The Houston Board of Aldermen scheduled five property clean-up hearings Tuesday night and discussed the need to improve the quality of life in Houston by improving the quality and appearance of neighborhoods through code enforcement. They then voted in all five cases to give owners extensions to clean up their property.
Property hearing set for the May 6 meeting by name and property were:
• Randy Kirby, Daniel Boone St.
• Ricky Kimble/DBA Crye-Leike, 442 East Madison St.
• Shenia K. Jones, 222 South Pontotoc St.
• John Ivy, 132 Gladney Drive.
• Sherry Chrestman, 112 Dulaney St.
Kirby was given a 60-day continuance, since his property also included a zoning violation. The rest were given a 30-day extension to clean up or improve their property.
The board had previously voted 3-2 to allow Kirby to have a second trailer on property zoned Residential One (R-1) which only allows one dwelling per lot.
Ward 2 Alderman Shenia K. Jones, Ward 4 Alderman Willie Mae McKinney and Alderman-At-Large Barry Springer voted to allow that variance. Ward 1 Alderman Tony Uhiren and Ward 3 Alderman Frank Thomas voted against it.
“He made the mistake of putting a house there before he got a permit,” said Springer. “And yes, it is at the gateway to the Tanglefoot Trail, but if you look at his property and then look at other property along the trail, his is not the worst.”
Uhiren pointed out the city is enforcing ordinances on some people and not on others.
“We made one lady who had property zoned for one house, move a house, and she did,” said Uhiren. “If we are not going to enforce our ordinances, why have them. You can’t just let people do what they want to do in a neighborhood.”
Shenia Jones, who is the sister of Randy Kirby, said she was partial to family and felt all in Houston understand that.
“When this board starts telling people what to do with their property, we need to regroup,” said Jones. “I am all for moving this city forward, but we also need to do what is right and best for that situation.”
Springer said he has voted for variances and extensions and has also been told by the city to build to code on his property.
“We’ve got to draw a line and stop people from moving in without a permit,” said Springer. “We need to tell folks they either abide by the permit process or they stay out of Houston.”
Springer said he was concerned with several neighborhoods in apparent decline around the city.
“Our ordinances have been trampled on for years and if we are not going to enforce them neighborhoods are going to look worse,” said Springer. “Houses are being built in the county and there is a reason for that.”
As of the 2000 U.S. Census, there were 4,079 people, 1,589 households, and 1,088 families residing in the city. The population was 3,623 at the 2010 census with 1,380 households and 934 families residing in the city limits.
“If we are going to apply these ordinances to people, they need to apply to everybody,” said Jones.
“I agree and it needs to start here,” said Springer.
Aldermen also voted to begin charging a $50 code enforcement administrative fee on property that is repeatedly cited by Houston Code Enforcement Officer Dewayne Weaver. The fee will start at $50 for a second citation and increase $50 for each additional citation.
The opening of the Tanglefoot Trail prompted the city to begin enforcing health and safety concerns on commercial property fronting the trail. Many of those factories and building have cleaned up their property.