By Emily Banks Wooten
The Livingston City Council approved “Cannon Pond & Park” as the name of the 5.9-acre tract donated to the city by Cannon Pritchard during its regular meeting May 10. The tract is located beside and behind Whataburger. A dedication ceremony is planned for 9 a.m. on May 20.
City Manager Bill S. Wiggins apprised Council of a proposed cost of living adjustment for the employee salary schedule, to be effective Oct. 1 at the start of the new fiscal year. “The cost of living is at 8½% so we have to do something,” Wiggins said, adding that the exact percentage adjustment is yet to be determined.
A public hearing on an appeal by Coast 2 Coast Signs regarding the denial of a sign permit for an off-premise pylon sign at 1620 W. Church St. to advertise for Panda Express and Starbucks was held. Although no one from Coast 2 Coast Signs was there, there was a representative from Starbucks.
The public hearing was initially on the city’s April 12 agenda, although it wasn’t held as no one from Coast 2 Coast Signs attended. At that time, Wiggins explained that the city’s ordinance allows for on-premise signage but prohibits putting signage elsewhere, so it was automatically denied. According to Wiggins, what the company’s wanting to do is put up a large sign on the Hwy. 59 feeder road near the side entrance to the Walmart parking lot. “They got permission from Walmart to put it there. It’s 65 feet in the air. Any exceptions (to the ordinance) we do on a case-by-case basis. That’s what we’re doing here.” During that same meeting, City Attorney James W. Wright apprised Council that the subject of on- and off-premise signs is presently before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Although Council was slated to consider possible action on the appeal following the May 10 hearing, it was deferred once again. “With the growth we’re experiencing, we’re going to have to revisit our ordinance. It just doesn’t apply as it did when initially adopted,” Wiggins said.
During his monthly city manager’s report, Wiggins updated Council on various projects and events. Livingston Trade Days is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday and the Livingston Farmers & Artisan Market is slated for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 21 at Anniversary Park.
Regarding current development projects, city officials are reviewing plans for Highway 190 Apartments, a new 63-unit apartment complex to be located at 909 E. Church St. Work is ongoing on the new Livingston ISD concession stand near the high school at 400 FM 350 South. Work is ongoing at the Livingston Pioneer Crossing Apartments at 1101 Dogwood. A permit is ready to be issued for On The Run Truckstop to be located at 911 E. Church St.
Additionally, a permit has been issued for the courthouse restoration project at 101 W. Church St. Work is ongoing at the new Taco Bueno located at 2001 U.S. Hwy. 190 West just east of First National Bank Westside. A permit has been issued and dirt work has begun for a Wendy’s which will be located at 1819 U.S. Hwy. 190 West just east of Chick-fil-A. A permit has also been issued for a new Pizza Hut which will be located at 1205 W. Church St. at Jackson Square. It is unknown at this time if the existing Pizza Hut will remain or close.
In other items to mention, Wiggins apprised Council that the Polk Central Appraisal District included the City of Livingston on this year’s tax statements. He said he wanted to bring it to their attention in the event they are asked about it. He emphasized that the City of Livingston does not have an ad valorem tax and has not had one since 1988.
Wiggins also reported that the city is conducting an online auction of surplus vehicles and equipment with Auctioneer Express. The auction has been advertised locally in the Polk County Enterprise and published on the city’s website and bulletin board. The auction will end on May 18.
Other business included approval of the minutes of the April 12 meeting and the accounts over $500.