People in Orange repairing their flood-damaged houses will be able to live in an RV or travel trailer on their property for up to a year. The Orange City Council Tuesday made the decision to waive the regulations that prohibit people from living in trailers in residential neighborhoods.
The city staff had recommended allow the trailers for six months and then review an extension. However, council members were concerned people couldn’t repair their houses in six months. The vote ended up with temporarily allowing the trailers at houses for up to a year.
City Manager Dr. Shawn Oubre said the RVs and trailers would need to have water and sanitary sewer hook-ups for “health and safety. We don’t want them to discharge into the back yard,” he said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been putting people with damaged homes in apartments or hotels, Oubre said. “We want people to be connected to their properties,” he said.
The council also approved dropping fees for building permits issued to repair damage from the Tropical Storm Harvey flood. City Planning Director Kelvin Knauf said the no-fee permits will be issued for 45 days.
The city conducted a public hearing on the new tax rate and drew no comments. The tax rate will be 71 cents and 774 one-thousandth of a cent per $100 valuation. The rate is a slight increase from last year.
Oubre said the rate was first set to deal with a high increase in the costs for employee health insurance. The increase was only 16 percent, less than expected.
However, Oubre advised the council to keep the higher, advertised rate instead of lowering it a fraction of a cent. He said the city will need to rebuild emergency reserve funds to replace the ones that will be spent on the recent flood.
The council agreed to hire a consultant to monitor debris pickup from the flood. Oubre said FEMA wants the monitor. FEMA will reimburse the city for the debris pickups that meet regulations. Oubre said the pickup is only for private residences, not for businesses and non-profit groups.
Oubre said the city will have two different debris pickup rounds for all areas.
The public will need to follow the debris regulations to keep different items in separate piles. Different piles should be set up for household and construction debris, electronics debris, discarded appliances and greenwaste like limbs and trees.
Some homeowners have debris going across their front yards. Oubre said the debris within 10 feet from the street can be picked up with the grappling truck. “if it (debris) is not within 10 feet and reachable by the boom, they’re going to pass you by,” he said.
Residents will be able to push debris that is spread out closer to the street after the first pass of the trucks.
Waste Management garbage trucks are regularly running now for normal household waste. Oubre said the company is trying to keep schedules, but the city now has a lot of trash that fills up the trucks sooner than usual. Also, the company has employees on leave to take care of their own damaged properties, he said.
The council will have a special meeting September 19 at 9 a.m. for the first reading of the new tax rate. The new rate, along with the new budget, will go into effect October 1.
At-Large Position 1 Councilor Bill Mello praised the city staff for keeping operations going during the rainstorm and flood. He said 911 was working with police and fire departments responding. Water and sewer service were also functioning. “The city never did quit working,” he said.
District 2 Councilor Brad Childs said the 95 of the city’s 195 employees had damaged homes, but they continued to do their work for the public.
Mayor Jimmy Sims also praised the city staff and department heads for their work.
Oubre and Assistant City Manager Jay Trahan were among the employees who had flooded houses.