MIDLOTHIAN — Prior to the beginning of the evening's business, the swearing in of Midlothian Mayor Bill Houston and Midlothian City Councilman Wayne Sibley took place.

Both were uncontested in the May election. After the swearing in, the council elected T.J. Henley for his first term as Midlothian Mayor Pro-Tem. Henley has been a member of the council since 2011.

After the regular business began, a plan to connect a walking trail along Farm-to-Market 663 and Lawson Road was unanimously approved by members of the council. As approved, the multipurpose pathway will travel 3,200 feet through the Lawson Farms subdivision.

“In 2010, the city purchased property from the developer to create a community park. A break in the trail developed at a drainage structure,” assistant city manager Kristine Day said. “To connect the trail to the park, the city’s staff worked with the developed to reroute the trail.”

The revised route will take the ten-foot wide trail through the subdivision and along a gas utility easement that runs through the subdivision.

“This pathway will provide pedestrian connectivity to and from the park to the existing trail,” Day said.

The Midlothian Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the revised plan at a previous meeting.

To avoid conflict with the South 14th Street project, the council unanimously approved the funding of an existing Sardis Water line.

“Based on the city’s working relationship with Sardis, Sardis has agreed to relocate their existing water line that conflicts with the project,” Midlothian City Engineer Mike Adams told the council.

The physical relocation work will be contracted by Sardis. When the work is completed, Midlothian will reimburse Sardis up to $78,000 for the cost of the relocation. The waterline is the only public utility that the city is responsible for covering the cost of the relocation. However, there are also other existing franchise utilities — such as Oncor and AT&T along this corridor that are in conflict with this project and will need to be relocated or adjusted, Adams explained. Since these facilities are located within the public right-of-way, the costs for this work will be borne by the associated utility.

A request for a variance in the city’s driveway access ordinance was made by Greig Moers representing P&G Custom homes.

In a previous separate action, Moers received the council’s approval to rezone roughly two acres of land located on Shady Grove Road. The zoning request was to rezone the tract from Agricultural to single family. Moers' plans are to build two high-value dwellings with each having an individual driveway.

Project planner and GIS coordinator for Midlothian, Marcos Narvaez, told the council, “Two of the proposed spacing distances fall short of the required 150’ minimum spacing requirement.”

He then showed a diagram where there are neighboring driveways there is less that the city minimum.

“The staff recommendation is only one single point of access by private driveway shall be shared by the proposed residential lots,” Narvaez said.

Moers replied, "to have one common driveway does do fit with the plans I have for these houses."

Councilman Ted Miller added to the discussion that five driveways in the short distance along the two- lane road would cause future problems.

The Midlothian Planning and Zoning Commission approved the request by a six-to-one split decision.

Following discussion between council members and Moers, the request was approved by a five-to-one vote with Miller casting the sole "no" vote.