Tomball City Council tackles zoning

By Cheryl Garcia
Contributing Writer

At the City Council meeting on July 21, the members addressed multiple issues related to zoning in Tomball. One zoning issue affects Texas Star Gymnastics on Ulrich Road. This gymnastics school, which has existed on the property since 1999, is currently located in a residential zone, and therefore cannot expand its business.

When the school was founded, the zoning did not exist. The school recently added a structure at the building entrance to facilitate drop-off and pickup of students and did not request prior City approval, because they did not know it was required.

Texas Star requested a change in zoning classification from residential to commercial so it would not have to remove the covered entrance and would be allowed future expansion. Council members did not want to force a tear-down of the new structure, but were reluctant to change the zoning because it would negatively impact the homeowners in that area. They also wanted to keep the area residential in the future. The Council ultimately voted to not change the zoning to commercial, but suggested that the school work with the Community Development Office to develop a resolution.
Citizens spoke up about the pending annexation by the city of a property on Huffsmith-Kohrville Road called Minola’s Place, citing that they didn’t feel safe living next to it because it had been a home for “run-aways,” who had been seen wandering on adjacent properties in the past.

Minola’s Place of Texas, Inc., defines itself as a non-profit organization that serves disadvantaged, at-risk children ages 13-17 through two Residential Treatment Centers, one in Spring and one in Tomball. The organization present itself as a provider of counseling and medical services to the children, geared toward helping them transition back to their homes or on to independence.

Another zoning consideration, to change the category of a tract of land on Main Street west of Lawrence Avenue from Commercial and Old Town and Mixed Use
to Commercial only, passed. Two replats were also approved.

There was discussion about the adoption of impact fees for water, waste water, and drain-age for the area bounded by Baker, Quinn and State Highway 249, which was approved. The acquisition of a low-power FCC-issued FM radio station license was also approved. After being assured the radio station (which will use frequency 95.1) would be used only for city business (fire department, police department, and city events), the Council agreed to the acquisition.

The Council approved the one-year extension of the current city lease allowing the Harris County Tax Assessor to use the location at 101 South Walnut as a Harris County Tax Office.  It also approved the provision for mutual aid between Harris County and the City of Tomball during a disaster and the annual Memorandum of Understanding between the City and Tomball ISD for assistance during disasters or large incidents.

The Council appointed Robert Maxwell, GEC Deputy Project Manager, to serve on the Texas Heritage Railroad Museum Board of Directors. They awarded the contract for solid waste collection and disposal to the Waste Corporation of America, and will be selecting the level of service soon.

Mayor Gretchen Fagan announced that the budget was moving forward and the next public hearing on the budget will be August 18. She mentioned that Tomball Night on Aug. 1 will be the next large event held in the City.

Mike Baxter, Tomball Marketing Director, delivered a presentation showing that the City of Tomball had won 15 awards at the Texas Festival Events Association Awards Conference this month in Austin. 11 were first place awards and four were second place awards.  Tomball’s first-place awards were won in the following categories: Best Mascot, Best Promotion, Best Community Outreach Event, Best Event Within a Festival, Best Sponsor Solicitation Video, Best Newspaper Ad, Best Event Merchandise, Best Event Photo, Best Volunteer Program, Best Event Hat, and Best Event T-Shirt. Baxter stated there were 437 entries from around the state, and Tomball submitted 17 entries.