Alamo Heights Council’s Busy Agenda Caps 2015

The Alamo Heights City Council had a busy agenda during its final regular session of 2015 on Dec. 14.

The council upheld a recommendation by the city’s Architectural Review Board (ARB) to deny the placement of two monument signs at the new CVS store that just opened at Broadway and Burr Road. The store already had exterior signage up, but ARB members concluded that the new request exceeded what the city was allowing the pharmacy store chain to have at that street corner. “We’re not approving more signage than what was approved. They were basically asking for extra,” said City Manager Mark Browne. CVS has had to make concessions to make its new Alamo Heights store location work in what some city officials called a compact property. The property previously belonged to the University of the Incarnate Word.

cvsThe City Council made another change in its tree preservation ordinance, which has seen some revamping in recent months. In the fall, the city began revising its mitigation rules to make it easier for property owners who seek to get rid of trees, especially heritage trees, including a change in fees paid to the city.

In this latest round of revisions, the council voted to remove a cap on the number of trees in a multifamily development. Although it is not directly related, Browne said the change here could better accommodate developers who wish to build new multifamily properties in Alamo Heights. The city recently revamped its codes to make things more flexible for multifamily developers. The city has an ongoing tree preservation program that will continue through 2016, involving maintenance and trimming to be done in dormant stages to allow for a fuller overall tree canopy by springtime.

The new city hall opened last year. The project involving a newer, larger municipal complex included the city’s acquisition of a property at 213 Henderson to fit in more parking space. In December, the council also opted to move ahead with demolition of a vacant home at Henderson to make way for expanded parking and new landscaping at the nearby municipal facility. Browne said the project is estimated to cost $75,000 with much of the work to be performed by public works personnel. The project, which was scheduled to begin in late January, will result in 11 new parking spaces.

In other action, Phyllis Browning Ranch and Realty informed the city that it plans to build a two-story office building and develop a 26-space parking lot at 6061 Broadway.
The project must still go through the city’s ARB and commissions before the council gives a final approval. “It’s a matter of determining whether they will follow requirements for egress and ingress for fire and emergency vehicles. We’ll see all of that soon,” Browne said.

The council also approved having Alamo Heights join other cities such as Hollywood Park and Leon Valley in an interlocal agreement with Bexar County for goods and services. Thanks to that act, Alamo Heights is now part of a cooperative through which the city could save money and have access to more contractors and vendors when specific equipment is needed or a contract is put out to bid.

Although there is a monetary limit in these cases, the benefit for cities such as Alamo Heights is that, for example, contractors for a competitive bid are already vetted and scored by the county. That way, the county has already done work for the city. Additionally, where equipment vendors are concerned, the participant city may see more favorable pricing.

BY EDMOND ORTIZ

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