Wolfforth Council, city manager seeking advice on tax credit properties

Wolfforth City Council members wrangled again over two different developers hoping to build tax credit properties in the city.

“Each project sounds good,” City Manager Darrell Newsom told the council members. But he said he had talked to Mayor Charles Addington last week, who asked him to contact an unbiased source to advise the city.

“I’m working on that right now,” Newsom said.

Council members tabled the request for an $80,000 loan from Monarch Meadows in favor of getting the advise, but some of them talked about their concerns before the vote.

Councilwoman Julie Merrill said when the Monarch Meadows representative, Roundstone Development developer Bob Colvard, came to the meeting on July 2, he was asked for follow-up letters from other communities where his organization built.

Councilman Bruce MacNair said he also asked for photos of the buildings after they had been lived in for a while to see how well they were maintained.

Newsom said the letters are at city hall, but the long-term photos may not be available since the only buildings in Texas were just recently built.

Merrill said she is “irritated” about the fact that there are other sources of funding available to Roundstone Development, and she is “not thrilled” about the city being asked for money.

Newsom told her that the loan must come from some kind of local government entity.

MacNair expressed concern that he doesn’t know if one project would be better for the tax base of Wolfforth than the other. He also said he would like to know what else is planned for those areas.

Newsom said both properties are owned by speculative land owners, but either location would be “a catalyst for development” in Wolfforth.

Councilman Randy Gross said he approves of the move to ask advice from a third party.

“I’m still really concerned” about the city having to loan the money, Gross said, although he said the city is risking not getting any new development if they pass at providing a loan.

Councilman Vardy also said he would like to get the opinion of the third party.

“I’m very concerned about having to make the loan for $80,000,” Vardy said. The city hasn’t done seal-coat paving in two or three years, he said, and that money could be better used for that.

Vardy said he agrees that Roundstone probably could have gotten a loan elsewhere if it had really worked on it.

“We, as a city, have been really fair to both projects,” Vardy said.

Former Mayor L.C. Childers stood up to offer his opinion as well, noting that it’s not the city’s role to loan money. He said the city attorney advised the city not to loan money when Roundstone first asked in January.

Newsom said the city had been advised that an $80,000 loan wouldn’t affect the city’s future borrowing power. But he said the city would probably have to borrow the money to turn around and lend it out, and he said it would be difficult for the city to do so.

Another developer vying for the same tax credit money administered by the state, Paul Holden of Wilhoit Properties, said Roundstone had other loan sources it could have tapped earlier, and could have even applied to the state of Texas for the loan.

A resident who said his grandfather donated the land for Patterson Park, near the Monarch Meadows proposed development, said it would be located right by his property.

“We’ve lived there 17 years, and 13 of it without a sewer line,” Kenneth Patterson said, adding that the city never had money for it. “If you put low income housing by the park, it’ll never be better than the day it opens.”

Patterson said he cannot see how low income housing right there would help the area.

Cliff Watt, a realtor with Westar Commercial Realty, said he is working to sell that land to Roundstone for the Monarch Meadows development. He said tax credit properties have been built in the Bacon Heights area of Lubbock and that area is stil growing.

But Holden countered Watt, stating that Patterson Park, the park with a lake along U.S. 62/82 in Wolfforth, is an amenity that exists in few towns on a major thoroughfare.

“You’ve got something here that could be sensational,” he said, adding that Wolfforth should carefully consider what is built in that area. “This is the front door of Wolfforth, Texas, right here.”

Watt laughed as he stood to rebut Holden’s comments, saying, “Let’s just go into an arm wrestling match.”

He went on to say that it is hard to put in first class housing beside the baseball fields in Patterson Park, but the tax credit property wants to locate there.

“Both projects are going to be good for the city,” he said.

Mayor Addington thanked everyone for their comments, but told Holden and Watt that they had proven his point.

“Gentlemen, that’s exactly why I went to Darrell (Newsom) to ask for a third-party opinion,” Addington said.

The council tabled the request in order to get more information.

Council members did vote to authorize the mayor to sign an oil and gas lease with The Caffey Group for a three-year lease on subsurface rights to several city properties, including city hall, Patterson Park and the sewer pond, among others.

If The Caffey Group drills, it will use horizontal drilling techniques and will not locate drilling rigs on city property, Newsom said. The city will be paid $500 per acre leased, and if The Caffey Group successfully obtains the resources, the city will get royalties of 25 percent.

Council members also voted to waive a fee for the Wolfforth Area Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture to have a barbecue cook-off in the Patterson Park pavilion.

A motion to allow all city workers to take a vehicle home when they are on-call died for lack of a second. City workers who live in city limits are currently allowed to take a vehicle home, but those outside city limits are not allowed to take a vehicle home, even if on-call.

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