Vidor seeking public input as city considers zoning plan

This Article Courtesey:  The Examiner
By: Sharon Brooks
Kunst shows map of reinves copy.jpgCity Manager Mike Kunst and Vidor’s Planning and Zoning Commission are working on a plan to implement zoning in the city and, in preparation, are asking for public input on the matter and for information about businesses operating in residential neighborhoods around the city.

With the Pride and Progress initiative and other programs recently implemented to promote business and residential development in the city, Vidor is changing, said Kunst, and so are its needs.
“Back in the day, we were a sawmill town,” Kunst recalled of the municipality’s origins. “People would come in, they’d harvest the trees, they’d move on. They weren’t worried about community development. Then the community stayed. But they didn’t have any community development.”

That’s where Kunst and Vidor’s newly appointed Planning and Zoning Commission come into the picture. Kunst said they hope to recommend a plan for zoning and have a zoning map to the Vidor City Council by the beginning of 2018 and have the ordinance adopted by council prior to the May elections, toward the end of April 2018.

 City zoning divides a city into areas subject to special use restrictions, like commercial versus residential. With few exceptions, business development would be restricted to areas zoned for commercial use, and other areas of the city would be zoned strictly for residences.

According to Kunst, Vidor is one of few cities lacking zoning.

 “Houston has no formal zoning,” said Kunst. “Then, the next largest city in the United States that doesn’t have zoning is Pasadena – not just in Texas. All those various-sized cities in between (Houston and Pasadena sizes), they all have zoning.”

While Houston, Pasadena and Vidor all lack formal zoning, the cities have all passed ordinances to guide development, said Kunst.

 “They have many restrictions on where one can build, develop, those kind of things,” he explained. “So does the city of Vidor have zoning? No. Do we have restrictions where some things can be placed? We do.”

A notable example is the city restrictions on placement of HUD Code manufactured homes. The U.S. Housing and Urban Development website describes, “The HUD Code, unlike conventional building codes, requires manufactured homes to be constructed on a permanent chassis.” Approximately one year ago, the city passed an ordinance restricting the construction and placement of HUD Code mobile homes to mobile home parks and to certain areas of the city, including Walden Road and Alamo Street, all of which were already heavily populated by mobile homes.

Kunst said, as it currently stands, a business could pop up in a residential neighborhood at any time.

“A seafood restaurant could open up right next door to homes in Vidor,” Kunst stated. “When I was a kid, my friend’s dad had a bait shop he ran out of his garage right in the middle of a residential neighborhood.” 

According to Kunst, if the city implements commercial and residential zoning, businesses operating in residential neighborhoods would be classified “nonconforming use properties.” Those businesses, he said, could be problematic for neighbors living around them.

“It could decrease property values of other property owners in the neighborhood,” Kunst warned.

 “All of this is going forward,” he described. “Zoning is not retroactive. It’s forward. It’s to guide future development while we’re protecting people’s property values.”

Kunst said the approval of a new zoning ordinance would not immediately eliminate all nonconforming use properties but would create conditions that would cause them to eventually “phase out.

 “One thing we can try to do is eliminate them,” explained Kunst. “We can adopt an ordinance that there will be fewer… If we want, we can say, regardless of what you’re doing, you have X number of years to come into compliance. The question is, what is that X number of years? And, we have to allow the property owner to get reasonable value out of that. What is considered reasonable value?

“We’ll have to work out the details. We’re almost there.”

Kunst said he and the planning and zoning commission are reviewing the city’s comprehensive plan and have the zoning plan about 80 percent ready, including a draft of a zoning map created by Rick Masters.

“We have an 80 percent comprehensive plan, we have an 80 percent city ordinance and we have an 80 percent zoning map,” Kunst asserted. “So we’re almost there.

 “Over the last year or two when I did the reinvestment zone map, I literally got the map out and started drawing. I thought, we can do this.”

Kunst said there would be public hearings before a zoning ordinance could be adopted. However, he is hoping for input from the public in advance of that.

 “We want to hear from the citizens what they want,” he expressed. “We want them to understand what we’re trying to do. We want to know what they want and where they see a business in somebody’s neighborhood. We’re asking everybody in Vidor to let us know where these places are so we can talk about them.

