Meridian City Council met Monday, May 12, and heard several citizens speak in open forum. The council also took action on a public hearing on Zoning on behalf of a six-year-old Bosque County business, Black Oak Plumbing. The council also heard public comments on a dangerous dog situation, and literary landmark honoring John A. Lomax approved by the state.
“We would like to see implementation and follow through of a guideline to prevent [further incidents]. We see loose and stray dogs all the time in our neighborhood. We don’t want to see [youth] get hurt or God forbid, killed, by one of these dogs.” -Jennifer Lumpkins, referring to a dog attack on her son on the Fourth of July in 2020. “We could have prevented this.”
Lee Martinez and Jennifer Lumpkins told city council that a dog attack had occurred Sunday, and noted previous instances that they were aware of. After a dog attack, animals are supposed to be quarantined for 10 days under the current state law. A boy was attacked by a dog in the vicinity of the Bosque County Courthouse.
“[Filing] an affidavit will kick the court into gear,” said Judge Jeff Hightower, noting that an affidavit can be filed with the municipal court.
Meridian GrassRoots will also host a candidate forum this April. The Meridian Civic Center is booked April 27 for a public forum for candidates to discuss issues.
Zoning Public Hearing
Tiffany Gentry spoke on behalf of the Zoning Commission, noting the approval of the possible rezone from Single Family Residential to Commercial and Multi-Family Residential. The applicant is Black Oak Plumbing, and seeks to build a commercial building on the corner lot. The property is Meridian OT, A454, A650, A440, A450, Block 81, Lot 17 (PT) on F Street, in Meridian, Texas, searchable on the Bosque CAD website. The building will be kept at one level. No one objected to the changes. The location is across from the Recycling Plant in Meridian.
We’ve been in business almost six years now. We feel it’s time to grow into a community. We’ve been searching Bosque County for a community. We’re excited to be a part of Meridian. It’s where we originally wanted to come and build our business. I think we’re finally achieving that goal.” – Daniel Baldivia.
The Zoning Board approved, and recommended the zoning change for the commercial and multi-family requests.
“We welcome you to Meridian.” -Mayor Johnnie Hauerland.
Literary Landmark Approval
Meridian Public Library Director Marianne Woerner announced literary landmark approval for the John A. Lomax Amphitheater. The request only awaits national approval, though the designation was approved at the state level. There were 11 applications total, with only five approved, with one being Meridian’s.
“We have heard this presentation, and we were all in favor from the Parks & Rec Board.” – Parks & Rec President Don Hatley.
Police Chief Will Stevens noted that a potential landowner had approached him about a firearm range. City ordinance states that residents can’t discharge a rifle or pistol unless they have 50 acres of property or more. If you have a shotgun, citizens aren’t allowed to discharge the weapon on 10 acres or less. The issue was tabled until future discussion with the landowner could be completed.
Social Media Manager
Cynthia Davis recommended the role of a social media manager for the City of Meridian, to be a part-time position at 10 hours if approved. The council heard a presentation, but tabled the matter for further review. City Administrator Marie Garland suggested adding the role to an existing part-time employee’s responsibilities. Several council members expressed the desire for further research and discussion before revisiting the item.
Dangerous Dog Ordinance
The council moved to discussion of the Code of Ordinances referring to the keeping of animals that have bitten persons and animals of vicious or dangerous propensity. Stevens stated that he looked at ordinances in Clifton, and those that attended discussed the issue.
“If a dog is bitten, we confine it for 10 days, and it cannot be released without authorization from a professional,” – Chief Will Stevens, referring to the state law with dog attacks.
Face to face training for animal control is required to handle animals in this situation, with classes put on hold due to COVID-19. The state has not opened up animal control classes, with a possibility of in-person classes beginning in June. Brandy Hoffman was the Animal Control Officer, acting as the intermittent agent now. The ordinance was changed to accommodate the lack of kennels at the City of Meridian, with a hearing required in five days as opposed to 10.
We do have a state law. The chief is right, it is somewhat vague. The ordinance is called a propensity for the dangerous dog. A dog growling through the fence is not enough. A court has to decide that that dog could be dangerous,” said Hightower.
The council moved to set up a public hearing on the issue. The council tabled the issue until further discussion could be completed, and the ordinance could be refined.
A curfew ordinance was previously passed, requiring anyone under 17 be at home by 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on the weekends. Probable cause to investigate by local police or authorities would be granted for those in violation of the ordinance. The ordinance ends the next morning at 6:01 a.m. The council approved the ordinance as is.
“It just gives them an opportunity to find out why they’re out and about.” – Stevens.
Parks and Recreation Ordinance Amendments
The council entertained discussion on amendments to the Code of Ordinances regarding Parks events concerning the ability to sell items for profit and to have animals in the parks during special events. Permits would be required to sell in the area, with further information available at the City of Meridian. The council would now allow animals with an issued permit, for example, petting zoos.
Dumpsters in Residential Areas and Codification of City Ordinances Online
The council addressed dumpsters on residential property, currently allowed at $88 per small dumpster. Larger dumpsters cost $120. No action was taken. Ordinances would be converted to an online format, to appear on the city website for the public to view and refer to. The issue will be revisited at a future meeting.
Municipal Court, Parks and Recreation Donations
In 2020, a total 655 new violations were reported in municipal. Most of those were traffic-related violations. A total of four ordinance tickets were written in 2020. Three were dogs at large, and one was a curfew citation. In 2021, so far, the court has processed 124 new violations, according to Hightower. For the month of March, the court collections were $17,810.17, with $11,770.16 collected by the municipality and rest toward the state. The City of Meridian also collected some items from an old storage unit, in which funds totalling $100 were donated to Parks & Recreation after sale at the Bosque Countywide Garage Sale. The Mayor requested community support and funding for the Meridian Fire Department. Those interested should contact the department, and contribute if able.
Following an executive session, the council decided to extend the Code Enforcement Officer’s contract until May 31st, and would revisit the contract’s extension then.