The Mineral Wells city council Tuesday voted against amending an ordinance that would have allowed a protein conversion facility off of Grant Road.

Texas Renewables, LLC, a facility that received and converts raw blood into an alternative form of protein that can be used as an additive in other products such as pet food, or as an organic fertilizer, expressed interest in purchasing the property near Fort Wolters several weeks ago. That use is not allowed under the city’s zoning ordinance. The city’s planning and zoning board met July 6 to consider amending the ordinance, unanimously voting to recommend approval by city council.

Mayor Tammy Underwood and council members cited numerous concerns they had, noting that this type of business doesn’t fit in the city’s overall plan.

“We’re wanting to be a tourist town and I don’t believe that type of company is what we need,” Underwood said.

Another council member expressed concern that changing the zoning for this business would open the door for future businesses to do the same.

“Mineral Wells is not an anti-business community, but I have not heard from one person who thinks this is a good idea,” council member Beth Henary Watson said.

The council unanimously voted down the amendment following a public hearing portion, at which no one spoke.

The council also held a public hearing regarding an extension of approximately 2,263 acres to the city’s Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, as well as extending the TIRZ duration another 15 years (from 2029 to 2044) following a presentation by Economic Development Director David Hawes.

“When we put together the economic development plan, we made several recommendations to make TIRZ more workable for the community as a whole,” Hawes said. “We set this up where if we can get developers to come in and develop, we can enter into a development agreement where they rest their dollars on behalf of the city to put in public infrastructure, then we work together on a plan that ties all this together for the future. Not for next year, not in five years, but 10, 15, 20 years from now.”

The plan includes a focus on mobility and connectivity; public infrastructure; historic preservation, cultural and public facilities; housing; economic development; parks, plazas, open spaces and public art.

The TIRZ was created by council in August 2008.

The 2,200-plus proposed expansion includes parks (West City Park, TFT, Western Heritage Park) the Mineral Wells Airport, Industrial Park and Cullen Grimes Elementary School.

Watson suggested including Southeast Park to the area, and the amended ordinance was unanimously approved.

Hawes emphasized that anything that goes through TIRZ will have to go before the city council for approval.

“The TIRZ board is not a carte blanche board, it can’t go out and do whatever it wants,” he said. “It’s a component unit of the city, a special revenue fund of the city.”

The estimated project costs are $60.75 million over the next 25 years, and include infrastructure improvement; streetscape improvements; parks, plazas and open space; economic development; historic preservation and cultural/public facilities; and project management. 

Estimated non-project costs total about $1.1 million. These numbers won’t be funded by the TIRZ but will be funded by other parties including the city, county, TxDOT or private sources.

Hawes said the next step would be to sit down with each of the taxing jurisdictions and get an amended participation agreement.

The council also heard from Mineral Wells Police Chief Dean Sullivan regarding an interlocal agreement between police and Palo Pinto County on relocation for the joint narcotics unit.

“In 2006, the city and county entered into a joint partnership to attempt to address drug crimes in the area, not just in city proper,” Sullivan said. “Over the years, there have been a couple of other amendments to this agreement, and [this] agreement is essentially the same, restating the relevant points, but with particular notation to the change in location.”

Palo Pinto County recently acquired property, located at 100 SE 6th Ave., with the intention to relocate some county functions into that building, including the city/county narcotics operation.

“Under the new interlocal agreement, the county has proposed to take over all maintenance costs — insurance, utilities — and those are costs right now that we share right now.”

The new agreement, which was approved 4-0 by council, will save the city approximately $16,000 in annual expenses, while retaining the annual reimbursement for the salary and benefits of the CCNU commander’s position up to one half of said costs, not to exceed $42,000 per year for each entity.

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