Council weighs work at airport

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Entrance improvements proposed; residents talk about city drilling rules

As City Council members prepared Tuesday afternoon for a contentious public hearing Tuesday night, they also told airport officials during a workshop session that they were ready to move ahead with improvements to the airport entrance.

Quentin Hix, the city’s director of aviation, said Denton Airport was waiting for the council’s direction on a new road that would connect south from Airport Road to Spartan Drive after the Airport Advisory Board was split on the issue.

Some board members said the new road, which could cost more than $180,000, would primarily benefit only one tenant.

Hix told the council that about $50,000 of the cost was drainage work that could be done by city crews instead of a contractor, which could save the city some money.

In addition, with the new road and accompanying signs, visitors should be better able to find their way around the airport, Hix said.

Each week, sometimes daily, people come into the terminal to get directions to businesses on the southern end, which requires them to go back out of the airport and come back in a different way, Hix said.

Mayor Pro Tem Pete Kamp said she saw the matter as a mobility issue.

“It’s more to do with access to the entire facility — and to facilitate growth,” Kamp said.

The council told airport officials in December to go ahead with plans to build a turnaround, bus stop and sculpture park at the entrance to Denton Airport, but they wanted to wait until the airport board revisited the issue regarding the new road.

The Airport Advisory Board had tabled it before and remained divided on the matter, Hix said.

The council then spent about 75 minutes in closed session on rewrites to the city’s rules for shale gas drilling and production before returning to open session.

Three residents waited to listen to the workshop discussion and waited through another closed session in order to participate in the city’s second public hearing on the rewrites, including Elma Walker, who lives at the Robson Ranch retirement community.

Walker began pressing the City Council for better rules nearly two years before the controversy erupted over the Rayzor Ranch drill site in 2009.

The new rules are better than what the city had before, Walker said, “but I’ll be asking — again — for a pipeline ordinance.”

The city’s new ordinance is silent on the matter.

The city staff presented the fifth draft of such rewrites since October for the council’s consideration Tuesday night.

Residents, frustrated by the city’s years-long process, came dressed in green and waited their turn to address the council.

By late Tuesday, many had, in an act of civil disobedience, gone over the three minutes allowed each person in the hearing and were being escorted out of the chambers by police.

One person led the audience in a chant and was escorted out.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is pheinkel-wolfe@dentonrc.com .

IN OTHER ACTION

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Denton City Council also:

•  Adopted a resolution requesting the governor and Texas Legislature to enact laws to limit predatory lending, requesting the Texas Municipal League to introduce and support such legislation, and supporting Austin, Dallas and San Antonio in their efforts to regulate the lending practices.

•  Amended the ordinance for Neighborhood Empowerment Program to restart the small grant program.

•  Rejected 10 proposals for a solar farm for the city.

•  Approved the assignment of a commercial operator airport lease agreement for John Selvidge, and a lease with VOW 210 Hickory Partners LLC for land at East Hickory and Industrial streets for an outdoor patio.

•  Awarded a three-year contract to the North Texas Umpire Association to officiate softball games for about $255,000, and a five-year contract for drug and alcohol testing services and physicals to Denton Regional Medical Center’s Occupational Medicine department for about $174,650.

•  Authorized an offer of $83,192 to purchase three tracts of about a half-acre needed to widen Mayhill Road.

— Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe


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