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Downtown loft apartments in the works


LOFT APARTMENTS – The upstairs space in buildings such as these could soon be able to be converted into loft apartments.


by ARIEL McRAE  |  Associate Editor

The Humboldt Board of Mayor and Aldermen met last Monday, March 13 to discuss a relatively short agenda. While the agenda was short, there were a few big items up for vote with major development potential for the businesses of Humboldt.

First, the board voted on the second reading of Ordinance 2023-01, which was an amendment added at the last special called meeting on Monday, February 26 to add Juneteenth to the list of Holidays recognized in the city of Humboldt.

June 19, 2021 marked the 156th anniversary of the last African American slaves being freed in Texas. President Joe Biden signed Juneteenth National Independence Day into law as a federally recognized holiday the same year.  Now, city employees will receive an extra holiday on their schedule, resulting in paid holiday time off for all full time employees with other pay schedules and details for other city employees listed as well.

After a 5-0 vote for adding Juneteenth to the city calendar, Alderman Leon McNeal requested that the agenda be amended for the current meeting so a previously tabled item could be added before adjournment. At an earlier meeting in the month, the board voted to table hiring Mattie Hall as the director of the Senior Citizen Center because her name had not been listed in the board packet for the meeting as a recommended hire. The motion to add this vote to the end of the agenda was approved unanimously. 

The next item on the agenda was the first reading of Ordinance 2023-02, which is an ordinance to amend the zoning ordinance of Humboldt to allow apartments upon certain conditions to be allowed in B-3 districts. During the discussion, Alderman Tammy Porter asked what the certain conditions were for the potential apartments. Mayor Marvin Sikes deferred to Mike Uselton, the city building inspector, to answer Porter’s concerns. He explained that the B-3 district is a central business district and the only current businesses within that B-3 zone are the one’s downtown on Main Street.

Uselton further stated that the process to creating apartments would not be simple as there are many steps within the process to consider. If a building is old, there will have to be codes brought up to current standards, the layout of the space have to meet the floor plan requirements and the fire marshal for Humboldt, Greg Lencioni, will have to inspect it as well.

After the building inspector satisfied Porter’s questions, the mayor called for a vote. Alderman Shane Lynch recused himself stating that he owned property on Main Street.

“Shane, your wife [Libby] owns property,” McNeal joked about the yoga studio Lynch’s wife owns on Main Street.

Lynch and the rest of the board laughed. Lynch then corrected that he had to recuse himself because his wife owned property in the B-3 district so it would be biased of him to vote. The board approved the first reading 4-1-1.

Another first ordinance reading was on the agenda last Monday that affects the city of Humboldt and its business owners. If approved, Ordinance 2023-03 will make amendments to allow beer and wine sales within the B-3 district. Currently, in Humboldt, beer cannot be sold for consumption if it is within 500 feet of a public park, public playground, schools or churches. If the ordinance passes completely, the 500 feet rule would not apply for businesses within the B-3 district. This would allow for major growth, especially on Main Street. Several business owners were in attendance in support of the passing of this ordinance.

McNeal asked Humboldt Public Library Director John Blankenship, who was in attendance, if he was okay with this passing during the discussion. Blankenship said he was fine with it. McNeal also asked Humboldt Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Love is she was okay with it as well. Love stated she was 100-percent for it. McNeal finished by asking the Humboldt Chief of Police Reynard Buchanan if he was okay with the ordinance passing. Chief Buchanan stated he was okay with it as long as Humboldt remained a family friendly place and there were no bars added to Main Street.

“It is 2023. Jackson, Trenton and everywhere [has bars downtown],” Porter exclaimed in defense of alcohol sales and the advancement of the city.

McNeal told the room and the board that he was originally against the ordinance until Blankenship, Love and Chief Buchanan said they were okay with it. Them being for the ordinance made the ordinance okay for him.

Love shared before the vote took place, “We have had interest from people wanting to put in restaurants. The number one thing on the survey we have put out the last couple of years is that people want fine dining. Fine dining is generally, ‘Can I have a glass of wine or a glass of beer with my steak?’ That is what people would like to see downtown and I would love to see it. Half of Main Street is here tonight in support of [the ordinance] including one of the restaurants that would like to do [sell beer or wine] at some point.“

The discussion ended and the mayor called for a vote. Porter requested that the vote be a roll call vote. McNeal read the names of each board member to record their yea or nay. Lynch once again recused himself with a chuckle about “never living this down” referencing his wife owning the property he recused himself for instead of the property being in his name. The first reading of the ordinance passed 4-0-1. Mayor Sikes mentioned there will be a public hearing for Ordinance 2023-03 on Monday, March 27 at 5 p.m.

Other items on the agenda were:

•The Humboldt Police report for February was approved 5-0. The mayor congratulated the department on their number of complaints being lower than normal for last month. The average number of complaints received per month is usually around 1,100, but in February there were only 700.

•There were four resignations from the street department to vote on during the meeting. Porter asked Mayor Sikes if they would be receiving some of the resignation letters from those on the list.

The mayor responded that they would be receiving them, but for three of the people resigning on the list, their reasons could not be publicly stated therefore they were not included in the packet. He told Porter he would be able to talk with the board about it afterward. The resignations for the street department were unanimously approved.

•Last on the list was an added agenda item for the hiring of Mattie Hall as the Senior Center Director. Mayor Sikes commented on how awesome he thought Hall would do at the job because she already has done a great job while working at the center.

Porter requested that in the future when jobs become available, those jobs to be published rather than just offering the job to someone so as to be fair to others waning to apply.

Mayor Sikes said he did not think about it because it was promoting from within the organization, but in the future he would ensure that the jobs were posted for equal opportunity to apply from others vying for a position. The board approved hiring Hall 5-0.

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