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Longview council members OK Fourth Street extension

By Richard Yeakley
Dec. 13, 2012 at 10 p.m.

In an effort to calm congestion and provide room for development in busy north Longview, the City Council agreed Thursday to work with a developer to extend Fourth Street north of Hawkins Parkway.

Richard Henson owns and hopes to develop a 50-acre tract of land next to Hinsley Park. To do that, he would extend Fourth Street through the tract of land to connect with U.S. 259.

The city agreed to spend up to $20,000 on the intersection at Hawkins Parkway and Fourth Street.

Council members also agreed, during the final council meeting of the year, to purchase the old National Guard Army on American Legion Boulevard.

The armory has been leased for several years by the city for use by the Longview Fire Department as a training facility. The property, which was being sold by the state of Texas, cost between $300,000 to $460,000, of which was approved by the Longview Economic Development Corp. at a board meeting Nov. 28. The city will pay the remaining $160,000.

"This again shows a great partnership between the city and LEDCO," said councilman Richard Manley. "Secondarily, it is a very critical piece of property ... It is a very fair price for what we are getting - we can't lose control of that piece of property."

The council heard an update from Assistant City Manager Chuck Ewings about the possibility and feasibility of developing a comprehensive long-term plan for the city.

Ewings said the plan would draw from current city plans - and the next step would be to appoint a committee and approve a consulting firm to help develop the all-encompassing 20-year plan for the city of Longview.

"Typically, what we have done in the past is have several different plans, but they don't necessarily complement each other," Shirley said. "This will take existing plans – find out how they complement each other... determine what they share that will carry the city toward the same vision ... all based on the needs of the community and the desires of the community."

The council was not asked, at this time, to take action on the proposed comprehensive plan.

Before recessing the meeting, Mayor Jay Dean reiterated the city's reasons for its policy on injured employees which resulted in the termination of former police officer Leigh Ann Snyder on Tuesday. Snyder was injured a year ago when her patrol car was slammed by a drunk driver and had been unable to return to work in the 12 months required by city policy.

"This has not been a very happy week for all of us on the City Council - due to the circumstances of the police officer Snyder," Dean said. "We try to always know that we have done the right thing for all of our citizens ... In dealing with the Longview Police Officers Association, several members in the leadership position expressed that they were very excited about the policy (when it was adjusted in 2007). It is unfortunate that they haven't stepped forward in support of what they felt like was a good program for the city and its employees."

In other business Thursday night, council members approved:

An amendment to Article 26 of the Historic Preservation of the City of Longview Zoning Ordinance so it would comply with standards set up by the Texas Historic Commission. The amendment allows the city to apply for certified local government status and will make the process of protecting historical buildings easier.

Four rezoning measures, including rezoning about .7 acres of land at the intersection of east George Richey and Gilmer roads from single family to general retail.

Spending $150,000 to renovate restrooms in the Longview Exhibit Building. Laura Hill, director of community services, told the council the restrooms, which are 50 to 60 years old, accommodated more than 120,000 visitors in the past budget year.

Spending $104,150 budgeted in the 2011-12 fiscal year for work on the new city compost facility, to improve land use.



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