PA Council oks service plans to industries; talk of annexation

Published 8:09 pm Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Port Arthur City Council took a step in possibly annexing some industries in the Extra Territorial Jurisdiction at their regular meeting on Tuesday night.

The council passed a resolution directing the planning department to prepare service plans for Industrial District Areas and for points of delivery of electricity by Entergy to industrial customers in the city’s ETJ.

A motion was passed on Sept. 29 to provide for the extension of full municipal service to the area to be annexed owned by the following entities:

  • BASF Total Petrochemicals, LLC; BASF Corporation; Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, LP; Chevron USA, Inc.; Colonial Pipeline Company; Exxonmobil Oil Corporation; Flint Hills Resources Port Arthur, LLC; Motiva Enterprises, LLC; Oxbow; Praxair (Motiva location); Praxair Refining Group, Inc.; Premcor Refining Group, Inc.; Sunoco Pipeline, LP; TOTAL Petrochemicals USA, Inc. and Veolia.

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The listed companies have “in lieu of tax agreements” that expire at the end of the year 2016. In case negotiations are not successful, the city will begin preparing an annexation timetable for said companies’ properties. The annexation timetable will adhere to the rules in the “Texas Local Government Code” and there shall be a schedule for publication, notice and public hearings.

Also approved was a resolution approving the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation’s down payment assistance program policies and procedures.

The proposition was approved by voters in the May general election to allocate $300,000 a year of its sales and use tax for affordable housing in a target area of the city.

PAEDC has contracted the services of a consultant to mange the down payment assistance program and furnish certain homeownership program services.

Also related is an ordinance passed amending the code of ordinances to reduce permit fees and waive building permit fees related to the PAEDC’s affordable housing program. This is for new construction of 10 single-family residential structures from Oct. 1, 2016 and ending on Sept. 30, 2019, to be built by a Community Housing Development Organization acting as the project manager.

The project area will be bounded by Atlanta Street on the west, Eighth Street on the north, Nashville Street on the east and Fifth Street on the south.

The council passed a resolution to file an application with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a Brownfield area-side planning grant for $300,000.

Brownfields are properties that may have hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants present, according to the EPA website.  EPA’s Brownfields Program provides grants and technical assistance to communities, states, tribes and others to assess, safely clean up and sustainably reuse these contaminated properties.

Port Arthur’s Brownfield area-wide grant will focus on the Hotel Sabine and the same target area as the Downtown Revitalization Plan: The study area is defined as

Houston Avenue to the west, Seventh Street to the north, Lake Charles Avenue to the east, and the Gulf International Waterway as the southern boundary, read a city interoffice memorandum.

The city will accepted the 2016 Port Security Grant Award. This grant is 75 percent federally funded with a match of $150,000 for police and fire department equipment.

Maj. John Owens of the Port Arthur Police Department said the grant will enhance the emergency communications network by updating the existing computer consoles.

The PAPD and the PAFD are part of a regional radio system in which this new equipment will connect with.

The council approved $246,333 for the 2016-2017 Fiscal Year between the city and Lamar State College – Port Arthur and The Port Arthur Historical Society for funding The Museum of the Gulf Coast.

Tiffany Hamilton, District 2 councilwoman, asked if there was anyone present at the meeting from the historical society. None were present.

“Please tell them how important it is for the marketing to be involved in this when they use the taxpayers’ dollars,” she said. “Even to the point of someone from this board (city council) appointed to the board (The Port Arthur Historical Society).”

Mayor Derrick Freeman agreed and said there is room for more involvement from the city council.

City Attorney Val Tizeno said LSCPA is not longer formally tied to the museum and they shouldn’t be listed in the contract.

City Manager Brian McDougal said the city’s Hotel Occupancy Tax money has funded the museum “a little bit more” each year. He added that he received no further information on the discussions the society had on marketing.

“The museum is a very large tourism draw for us. We just want to watch over our tax dollars,” McDougal said.

Freeman said council members can donate their time to the historical society if they so wish.

Tammy Koutzur, director of the Port Arthur Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the historical society founded a marketing committee three months ago.

Hamilton asked what was the difference between the Port Arthur Historical Society, the Port Arthur Historical Commission and the Jefferson County Historical Commission.

Kotzur said the society is a self-appointed board while the Port Arthur Historical Commission is appointed by the mayor. The commission installs and maintains historical markers. The Jefferson County Historical Commission is operated by the county.

Lastly, Inell Moore was reappointed to the planning and zoning commission.

David Ball: 409-721-2427