At the January 11 city council meeting, Jacksonville Economic Development Corporation President Shane Pace presented the city council with the second reading of a resolution regarding the expenditure of JEDCO funds, not to exceed $1.6 million. dollars. The money would be used to purchase the Cherokee Ranch Golf Course, approximately 187 acres of real estate.
“Currently, JEDCO is working with Cherokee Ranch Golf Inc. They are the company that currently operates the facility today. We are working on a long term rental agreement with them and believe we have accepted this agreement.
“The purchase is not finalized at this time. We are still in the process of negotiating and finalizing all necessary agreements for this transaction. The due diligence period ends on January 27 of this year. If this resolution is approved this evening, approving these expenditures, it is anticipated that closing will occur around mid-February 2022.”
The Board approved JEDCO’s expenditures for the purchase of the golf course.
In a separate JEDCO case, the council cleared the company’s rejection of all bids for the Community Development Block Grant project for new downtown sidewalks. The grant was awarded through the Texas Department of Agriculture in November 2021. However, the bids received were sufficiently over budget, approximately 43% above the estimated costs, and it was decided to relaunch the project.
City manager James Hubbard said new bids would open on February 1 and, if a contract was awarded, expected the project to start in April or May.
Two rezoning applications, previously adopted by the planning and zoning council, have been approved by the council.
The first request was made by Ronald Boren who requested a change, from B-One and Two Family zoning to G-Commercial, for the properties at 500, 530 and 548 James St., located behind the Boren-Conner Funeral Home . The reason for the request has been indicated as a future development.
Sue Byers, a neighbor of the property in question and who had voiced her opposition at the planning and zoning hearing, told council she was against rezoning. She was concerned about the lack of purpose.
“How do we know it will be a benefit to our community if we don’t know what’s going on there?” she asked. “Is it going to be good for Jacksonville? Will it be good for our neighborhood?
She said the board was voting blind with no description of the type of business.
Following Byers’ comments, Boren addressed the board.
“I have no intention of putting anything in there that could harm anyone in the neighborhood,” he said. “I have options to do with this property.”
He said his daughter lives in the community and has associates who want to go into business with her, indicating an office could be built.
The council elected, by a vote of 4 to 1, to authorize the zoning change. Councilwoman Mindy Gellock, representing District 2, was the lone dissenter.
The second application was for a change from K-Industrial to A-1 Single Family for approximately 1.77 acres at the southwest corner of Bonner and Zimmerman streets. Mike McEwen, representing the plaintiff, addressed counsel.
“A gentleman who acquires the property will build eight houses on this land. Of course, once that’s approved, he’ll have to get a new survey to do a subdivision there,” McEwen said.
“It will greatly improve the neighborhood.”
No one present spoke in favor or against this rezoning request and the council authorized the change.
Verizon Wireless has requested that its application for a special use permit for the construction of a cell tower be filed. After discovering a tower nearby, they would like time to investigate the possibility of using the existing tower before moving forward.
Other items approved by the board were:
• A contract with MPA Fireworks for an amount not exceeding $20,000 and to be reimbursed by the Jacksonville Lake Association for the July 4 show; and
• A berm of four properties in Lake Jacksonville.
Under the approved consent program, city staff were authorized to demolish the Central Fire Station. The fire department is moving to the new public safety complex and the demolition of the old building will make way for an expanded green space next to Hazel Tilton Park.
Pace presented the Company of the Month award to Bannister Plumbing. He spoke of his own experience with the company, praising their friendly and professional manner. He went on to say that the company started with two employees and grew to over 70.
“They’re in partnership with JEDCO right now,” Pace said. “They are currently in the process of expanding their business even further. They move into the old Stencor building north of town.
They continue to invest in our community, to invest in their business and JEDCO is happy to be a partner with them.
Sandra Dickerson of the Jacksonville Garden Club addressed the council, beginning with praise for all the good work that has been seen in the city. She then shared her concerns about the need for improved facilities in the city’s parks, including new playground equipment and a new roof for the Buckner Park gazebo, as well as water and electricity at Bolton Park. Dickerson also noted the need for better street lighting downtown and expressed a desire for Christmas lighting.
“We’re always looking to try to beautify where we can and where we can afford it, so we’d appreciate any consideration,” Dickinson said.
The city manager reported that active COVID cases in the county have reached more than 300, with more than 80 cases inside the city.
Hubbard noted that policing and emergency communications have moved to the new Public Safety Complex. The firefighters were moving.
It was also reported that utility billing would be moved to the City Hall Annex, allowing for in-person and drive-thru service.
Hubbard also said postcards have been sent to local businesses about the new sign ordinance and how it affects them.
He pointed to the City Council Minute, a video summarizing city council meetings, posted on the city’s Facebook page to keep citizens informed.