Brookshire moves forward with comprehensive plan

By R. Hans Miller | Times Senior Reporter
Posted 5/7/20

In an online and teleconferenced meeting, the Brookshire City Council approved the draft of the city’s new comprehensive plan to be forwarded to state officials for review. City officials also …

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Brookshire moves forward with comprehensive plan

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In an online and teleconferenced meeting, the Brookshire City Council approved the draft of the city’s new comprehensive plan to be forwarded to state officials for review. City officials also discussed implementation of a fencing ordinance and animal control services as well as terminating the city’s solid waste company, Republic Services.

Strategic Planning

“The plan has about twelve chapters. The first parts are the (basic) chapters which are population, land use and housing then we have the infrastructure chapter – the water, sewer, street and drainage, and then we did special studies for economic development and parks and recreation,” said Carlos Beceiro, a planner with GrantWorks, a consulting firm based in Austin.

Beceiro said the city’s current estimated population of 5,741 is expected to grow to 6,679 by 2030. Beceiro said the firm had examined population and growth in order to determine if the city’s infrastructure would support the growth coming to the city in the decade to come.

Beceiro said the city needed to add at least 386 new housing units, as well as repair, remove or replace others. Of the homes in the city, 12% are considered substandard housing and 19% are manufactured homes, he said. Beceiro said that the numbers showed the city’s housing situation was relatively healthy.

“As far as the major recommendations in the housing chapter, we recommend (the city of Brookshire) participate in the HOME program to help renovate or rehabilitate or replace dilapidated and substandard homes; continue to pursue code enforcement for manufactured housing, dangerous buildings and floodplains,” Beceiro said.

Encouraging voluntary removal of dilapidated structures or housing by residents is also recommended, Beceiro said.

He also suggested the city monitor occupancy and vacancy rates of rental housing to ensure staff and council knew what the supply and demand for rentals was. That included information on land availability and utility rates and capacity being monitored for planning purposes. He also recommended Brookshire officials network with both private and government organizations to obtain assistance in planning development of housing in the city.

“Besides all that, of course the city should support fair housing initiatives,” Beceiro said.

Most of the city’s more than 2200 acres is undeveloped or semi-developed land, Beceiro said, most of which is vacant. Of the developed land, 362 acres are single family housing, 293 acres of commercial acreage and 154 acres of industrial use, Beceiro said. About 376 acres of land in the city is within the city limits and within a 100-year floodplain with 381 single-family homes in the floodplain, 98% of which were occupied, he said.

“Basically, you have plenty of room to accommodate that projected 16% population increase by 2030, so that’s good,” Beceiro said.

Beceiro said GrantWorks was recommending the city continue enforcement of the dangerous buildings and floodplain ordinances as it moves forward. He also recommended pursuing grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to manage usage of properties in floodplains. Encouraging residents to do their own cleanups through yard of the month or best maintained property of the month were also recommended along with self-assessment surveys for residents to be prompted to examine their properties and make repairs on their own, he said.

The city’s water district is in compliance with all of the requirements of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality at this point in time, Beceiro said. However, some water mains were smaller than the two-inch lines recommended by the TCEQ.

Beceiro said he recommended adding 18 new fire hydrants along six-inch waterlines, add an additional well as a long-term project, and replacement of about 6,500 feet of undersized lines to prepare for added population and ensure resident safety. Lines would be replaced on Tenth through Thirteenth streets and along Cooper Road and Fort Streets.

Brookshire’s sewer system was found to be sensitive to rain events, Beceiro said.

“It was built in the 50s. Collection systems of that age typically experience a significant amount of (system) infiltration and you guys are having some of those problems,” Beceiro said.

Beceiro recommended repairing or replacing old pipes and manholes to reduce infiltration into the system, making improvements to sewer lift stations to protect them from flooding and replacing about 38,500 feet of sewer lines, 88 manholes. The work would be done in stages, Beceiro said.

Drainage is a concern for the city due to its flat topography, Beceiro said. The flat area and obstructions such as railroad and street embankments make portions of the city prone to flooding, he said. Neighborhoods near Westbrook Mobile Home Park and the area surrounding the Brookshire City Office are most susceptible to flooding, he said.

GrantWorks recommended repairing existing drainage infrastructure and maintaining draining ditches to control erosion, Beceiro said. These activities would need to be coordinated with the Brookshire Katy Drainage District. Recommended projects would include constructing a detention pond near the downtown area and replacing more than 30 culverts throughout the city. Improving drainage would also help prevent damage to streets, he said.

Streets were overall in good condition, Beceiro said, but some streets do need repaving and the city needs to create a maintenance program for city roadways, Beceiro said. About 71,500 linear feet total of streets would need actual replacement overall, he said. This would also be done in stages, he said.

Economically, Beceiro said Brookshire is a strong member of the Greater Houston economy with strong manufacturing similar to the rest of Waller County. He said he expects that to continue.

“As far as employment is concerned, the major industry in town that employs people is retail trade and that followed by services, then education like the school … and then manufacturing is the fourth largest,” Beceiro said.

GrantWorks was recommending focusing on building up businesses that are already present in the city and recruiting new companies, with the focus mostly being oriented toward existing companies. The company also recommended city officials network with or join regional and statewide organizations to help with economic development.

“The major recommendation we have … is to enable local entrepreneurship and help the existing companies in the city expand rather than trying to recruit too much,” Beceiro said.

Arts and entertainment is one of the smallest industries for the city, he said.

An evaluation of the city’s parks and recreation facility showed that the city needs more outdoor entertainment areas, Beceiro said.  

“There are two different ways we look at parks. We look at standards-based assessments and a demand-based assessment,” Beceiro said.

The city needs more basketball and volleyball courts, Beceiro said. Playgrounds, picnic tables and picnic areas were also low for both current and future populations, he said. The recommendation for acreage is five to 15 acres of park space per 1,000 people, but the city currently only has about 4 acres per 1,000 people. If no park space is added by 2030, that number would drop even further to 3.8 acres, he said.

“So, (Brookshire) could really use another park,” Beceiro said.

Beceiro recommended the city apply for a grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife to upgrade existing parks this fall, then in 2023 to apply again to improve parks again and finally in 2026 to apply again to improve Discovery Park.

“And then in 2028, we would recommend creation of a new park in northeast Brookshire to serve the population there,” Beceiro said.

The plan also had recommendations on ordinance updates which were mostly changes in the way ordinances were organized and fixing all typos throughout the ordinances, Beceiro said.

Other matters

Brookshire City Council also discussed the need to develop an animal control facility for the city and staffing for the department.

Alderwoman Kim Branch said the city had a need the day of the meeting, but with the city’s current facility shut down and unmanned, there was no internal way to meet the need.

City staff said advertisement of potential contract to request bids for an animal control facility, but they needed specifications to advertise first. Specifications were expected to come in within the next week, they said.

City Attorney Justin Pruitt of Olson and Olson, LLP said an ordinance regarding fencing standards was also under development. If enacted, the new city rule would establish standards for fencing and require permits if more than 20 feet of fencing was replaced in a six-month period.

Council also authorized Pruitt to send a letter to Republic Services, the city’s solid waste vendor, to notify them of termination of the contract with the city at the contract’s September expiration date. Council members discussed complaints about the service and Pruitt advised them that sending a letter to terminate did not mean that Republic Services could not be awarded a contract to continue providing services after the September cancellation.

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