented a Blackhawk Tactical Backpack Kit to the Magnolia Police Department. The military-style gear will help officers safely enter a dangerous building in the event of an active shooter incident.
In a separate presentation, Ibarra was awarded a plaque from the Fraternal Order of Police of Harris County for his recent help in diffusing a sensitive law enforcement situation.