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TCB gets new contract for

Monday, December 3, 2001 by

Northeast wastewater project

Goodman unhappy about how matrix is applied

The City Council took a few minutes last week to argue about which engineering firm should receive a $350,000 contract for the Northeast area interim wastewater treatment plant. The project is the initial city effort to provide wastewater service to areas between Highway 290 and Pflugerville, as well as the areas east and south of Manor, according to information provided by city staff.

Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman objected when the staff recommended that Turner Collie and Braden (TCB) receive the contract to provide preliminary engineering, bidding and construction phase services. TCB has a contract with the city for a total of $16 million for work on the South Austin regional project and last month that contract was amended for another $400,000. That amount was not counted, Goodman said, because it was an amendment, not a new contract. She said she had no problems with TCB, but felt that Brown and Caldwell, the firm that received the second highest rating, was treated unfairly by the way the matrix was scored. TCB received points for not having recently had a city contract, while Brown and Caldwell did not.

Pervez Jameel, the Brown and Caldwell representative, told the Council the company had not actually received any city money for more than five years, even though Brown and Caldwell is on the rotation list for city contracts. In addition, he complained that the company hadn’t received any money on a $1 million contract awarded for a project a few years ago that was subsequently scratched by city planners. Jameel said his company did not receive the appropriate number of points in categories relating to previous city work.

City staff members have discussed revising the matrix by which points are awarded to help resolve the issues troubling Goodman. Jerry Harris, attorney for TCB, said the matrix takes into account the last time that an original contract was awarded, but not amendments. He said the rule has always been applied that way. While TCB expects the rule to change, he said, company officials bid on the contract believing that they would get full credit in that category because they had not received a new contract since 1996. Brown and Caldwell could not have outscored TCB, he said, unless Brown and Caldwell received full credit for not having contracted for city work within the past five years and TCB had lost points for its contract amendment.

City Manager Jesus Garza said the staff would be looking at ways to amend the matrix, but did not want the rules to be changed midstream. Several Council members echoed his remarks. Goodman said she wasn’t trying to change the rules; her objection was that the scores were misleading. Goodman abstained, with the rest of the Council voting 6-0 for TCB.

Planning Commission approves

Holly Neighborhood Plan, zoning

Council may hear case this week

The Planning Commission last week unanimously approved both the Holly Neighborhood Plan and the rezoning recommended by city staff to implement the plan. Only a few opponents, mostly members of El Concilio political organization, showed up to fight the zoning changes. Neighborhood plan proponents, on the other hand, made a good showing. The commission had previously postponed action because of concerns that neighbors were not informed of the plan and that the staff had not done sufficient outreach. Last week, several members of the commission complimented staff members for their efforts.

The Holly plan area includes properties bounded by Chicon, 7th St., Pleasant Valley Rd. and Town Lake. Mario Flores with the Neighborhood Planning & Zoning Department told commissioners the plan was the culmination of 18 months of hard work, and an additional outreach session to insure stakeholder involvement mandated by the commission. He said, “One stakeholder even circulated through the neighborhood with a bullhorn announcing the [most recent] meeting.”

Neighborhood leader Vicky Gomez urged the commission to move forward with the plan. She said it represents “a great opportunity for us . . . to show that this plan has been developed. It includes everybody and speaks to what the community wants.”

Opponents Gavino Fernandez, Paul Hernandez and Tim Mater asked for more time. They said they needed it to gather signatures for a valid petition against the zoning changes. Having already postponed the item once to get more neighborhood input, the commission refused their request.

Commissioner Lydia Ortiz made the motion to approve the plan and associated zoning changes. She said, “The rezonings seem to bring a significant amount of order to this neighborhood. They represent compromises on the part of all parties. Commissioner Chris Riley agreed, saying, “Requests for postponement were not made in order to create a better plan, but in order to block the plan. It seems just like an aversion to change, and we need to respect those in the neighborhood who want to work cooperatively.”

Commissioner Cynthia Medlin, who lives in the Dawson Neighborhood, said her experience in neighborhood planning leads her to “an extreme aversion” to uncoupling the neighborhood plan and associated zoning changes.

Commissioner Dave Sullivan said his neighborhood has allowed small lot amnesty and garage apartments, even though some residents feared the worst from such changes. He said their fears were overblown and that the change has had a positive effect on the neighborhood. Sullivan amended the motion to include wording recommending “the speedy closure of the Holly power plant.” He had wanted to include a statement that citizens would be willing to make economic sacrifices to close the plant, but Ortiz and Riley would not accept that part of the amendment.

The City Council is scheduled to consider the plan and associated zoning cases this Thursday.

Neighborhood sub-districts set

For study by staff, commission

Process will not be a quick one

The City Council voted unanimously last week to direct city staff to look at sub-districts for the neighborhood planning process. The planning staff has not been receptive to the idea, which a couple of recently planned neighborhoods requested. Some neighborhoods have said they would like to allow garage apartments and small lot amnesty in some defined sub-districts, for example, but not in others.

Council Member Raul Alvarez noted the lengthy process necessary to bring changes to the City Council. He said any proposal would have to go through the Planning Commission. “But I want to make sure that however we define (sub-districts) that it’s going to be appropriate. I’m not necessarily saying that I support this idea before I know how it’s going to work, but I think it is something we should look at and define really well.”

Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman said she agreed with Alvarez. She stressed that the direction to staff would only begin the process of amending the Land Development Code. “The whole comprehensive discussion of what in fact we may mean by the word sub-district within a Neighborhood Plan will begin to be discussed when we pass this resolution.”

City Manager Jesus Garza said, city staff “wanted to make sure that we worked on that criteria,” for sub-districts, “because there would be some unintended consequences if that criteria is not tight in terms of what you’re trying to get done.”

2001 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

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