Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

February 25, 2014

Complaints prompt talks about regulations

By Bob Belcher
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Partly due to complaints, and partly due to the wording of some current city regulations, the Corsicana City Council is considering changes to some existing rules governing a variety of topics.

Council members held a work session Monday to continue discussions on several code enforcement areas — among them satellite dishes, bamboo growth, front yard fencing, windows in the downtown district, and the city’s sign ordinance.

City Manager Connie Standridge and Planning and Zoning Director Audrey Sloan briefed council members on suggested changes to some of the city’s rules, asking council members to look in their individual precincts and around the city for examples of concern areas, or just for ways to improve the look and appearance of the city.

Sloan said the visible placement of satellite dishes on homes and apartments in the city has spurred a number of complaints about the appearance of the devices. She explained that the wording of the current city regulations about the TV receivers doesn’t give the city any way to enforce where they can be placed.

The current regulation states that the dishes ‘may’ be installed on the roof at the rear of a home, Sloan explained — not that they ‘must’ be placed on the rear. The council was asked to consider wording that says such receivers “must” or “shall” be placed on the rear of a roof, unless a variance is granted because of signal reception difficulties.

Sloan suggested council could consider more specific wording on limits on placement and the number of dishes allowed on a structure.

Council members also discussed whether to “grandfather” any existing satellite dishes placed, or consider a one-year period for residents to either move the receivers — at their own cost — or ask for a variance to keep the dish in place and save the expense of moving it.

Councilman Tom Wilson said he was not comfortable with making any change that would cost residents money to comply with, such as mandating an existing dish be moved.

Complaints were also behind a discussion on considering ways to regulate the growth of bamboo on properties within the city.

Currently, bamboo is being regulated as a “grass,” Standridge explained, but existing rules governing overgrown lawns and lots limit height of growth to 8 inches. Bamboo grown for ornamental purposes — and allowed to grow freely — typically is much higher.

While acknowledging some of the ornamental bamboo being used as privacy screening landscaping isn’t objectionable, allowing growth to completely cover a lot or encroach on another person’s property is problematic. Changing how it is regulated would allow for clearer rules for the city to enforce, Standridge said.

Standridge also asked council members to help city staff clarify or consider new regulations regarding windows in downtown areas, signs and banners, and front yard fencing regulations.

Council members made no changes to any existing ordinances during Monday’s workshop. Mayor Chuck McClanahan asked that council members give some thought and study to any changes they felt might help improve the appearance of the city.

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Bob Belcher may be reached by email at bbelcher@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com