TRINITY — After a wave of large-scale housing developments arrived in Trinity over the last couple of years, it will likely be at least another year before the next comes around.
A moratorium for 12 months on any new major housing subdivisions or developments gained approval at the regular January meeting of City Council. The measure does not include single-family homes or commercial business, but council intends to pause its review and approval of residential development and zoning applications while the city’s land-use plan is under review and revision.
Council also denied a rezoning request for one such subdivision during the meeting and revised its policy of holding pre-agenda meetings the same day as council meetings. After the election of one new council member and the city brought back a returning council member in November, its newly-seated local government faces questions of how to proceed with new philosophies.
Councilman Ed Lohr called into question the previous council’s practices and made the motion to revise the pre-agenda policy, signaling a return to a previous way of handling city business. Councilman Jack Carico echoed the sentiments of wanting to return to a way of conducting items that preceded the last term.
“Too many times, there were meetings that were called, it wasn’t put in the paper, you had a meeting on a Monday night and it was shoved down the taxpayers and citizens’ throats because no one knew what happened,” Lohr said. “When you make a decision spending $300,000 on that building out back or different decisions, and you have a pre-agenda, half an hour later you vote on it, that doesn’t give the taxpayers and citizens [time] to give you ideas.
“The people are gone who caused that problem.”
Several references were made alluding to the departure of former council members who were outvoted in the most recent municipal election and the former city manager who retired at the end of last year. Both Carico and Lohr attributed the reason for the departure of their former fellow council members to an unwillingness to adhere to what they believe was the will of the general public.
They pointed to the decisions by council members to vote in favor of large development projects despite residents’ concerns about traffic the subdivisions brought with it. Lohr also brought up the appointment of leaders to unfilled council seats, including those of the late Mayor Jesse Hill and Councilman Gene Byerly, as well as the Ward 2 seat most recently held by Stephen Lawing.
“When you come in here and all of the sudden, you appoint somebody, say for Ward 2, the citizens never got one input,” Lohr said. “You didn’t bring two or three people up here when somebody died or resigned, just walk in, ‘Hey, this is my buddy. I’m going to nominate him for a council seat.’ … You didn’t have multiple choices, you couldn’t wait for elections.”
Sitting Councilman Bob Hicks expressed his objection to the implication, stating that his appointment to a seat on council was not something he intended to be a long-term arrangement initially.
“I’ve got to say something here, because this has bothered me from the whole beginning,” Hicks said. “I got appointed to fill a seat for six months and didn’t want to be on here more than six months and was stupid enough to go put my name on the ballot, and nobody else ran against me. That’s the problem. It ain’t just the council. It’s the people that live in this city, so they get the blame.”
As the newest member of Trinity government, Councilman Robbie Walker was ready to turn the page and leave behind any difficulties from a previous regime. Suggesting to his fellow council members that starting a new year with a new council and new interim city manager presented a unique opportunity, Walker urged the body to come together for more constructive dialogue.
“We’ve got a new opportunity here,” Walker said. “Let’s take advantage of it.”
Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.