By Jackie Stone
The Cove Herald
KEMPNER - Larger business developments in Kempner will likely face increased city fees in the future after the city council approved new building permit costs Tuesday night.
Currently, the permit cost for any building larger than 2,500 square feet is $150, leaving developers of smaller structures to pay the same price as bigger commercial structures.
Mayor Gene Isenhour said when the fees were originally set, "we were primarily concerned with residential construction."
With some developments as large as 9,000 square feet being built in the city, officials decided to adjust pricing to take larger structures into account. Under the ordinance approved Tuesday, building permit fees would be incrementally increased for construction between 2,501 and 10,000 square feet.
The cost would remain $150 for structures from 2,501 to 5,000 square feet in the new fee schedule. Building permits for structures from 5,001 to 7,500 square feet would cost $200, and $250 for buildings between 7,501 and 10,000 square feet. Permits for anything larger would be $300.
In other action, the council approved two items related to a planned Dollar General store for which the council previously approved a subdivision agreement with the developer.
On Tuesday, members approved a variance to the city's sign ordinance allowing the chain store to use its standard 150-square-foot sign on the face of the building. The current ordinance limits signs to 60 square feet.
The council also approved a resolution for the annexation of the 1.82 acres on U.S. Highway 190 the developer has purchased for construction. The council will have two public hearings on the annexation on April 13 and April 27 before final approval.
Isenhour also updated council members on ongoing construction at the Sylvia Tucker Memorial Park on Taylor Creek off U.S. Highway 190.
The curb and gutter for the parking lot and driveway were installed over the weekend, Isenhour said. Once the parking lot is backfilled and graded, the city plans to generally leave the park open for public use on days when there is no major construction.
The next priority will be pouring sidewalks and pads for the picnic area. Isenhour also told the council that he may soon ask the council to consider dipping into reserve funds to complete construction rather than wait for funds to become available as was planned. The veterans memorial has been finished, but the overall plans for the park include picnic areas, a playground and a basketball court.
The 36th Engineer Brigade, which was partnered with the city for construction of the park and attached veterans memorial, deployed to Iraq last week. The volunteer help from Fort Hood limited the city's costs to supplies rather than supplies and labor.
While a rear detachment at Fort Hood has volunteered for the time being, Isenhour advised the council that the city may want to get as much of the rest of the park finished while it has volunteer labor and cooperative weather available.
"It is possible I may be addressing the council on that at a later date," Isenhour said.
He also reminded the council that anyone who wants to have a memorial brick placed in the park's veteran's memorial before Memorial Day must do so by the end of April.
Filing for city elections closed Monday. Two council seats and the mayor's office were open for candidates. Incumbent Mayor Gene Isenhour, 58, Place 5 Councilwoman Melba Vandeveer and Place 1 Councilman Paul Cook all filed for re-election with no challengers.
The earliest the city can cancel elections is March 30, Isenhour said. If no election is held, the city will save about $3,500.