Council takes over lighting for Old Town, approves series of economic agreements in first meeting with iLegislate voting system

Lewisville City Hall. (Photo by Adonis Carcamo)

Lewisville City Council met Monday evening and approved a lighting agreement that will see the city take over outdoor lighting for certain buildings in Old Town, as well as several economic development agreements. This also marked the first meeting where council used the iLegislate voting system to record their actions. Councilmember Brent Daniels was not in attendance.

The lighting agreement, which was between the city, Main & Mill Business Association and property owners in Old Town, stems from a 2016 proposal by the association that requested the city take over the lighting. The agreement would have the city replace the current decorative string lights installed with programmable LED ones, similar to the lights currently installed on the roofline of City Hall and the MCL Grand, according to background material. Staff has been negotiating with individual owners of buildings to approve the plan and now have enough on board to implement the plans. The vote from Monday makes the city the sole owner and operator of the lights.

Also approved on the night were a series of economic development agreements. Most notably included a intergovernmental grant for the Valley Ridge extension, which will reimburse the city $1.3 million from the North Central Texas Council of Governments. This agreement was to help pay for the project that expanded Valley Ridge Boulevard from Mill Street to College Street. The city will then transfer the same amount of funds in bonds back to the Northwest Old Town project.

The Valley Ridge extension was approved back in 2003 as part of a city bond package for about $10 million. The county had agreed to reimburse the city for half the cost in October 2009. The construction contract, however, was not awarded until December 2014, and by then costs had risen. The costs rose again when crew workers encountered trash and debris between Prairie Creek and College Street. By the end of the project, the extension had cost almost twice the initial cost at almost $20 million. In response, Lewisville moved money out of the Northwest Old Town project in 2017 and asked for an additional $3 million in Regional Tollway Revenue funding from the Council of Governments.

The COG had already given $4.7 million in RTR funds to the city in 2014, which allowed Lewisville to move bond money meant for Valley Ridge over to projects on smaller streets. RTR funding can only be used on streets four lanes wide or more, meaning the money they requested could only go to Valley Ridge. The requested $3 million in RTR would allow the city to move money back into the Northwest Old Town project. The COG, however, only offered $1.3 million, which the city accepted.

The consent agenda included a series of other economic development agreements, including waiving fees for two residential projects on Edna and College streets and a grant equal to 50 percent of the property taxes on improvements made to a vacant lot east of the Coyote Drive-In on Midway.

Also on the agenda was a public hearing for a nearly 50,000 square-foot extension of National Indoor RV and a hearing for a Community Development Block Grant in regards to an Annual Action Plan. Each year, the city must submit an Annual Action Plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, proposing to spend block grant money on projects identified in the city’s 2017 Five-Year Consolidated Plan for Housing and Community Development. This year, the city will receive upwards to $700,000, which is nearly $100,000 more than last year. The money will be spent across 23 different projects, according to background material.

At a 6:30 workshop session prior to the meeting proper, council heard three presentations, which included a discussion about the proposed Atmos 12-inch high pressure gas main installation, plans for the new traffic signal network and the possible donation of a property along Timber Creek, south of Lakeway Drive and north of Sam Rayburn Tollway.

Atmos Energy has proposed to install a new 12-inch steel distribution main starting on FM 407 and extending south on Summit Avenue to College Street, west on College Street to Garden Ridge Boulevard and south on Garden Ridge to the Lewisville city limits. The line will continue into Flower Mound as well. The purpose for this is to increase capacity to meet the demand of the city. Construction is set to begin in 2019 and should last six months.

Council also heard a presentation on a potential upgrade to their traffic network, which would impact approximately 105 intersections and currently features technology that is 15 years old, according to the presentation. The new system would look to manage traffic better and monitor intersections so faster action can be taken when something happens, such as a crash or congestion. The new system will look to increase bandwidth of the system, so even as technology ages, the system itself can still be used.

Lastly, council heard a presentation on the future of Timber Creek, a swath of land near I-35 and Highway 121. The presentation outlined future plans for the area, as well as the potential for the land to be donated to the city. This would be the last two steps in the existing stormwater utility plan, which laid out the areas stormwater design over the course of 10-15 years, according to the presentation.

This meeting also marked the first in which council used the iLegislate voting system, a system which catalogs motions and votes in a more streamlined manner. Council met up in the chambers earlier in the afternoon to go through a quick training session for it. The new system shows on the screen the votes each council member has taken, rather than the typical “aye” and “nay” that has been the norm.

Lewisville City Council meets at 7 p.m. on the first and third Monday of each month at City Hall, 151 W. Church St. in Lewisville. Typically, a workshop is held prior to the meeting where discussion surrounding certain items takes place. The next meeting will be Aug. 20.