MIDLOTHIAN — Several members of the Midlothian Police Department were recognized during a regular session of the Midlothian City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 31. The recognitions ranged from the length of service, rank advancement and even the awarding of permanent badges.

Recently promoted the Midlothian Police Sgt. Mark Holton was recognized for 15 years of service.

“Sergeant Holton is an example to his fellow officers and community of the commitment of this department to service this city,” Midlothian Police Chief Carl Smith said.

Following Holton's recognition, Midlothian Police Officers Kyle Boyo and Cole Underwood were promoted to Sergeant and Corporal, respectively. In the department's communications division, Alessa Mize and Whitney Gilbert were promoted to communications supervisor. All four renewed their oath of commitment read by Smith.

In addition, officers Dustin Mayer and Katlyn Martin were recognized for completing their first year of training and service and were issued a permanently numbered badge.

“These are their permanent badges that are numbered to identify these officers,” said Smith to those in attendance as he congratulated the officers.

TAKING ACTION

Three action items relating to a proposed expansion of Chemtrade Solutions were passed, with Councilman Ted Miller casting opposing votes to all three.

The first consideration was a resolution authorizing the execution of an Ad Valorem Tax Abatement agreement between the city and Chemtrade.

Chemtrade proposed to the city it will spend between $2.4 and 2.7 million in expansions that would create 13 new jobs at approximately $50,000 per year in income.

“These are very good jobs for the community, “ a representative of Chemtrade said, who also noted that the abatement is a graduated reduction for seven years.

In opposing the proposal, Miller cited the lack of parking with trucks being forced to park in the dirt lot on the facility.

A representative of the Midlothian Economic Development told the council members that, when Chemtrade applies for construction permitting, the company will have to meet parking requirements

The second action for Chemtrade was a request for a $275,000 loan from Midlothian Economic Development with a seven-year payback term. The terms of the loan were one-seventh of the total loan would be forgiven provided that Chemtrade continue to comply with the abatement agreement.

The final action for Chemtrade was a resolution nominating Chemtrade to the Office of the Governor Economic Development and Tourism as an enterprise project.

ENFORCEMENT

Chief Smith requested the council to authorize the expenditure of grant funds received from the Office of the Governor to purchase a major emergency response vehicle.

“The vehicle will consist of a commercial truck with a custom built body specifically designed to respond to incidents in and around the city. Such incidents could include car crashes requiring extended investigation, crime scenes requiring prolonged processing, multi-jurisdictional events such as natural disasters, SWAT incidents or similar events that require mobile, centralized command, “ Smith said.

According to the Midlothian City Council consent agenda, the vehicle will be purchased through grant funds totaling $80,000 and the remainder of the $118,000 cost will be funded through forfeiture program funds.

The council unanimously approved the request.

FLYING THE COOP

An ordinance amendment was requested to provide a definition on how many backyard chickens a resident could keep cooped up.

According to Smith, his department handles complaints about noise created by backyard chickens fairly regularly.

“Citizens of Midlothian have contacted Code Enforcement and Animal Control to inquire if backyard chickens were allowed and expressed a desire to have backyard chickens for pets or egg production,” Smith said.

The council was then informed that, based on the current Animal Control ordinance, chickens are considered as any other livestock and that there is no differentiation between livestock — for example, cows, horses, goats, and chickens — within the current ordinance.

According to the consent agenda, the current City of Midlothian Animal Ordinance allows a resident to have "one livestock on property that must be at least one-half acre in size. Additional livestock is allowed based on each additional one-half-acre of property. By current ordinance, parcels under one-half acre are not allowed to have livestock. A survey was taken of a few North Texas cities regarding allowance of backyard chickens."

“What we are wanting to accomplish here is separate chickens from livestock,” Midlothian City Manager Chris Dick said, who also noted the request was to put restrictions on the number of backyard chickens in a residential area.

During the discussions, questions arose on how the city could regulate an ordinance in homeowner association areas and zero-lot-line neighborhoods.

“This applies to non-HOA communities,” Councilman Mike Rogers said.

After discussion continued, Midlothian Mayor Pro-tem Joe Frizzell said he "didn’t know chickens were so complicated.”

The council finally agreed to remove chickens as livestock and limit the number to no more than four fowl on a lot up to one-half acre and up to eight chickens on a one-acre lot.

Final action taken was to approve a resolution to officially finding and declaring the number of inhabitants residing within the city’s corporate city limits.

Assistant City Manager, Kristine Day told the council with a verified population more than 25,000 that the city could extend its ETJ territory to two miles.