Bill Houston is no longer the mayor of Midlothian. The announcement occurred during the Midlothian City Council meeting Tuesday.
Mayor Pro Tem Joe Frizzell said Houston had moved out of the city limits and is no longer mayor, effective immediately. Frizzell will act as mayor pro tem until the May 4 election.
“He has relocated his primary residence to the outside of the city limits,” Frizzell read from an announcement. “As a result, he will step down as mayor effective immediately.”
This does not come unprecedented though. Houston announced last month that he will resign as mayor mid-way through his term. He stated it was for personal reasons, according to a previous Daily Light report.
At the time, he intended to be mayor until the May election.
“We hate to lose Bill,” Frizzell added.
After the announcement, business continued as usual for the council. The major topic of discussion was solar farms in Midlothian.
Two items involving the solar farms were discussed, but no action was taken. The council voted unanimously to continue the discussion to the April 9 meeting to allow more time for research. Those registered to speak will have to wait until the future meeting to vote their opinions.
The discussion centered around what restrictions and requirements to include in the city’s zoning ordinance as it pertains to solar farms.
Trenton Robertson urged the council to make concrete decisions now for the ordinance, so it is consistent as solar farms make their way to Midlothian.
“We want to reiterate that this is going to be where we are going to allow it in our zoning ordinance,” he said. “This is not dealing with a specific property but looking at city impact.”
These “farms” are areas of land in which a large number of solar panels are installed in order to generate electricity.
City staff made several recommendations for requirements surrounding the use of solar farms in the city. These recommendations include a minimum of 25 megawatts for every two and a half acres, a maximum solar array height at 15 feet, a 20-foot landscape buffer and an 8-foot chain link fence around the perimeter.
Councilmember Mike Rodgers said he was concerned about voting tonight because of how little he knows about solar farms. His concern was with the increased temperatures around the farms and the impact the panels could have on surrounding residents.
“I’m putting myself in the place of the people who were there first,” Rodgers said. “If I was living there I would not want to be looking at a solar farm.”
His main concern was the sudden change in scenery for residents that may live in proximity of the farms.
He said he would like to see a thicker landscape wall with trees and shrubbery.
“I want the density to be so I don’t have to look at that,” he said.
Rodgers noted, in his mind, he wants a landscape screen wall and then the 8-foot fence behind that. He wants it to where the neighboring homes don’t have to look at a sea of solar panels — or at least make it more difficult to see.
“You can never make something 100 percent nonvisible,” he said.
Michael Hills, land development attorney at Innovative Solar Systems, works for the company looking to build a solar farm on about 386 acres on the south side of Forbes Road.
He supplied the council with more information regarding solar farms and the impact they can have on the environment and surrounding community.
After receiving the additional materials, Justin Coffman made the motion to table the item and continue the discussion until the next meeting. This will allow for more time to research.
“I read the packet and felt fairly educated on the topic before walking in here tonight, but Mike brings up some good points,” Coffman said. “Frankly, I’m a little nervous about it to tell you the truth. I would like to do more research.”
The discussion will continue at the next city council meeting at 6 p.m. on April 9 at Midlothian City Hall located at 104 West Avenue E in Midlothian.
Samantha Douty, @SamanthaDouty