The developers of the proposed Retreat at Sealy multi-family development planned for property near Cryan Park asked the Sealy City Council for permission to install a drainage easement to the park’s pond, but the council would rather have them buy the strip of land instead.
The city council took up the request at its Dec. 17 meeting and debated for more than 30 minutes about the various rights and responsibilities of granting an easement before finally passing a motion to approve the request contingent on the developer buying the narrow strip of land for drainage at fair market value. The whole process included a motion that failed, another motion that died for lack of a second, and a third motion that passed with Councilmember Larry Koy opposing. Mayor Janice Whitehead was absent from the meeting and did not vote.
The land the proposed 196-unit apartment complex would be built on already free-flow drains into the pond.
“This is a situation that’s a little more unusual than anyone walking up and wanting a drainage easement,” said Dane Rice with Wilson Engineering. “This is a client that has the storage capacity reserved in a tract of land that they’ve dedicated to the city. All he’s wanting to do is transfer that water across that tract dedicated to the city to the detention pond that they dug. They have the right to sheet flow this water if we want to do that across this site which is more of a hinderance to the city. By dedicating the drainage easement, which is the staff recommendation on how to handle this water, we can concentrate it to keep the backside of the pool area and back behind the memorial park area, all of that can be dry and we can prevent the water from going to it.”
“What’s proposed is 30-foot wide by 3-foot deep, so a pretty shallow swale,” said Warren Escovy, who is the assistant city manager and the city’s planning director.
Escovy said the pond currently has 12 acre-feet of detention, half of which is committed to Town Park Center. The remaining six would be used by Valbridge Properties to develop the Retreat at Sealy.
“My only concern is, I don’t have a problem accessing the acreage drainage that’s in there, but I feel like the city needs to be compensated for granting an easement because this is giving a private individual a benefit,” Councilmember Jennifer Sullivan said. “So I think before we do this, to be fair to others that would want a similar situation, we should work out some kind of compensation to the city.”
Councilmember Koy said he would prefer that the drainage by directed through pipes underground.
“Where the water comes down the property line and turns towards the box inlets, that’s actually where the flow comes off of the school so it’s already “creek flow” but it’s spread out … 100 feet wide coming through there, so putting it underground isn’t going to benefit anything because that ground’s going to be inundated with water,” explained Steve Wilson of Wilson Engineering.
Councilmember Chris Noack made a motion to approve the request, but the motion failed.
The council discussed having the developer buy the easement from the city, but that raised questions of fair market value and a purchase price.
Sullivan made a motion to have the developer get an appraisal for the purchase price of the easement, but her motion died for lack of a second. After more discussion, Noack made a motion to approve the easement contingent on the developer paying fair market value for the land for the easement. That motion passed with Koy objecting.
The next item on the agenda was approval of the final plat for the Retreat at Sealy, which passed with little discussion.
In other action, the council:
• Approved authorizing the city manager to enter into a demand response contract with Voltus, which allows the company to turn on city generators to provide power during peak demand times for electricity usage, thus saving the city and electricity users money;
• Postponed a property line variance because the wrong address was listed on the form;
• Approved a performance reimbursement agreement between the Sealy EDC and CCA Southeast, the contractor for Hailiang Copper Texas, for direct pay administration;
• Approved Sealy EDC funding for $53,612.52 to reimburse the city for obligations under Prasek’s 380 agreement;
• Approved an ordinance amending the Sealy EDC’s 2019-202 budget;
• Created a building advisory committee to study space needs for city hall;
• Directed staff to seek bids for the city’s comprehensive plan; and
• Directed staff to start the competitive bidding process for track renovations at B&PW park and an addition to the city barn.
In his city manager’s report, Lloyd Merrel said Bobby Seiferman has been hired as the new Main Street Program director. He will start Jan. 7.
At the start of the meeting, Human Resources Administrator Kim Kaiser and Mayor Pro-tem Sandra Vrablec presented five city employees with 2019 service awards. Recognized for five years of service were Ivan Tapia and Ana Casique. Recogntion for 10 years of service went to Natalie Tiemann, Lawrence Siska and Keith Drlik.