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Austwell moves forward on wetlands center grant
by Tim Delaney
Aug 16, 2013 | 906 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Veterinarian Lois Cochran, left, addresses the Austwell City Council and residents in attendance about her request for a variance on the city's animal ordinance. Also pictured is City Secretary Melissa Hopper.
Tim Delaney photo Veterinarian Lois Cochran, left, addresses the Austwell City Council and residents in attendance about her request for a variance on the city's animal ordinance. Also pictured is City Secretary Melissa Hopper.
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AUSTWELL – The Austwell City Council approved an interlocal agreement with Refugio County to act as a flow-through agent for Coastal Impact Assistance Program grant funds on Monday evening, Aug. 12.

The $184,000 grant will pay for the construction of an Austwell Wetland Information Center at the city’s community center.

The action had been delayed for more than a month over some of the grant programs verbiage.

Katie Duskin, project manager from Grant Works, said one of the questions from the council was if the city would be responsible for overruns on the project.

She said the city of Austwell only would be responsible for work approved.

Does the facility have to be available every day of the week? Duskin said the U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service emailed to say times, dates and length of being open was not the thrust of the grant requirements, only being available to the public was the requirement.

In other words, the city can have visitors sign an agreement for the facility operations as a requirement to use the facility and as a waiver to cover lost or stolen items.

Then volunteers per availability would dictate when visitors could use the facility.

The council also approved a variance on its animal ordinance for veterinarian Lois Cochran, who is opening a practice in Austwell.

The ordinance states residents only can have two dogs and two cats.

Cochran wanted a variance so she can do surgeries on dogs and cats, and she would have more than two each at times.

She wanted a variance on farm animals, also, because she plans on giving medical care to small animals such as calves.

“The animals I work with might be smaller – 60 to 80 pounds. They will be in kennels,” she said.

She said she knows concerns include runoff, noise, smell and flies.

She said she is spraying for mosquitoes, which will kill the flies and other insects.

And she said she will start a compost pile for gardeners while a veterinarian in Victoria would pick up from calves and her deer, which she has a permit for.

The council approved a variance on dogs and cats but tabled the part on farm animals, saying it needed more information on how far the animals should be from a drinking water well and also dimensions of kennels and layout.

The council will address the request again at its Aug. 26 special meeting.

Also, the council again discussed the 100-year -old Baptist Church it owns and is trying to sell through sealed bids.

A $10,000 bid was submitted a month ago for the church at 701 Main St. and the property it sits on, but the council had set a minimum bid of $20,000.

Whether to lower the bid or raise the bid was discussed. But the item was tabled for the Aug. 26 meeting.

It was noted that the church sits on a corner and has two lots bringing the property’s dimensions to 100 feet wide and 150 feet deep.

The church is two blocks away from San Antonio Bay and already has a water/sewer tap.

Interested parties should call the city secretary during morning hours to find out more about the church and property at 361-286-3523.

The council decided to place a “for sale” sign on the property to help sell it.

Also, the council tabled deciding on a tax rate for the upcoming year until its Aug. 26 meeting.

After a closed session, the council could not come to a decision, appointing a new council member to its vacant position.

Two residents had tossed their names in the hat: Mustafa Curtiss and Donnie Denton.

The council agreed to leave the decision up to voters in the May election.
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