How the City of Deer Park communicates with residents was one of the most discussed issues at the last Deer Park City Council meeting. A number of committees are in the works for the future of Deer Park including the city pool and the City Hall building. There was also a moment of silence for Don Stevens.
Mayor Verzal started the meeting by announcing that Don Stevens had passed away. He asked for a moment of silence for Don before the invocation. Don Stevens served on the Deer Park City Council for 20 years. He was involved in many other ways throughout the community. There will be a memorial service for Don on Saturday, 2pm, January 8th, at Open Door Congregational Church.
You can watch a video of the entire meeting on our YouTube channel or at the bottom of this article.
Zoning Map Amendment
The ordinance will change a part of Storage Solutions property from a Business Park Zone to a Diversified Commercial Zone. Briefly reading the title of the ordinance to amend the zoning map, the Mayor completed the first reading. The second reading and public hearing will likely be held at the next scheduled city council meeting.
Three Reading Process & Council Agenda
The proposed ordinance would remove the three reading process which splits announcement, public hearing, and council discussion & vote between three meetings. As proposed the ordinance is currently written, all future ordinances could be passed in a single meeting. The city is only required to post one notification in the Spokesman-Review if state law requires it. The city will also announce ordinances within the council meeting agendas published the Friday before the meeting.
Councilmember Stapp utilized a provision in the current three reading process to ask questions about the proposed ordinance. Stapp pointed out that council members would not be able to follow up with the residents after a public hearing to learn more about their thoughts and opinions. Stapp also expressed concern about the loss of communication as a result of the proposed ordinance and discussed using emails and text messages for notifications to the public.
Rather than discard a law protecting citizens Stapp suggested an amendment to require a supermajority vote in order to waive the three readings.
During Councilmember reports, Councilmember Heather Newsom expressed concern about the city’s communications and needing time to consider new ordinances. She said “We can say we need to communicate, but we all know it’s not happening the way it should.”
Save The Date!
Planning Commission Appointment
As part of the Consent Agenda, Billy Costello was appointed to the Planning Commission. There was a very brief discussion about a potential for conflict of interest as Costello also serves on the Deer Park Chamber of Commerce Board. The Mayor indicated that there would not be a conflict of interest.
Councilmember Jason Upchurch brought up the city pool and planning for the future. Upchurch requested the creation of a committee to develop a plan for the city pool. The Mayor stated that he will be assigning committees in February.
Councilmember Helen “Dee” Cragun talked about not making decisions based upon the feedback and opinion of residents.
Councilmember Stapp gave an update on the committee to develop plans for the City Hall building. The Mayor stated that all committees would be formalized in February or soon after.
Councilmember Ron Scholz welcomed Upchurch and Newsom to the council. He also thanked the city crews for their work on the city streets removing snow even on Christmas Day.