Earlier this year the City of Aledo embarked on a plan to streamline city ordinances and processes online to relieve the number of inquiries received by the city and to keep city staff from having to make so many administrative decisions related to permits, waivers, and the like. The City contracted Place Strategies to aid in this endeavor.
During the city council meeting on Thursday, Sept. 7, Ivan Gonzalez and Brad Lonberger stood before the council to provide an update on where the project stands at this point.
Gonzalez and Lonberger have worked thus far on codifying all the various ordinances actively on the books for the City of Aledo. Gonzalez stated during the meeting the goal is to simplify language and make the terminology consistent, so that when entrepreneurs, business owners, or developers search the website, they are easily able to understand exactly what steps and documents they need in order to comply with the city codes for doing business in Aledo.
“I want the City of Aledo to be open for business, but I also want developers to be held to a high standard that yields quality development that reflects the desires of our community,” Mayor Nick Stanley said in an official statement issued by his office. “Those expectations need to be clearly communicated and understood by developers so they can be successful.
“Growth is inevitable and there is nothing we can do to stop it. But one thing we do have control over are the policies that set the guidelines and the standards for how we will develop. We have one chance to get this right. Otherwise, this town, our residents, and our school district could be negatively impacted, and we simply cannot and will not allow that to happen."
Creating a user-friendly online interface will free up city employees to focus more on the tasks related to their specific roles even as the city continues to grow. One of the ways Place Strategies plans to do this is by including charts and diagrams to walk people step-by-step through processes, such as obtaining waivers or licenses, necessary for building projects within city limits.
Gonzalez advised the council his team is just a few weeks away from being ready to publish the first draft of the site for all the department heads of the city to review for accuracy. At that time, he plans to meet with department heads to ensure information is correct, as well as inquire about any critiques they may have to offer before seeking approval to publish the site for use.
Storm shetler requirement
During the Aug. 24 meeting, Aledo ISD requested an amendment be made to the 2015 International Building Code. Specifically, due to the renovations being made to the high school campus as part of the 2023 bond package, the district would require a storm shelter to be constructed in the indoor practice facility building in order to be in compliance.
However, since the renovations were not adding additional headcount to the high school, the city worked with the district to reach a compromise that will still meet safety requirements for all students and faculty at the high school, while also saving the district a significant amount of money by not having to construct a separate storm shelter.
The amended portion of the 2015 IBC now states additions to existing buildings with a maximum occupancy of no more than 250 people are permitted to use a hardened space alternative for a shelter. The hardened space is defined as 12-inch-thick concrete masonry walls, which must be fully grouted. The structure must contain a concrete lid roof, or metal roof deck with lightweight composite topping. It must be centrally located in the building, containing minimal windows or doors. And it must accommodate the additional occupancy load of 250 people.
After Aledo ISD requested the amendment during the previous city council meeting in August, the council was not prepared to make a ruling on the amendment at that time. Opting instead to table the discussion to a later date, the two entities worked together to reach a proposal that accomplished the goal of keeping students and faculty safe in the event of a significant weather event, while also helping the district adhere to its financial obligations.
“What we did in the interim is we just made sure that we had clear communication about the process of getting to where we are right now, and then of course what the plans would be for student safety,” Aledo ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Bohn said after the meeting. “That’s helped us come to a situation that helps us both feel good about moving forward - giving kids the spaces they need, but then also making sure they’re going to be safe in those spaces.”
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