Council reaches compromise on RV park issue

Kevin Holamon | Brownwood Bulletin
Mayor Stephen Haynes, left, reads a proclamation declaring March as American Red Cross Month. Local Red Cross representatives, beginning second from left, Joshua McDowell, Gene Deason, and John Gooch, were present for the reading.

The Brownwood City Council met Monday morning in a regular scheduled session. The agenda was relatively short, however, one item commanded the bulk of the time. 

Only Councilman Eddie Watson was not present for the meeting.

Mayor Stephen Haynes began the meeting by reading a proclamation declaring March as American Red Cross Month. The proclamation recognizes hero volunteers and their tireless efforts in the community.

After a short discussion on the claims and accounts report by Director of Finance Walter Middleton, the Council moved to the first action item, an ordinance regulating Vacation Travel Trailer/RV Parks.

The issue was presented on second and third/final readings and had arisen from the planned RV park at the entrance to Riverside Park. 

The Mayor first recognized Brown County resident Bob Beadel and the developer of the RV park, Ross Setzler, who had each requested time to address the Council on the matter.

Beadel addressed the issue from the perspective of a previous owner of an RV park, and one who frequently visits parks while on trips, specifically speaking to the issue of long-term occupancy and its effects on tourism. 

Referring to an item in the newspaper, Beadel said, "There was a comment in the paper that, if they drive by and the RV park is full, they just keep on going. I'll guarantee you that is true."

Beadel recommended the council consider carefully the issues surrounding long-term occupancy in the parks. His suggestion was to limit the number of long-term spaces permitted.

The most voiced concern over long-term occupancy has been the unattractive appearance of other RV parks, where it is allowed.

Setzler assured the council he had no intention of allowing his park to become an "eyesore." His concern was how restricting the term of occupancy would affect the park's income, eliminating or limiting a steady revenue stream.

"I would like to still have longer than 180 days, but I know what the intent is," Setzler said, "The intent is to try to help keep our park clean."

"I have a set of restrictions that I will put in place to keep the park nice and neat," he added.

Two motions were offered on revising the wording of the ordinance, in attempt to meet a compromise on the occupancy terms. Both failed for the lack of a second. A third motion received a vote, but failed to attain the required number of votes. 

After a brief recess, followed by additional lengthy discussion, a motion was made to allow for half of an RV park to be designated for stays of up to 180 days and half up to 90 days. Both would require a break of 15 days before returning to the park. The motion received a second and passed unanimously. 

The remainder of the agenda was completed with little discussion. 

The Council approved changes to the City's Personnel Rules and Regulations, which included adding e-cigarettes to the section prohibiting smoking and tobacco use, and amending the residency requirements for employees, as well as changes to the weapons policy and longevity pay.

The changes adopted a "no tolerance" policy with regards to positive drug tests, on and off the job, and alcohol while on the job. In the past, employees were warned for a first offense and referred to counseling or rehabilitation through the Employee Assistance Program.

Because the two council positions up for election did not attract challengers, the Council voted to cancel the May 10 election.

The Council also approved an agreement with SVB Holdings, LLC, the owners of the Brownwood Country Club, regarding the transference of sewage infrastructure to the City, the construction of which was funded by SVB Holdings, LLC.

The last action item was reestablishing the position of Assistant City Manager, which had not been filled since the appointment of Bobby Rountree to the chief administrator's post. Rountree asked that the position be filled and recommended Emily Crawford, the Executive Director of the Brownwood Economic Development Corporation. The Council approved and Crawford will continue to serve in her current post, assuming her additionally responsibilities on Wednesday.