The Tomball City Council had another round with a proposed fencing ordinance, before finally approving the measure Feb. 4. Members also looked at the possibility of regulating the large donation boxes located around town, as well as approved waving impact fees for new businesses locating downtown.
Council started the meeting by revisiting the long debated fencing ordinance.
Councilman Derek Townsend's wife Lisa sent an email, which city secretary Doris Speer read.
"I oppose such laws where government regulations limit our decision making ability or puts undue stress on property owners and taxpayers," she wrote. "I hope there are elected officials which support the rights of homeowners and taxpayers."
Derek Townsend then suggested tabling the ordinance to allow for more discussion on what will be permissible. Other council members did not support Townsend and ultimately passed the new fencing ordinance. Townsend was the lone dissenting vote, while Councilman Mark Stoll wasn't present.
The discussion then turned to the charitable donation boxes located around town.
Assistant City Manager Christal Kliewer Weber told the council that most of the boxes are owned by private businesses, which then donate a portion of the proceeds to the charity named on the box. That drew the ire of Councilman Rick Brown, as he suggested charging a fee for those boxes. He had concerns that Goodwill maintains and pay rent at a storefront in the city, while the owners of the boxes do not.
"It seems like they need some kind of fee," Brown said. "Now the questions for staff is, what kind of burden does that put on staff?"
"There are only 16 (boxes) now," Weber said. "We can limit them, depending on what council wants to do."
Councilman Preston Dodson agreed that the boxes need to be regulated.
"I don't see a need for them to pay the city, but I do see a need for them to be well maintained," he said.
Townsend suggested the possibility of placing all donation boxes in a central location.
"Do we have a piece of property that we can set these on and say this is the donation area?" he asked.
Weber replied that some cities do.
Weber will take the council's suggestions and questions and city staffers will come up with a proposed ordinance in the future.
The council then voted unanimously to waive impact fees for new businesses in the downtown area for the next two years, as a way to lure new businesses to the area.
Rodney Hudson, a downtown property owner, thanked the council for the proposal.
"Waving these impact fees will make a difference and I think it's a positive move forward," he said.
Councilman Field Hudgens said he didn't think the move would have a big impact in the end, but still voted to approve the measure.
"I voted against this last time considering I don't think it will have such an impact in the way you guys really think it will," he said.