BY JUDY SHERIDAN
The Aledo City Council negotiated a final concept plan for the Brookhollow subdivision, approved a water and sewer rate study with no rate increase and gave an enthusiastic thumbs up to a plan for the Aledo Trail “grounds” area — which includes a skate park — in action Thursday.
Brookhollow, to be located on South FM 1187 next to the railroad tracks, won approval for its planned development concept plan — initially tabled by the council — after developer Kenny Ozee revised it according to council concerns.
Revisions included specifying tree locations and agreeing to a council-approved tree species list; leaving a 4-foot strip of land between the curb and the sidewalk; upgrading mailboxes; building an 8-foot — instead of a 6-foot — masonry wall along the railroad tracks; constructing a 6-foot stone and wood fence along the south property line; restricting lots that border the centrally-located open space to wrought iron fencing; installing carriage-style garage doors exclusively; varying home elevations; and varying garage setbacks.
Ozee also employed surveyor Patrick Carter to find out whether Aledo-Bear Creek Road — south of Brookhollow — was public or private, responding to county resident Karen Zambrano.
At an earlier council session, Zambrano asked if the “driveway” she and others have maintained would be blocked during construction.
Carter said deeds and maps show Aledo-Bear Creek to be the remains of a county road — not privately owned — but Ozee said he would not create another entry there.
“I have no plans of blocking her drive or entering the subdivision using that road,” he said.
The developer did not increase narrow lot sizes, however, saying homeowners would prefer the neighborhood had a large open space instead.
Ozee, whose development required the annexation of about 13 acres, pointed to his “significant investments” expanding city water and sewer services, saying it would open another 200 acres up for development.
He said the 127-lot subdivision — with its small commercial section — would add $27 million to the ad valorem tax base at build out.
“We’re building the houses, and you will be proud of the finished product,” he said, referring to himself and Peter Paulsen and the Versailles, Bella Flora and Bella Ranch neighborhoods.
Water and sewer rates
As predicted during budget discussions, rate consultant Chris Ekrut, of J Stowe & Co, recommended no increase in the city’s water and sewer rates for fiscal year 2014.
Keeping the status quo is possible, Ekrut said, because of the city’s decision to set aside $150,000 from reserves and $400,000 in impact fees to meet debt service requirements.
Those requirements stipulate that total revenues — after first covering the cost of providing services — must be equal to 1.1 times the annual debt service payment.
Without adding the reserves and fees to the revenues from water/sewer customers, Ekrut said, the city’s customers would face a 5.5 percent increase this year.
“It’s nice to avoid increases by using the resources available to us,” councilman Kerby Smith said. “We need to continue to challenge ourselves to move down the list.”
According to figures collected by Ekrut, the average total monthly bill for a water/sewer customer using 5,000 gallons is $83.35 for Aledo, compared with $109.16 for Annetta; $103.41 for Willow Park; $91.45 for Hudson Oaks; $75.59 for Springtown; $72.11 for Azle; and $67.52 for Weatherford.
For an Aledo water/sewer customer using 10,000 gallons, the average monthly bill of $146.61 tops the list, with Azle at the bottom with an average monthly bill of $106.84.
The council has signed off on a design concept for “The Grounds,” a 2-acre area inside the Aledo Trail downtown couplet.
Rebecca Pittman, a landscape architect with Freese & Nichols, presented a 300-seat amphitheater which would double as a “skateable streetscape;” a 2,800-square-foot covered pavilion; restrooms with eight fixtures; public art; and a veteran’s memorial, to include flags and plaques.
The elements are placed into active and passive spaces bisected by a 20-foot easement.
The design limits parking spaces to 19, but officials discussed eliminating an oak tree to increase the number by three or four spaces.
The elements will be phased, with the passive space south of the easement first, including the pavilion, memorial and concrete stairway. They will be followed by the restrooms and parking lot, with the amphitheater/skatepark last.
“I’m a pretty creative guy, and I could not have come up with a better plan,” councilman Matt Casey enthused. “I think this is pretty much our park.”
City Administrator Ken Pfeifer said the next step will be determining how to fund the improvements.