“We want people to give us their two cents. If you see us out and about, the mayor, the city council or the staff, tell us what you think. Or call us. Or come by City Hall. It’s easy to communicate nowadays.”


Phones Offline at City Hall

The phones at City Hall may be offline for inbound calls on Monday, July 03, 2017 between 7:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.  This includes the Sanitation department, Municipal Court, and Code Enforcement.  We apologize for any inconvenience.  

Reserve Citizen Airman helms Texas county

This article courtesy:
air_res_round.pngAir Reserve Personnel Center
By Master Sgt. Timm Huffman


Brint_Carlton.jpgOrange County, in Southeast Texas on the border with Louisiana and just 20 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, is home to more than 80,000 Texans and led by Air Force Reserve Major S. Brint Carlton.

Carlton was elected to the county’s top position in 2014 and has used the experience and leadership he gained in the Air Force to steer policy and guide his decisions.

With over 10 years of Air Force service, including time on active duty and in the traditional and individual reserve programs, Carlton has had ample time and opportunity to gain the leadership skills he uses every day in Orange County.

“I credit my leadership skills, understanding of budgets and my focus on the big picture to what I learned in the Air Force,” he said, speaking with a barely detectable southern drawl.

The Orange County native began his Air Force career in 2005 after finishing a master’s degree in health administration at the University of Florida. He spent just shy of four years on active duty as a Medical Service Corps officer. Following a deployment to the Middle East, he transferred into the traditional reserve at the 433rd Airlift Wing at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, to pursue more education. He knew that his MHA would pair well with a law degree and had seen his father’s success practicing family law, so Carlton used the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits he earned on active duty to earn both a juris doctor program and master’s degree in business administration at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. It took him 2 1/2 years.

After graduating in December 2011, he returned to Orange County to practice family law with his father. He also left the 433rd for a joint assignment at the 953rd Reserve Support Squadron at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, in 2013. He soon realized, however, that practicing family law was not for him. He applied for, and was hired, into the district attorney’s office as a juvenile prosecutor. This new position was much more to his liking. He felt the work was having a positive impact, giving children who found themselves in trouble with the law a chance at a new start while also getting justice for victims. He said it wasn’t long before some fellow county employees suggested he might do more for Orange County, asking him if he had ever thought of running for county judge.

While the word judge often invokes images of a robed figure presiding over a courtroom, Carlton said a county judge in Texas is more akin to a governor or the CEO of a company, albeit one with a judicial aspect. In Texas, some of the roles a county judge fills are as budget officer, the head of emergency management, and presiding official of the commissioner’s court. They also preside over local judicial matters such as misdemeanor, probate and civil cases.

After talking with his family and researching the role in depth, Carlton began his bid for county judge in 2014. The four-way election named no victor; Carlton earned 26 percent of the vote. The election came down to a run-off between the Airman and former county commissioner John Dubose. Carlton won 53 percent of the vote in the run-off and entered office Jan. 1, 2015.

At 32, he was one of the youngest county judges in Texas. He was also the county’s first new judge in 20 years. The people of Orange County were ready for something different, he said.

County commissioner Barry Burton, another Orange County native who was elected at the same, said the Air Force reservist brought a new style of leadership to the county. Brint is a forward thinker, he said. He’s looking five, 10, 15 years into the future and he’s finding ways to make county programs sustainable.

“In the past, the budget cycle was a year-to-year kind of thing. We don’t do it that way anymore,” said Burton.

Continue reading at: http://www.arpc.afrc.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1216356/reserve-citizen-airman-helms-texas-county/


Independence Day 2017

Happy 4th of July Poster for Facebook and WhatsappOn Tuesday, July 4th, City of Vidor offices will be closed in observance of Independence Day. The Sanitation Department will run its normal Tuesday route.  Anyone desiring to make a payment to either the Sanitation Department or Municipal Court may use the appropriate drop box located in the rear parking lot of the City Hall Municipal Building.

Please join the City of Vidor and Americans everywhere in celebration of our Freedom!!!

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