October 20 Letters to the Editor

Editor,

Is it possible for all the local Marfa restaurants to consider uploading their change of hours on yelp.com rather than post a paper notice that only those in town see? 

I drive an hour to come into town and am all excited to enjoy a meal somewhere only to discover the owners have decided they’re going on vacation or whatever they’re doing when they close abruptly. 

It’s very disappointing to drive so far only to have to scramble to find anyone open. Choices are so limited as it is, to have such random hours without a way to know ahead of time is rather frustrating. Think of all the visitors you might be missing too.

Just a suggestion from a foodie who enjoys coming to Marfa for a meal, but is becoming less interested the more this happens. It’s not worth the gas or the frustration because invariably second choices aren’t as good.

Thanks,

Joy Kennelly 

Valentine

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Dear Editor,

I would like to comment on an article in The Big Bend Sentinel, 13 October, 2022 issue, written by Allegra Hobbs, entitled “After pushback from locals, Alpine City Council stalls approval of new Dollar Store.”

On 26 September, 2022, an action item came before the Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) to approve a replat application for consolidating lots for commercial retail development.

The action to approve the application died for lack of motion and our recommendation to the Council of the City of Alpine was to deny it.

I was surprised to read in the article that at some time in the recent past the City Council took up this issue — namely a request by Dollar Store to annex the land it bought — and voted to approve its annexation.

I wish this request had been forwarded to P&Z first. If it had, the citizens surrounding the proposed site would have been properly notified and invited to attend our meeting, where they could express their feelings on the issue.

Their feedback and our recommendation would have been forwarded on to the City Council, where it could have been further discussed in public.

By having multiple public discussions early in the process, citizens would have been fully informed of all the issues at hand, been able to express their feelings in multiple forums, and know that their city was being informative, transparent and receptive to community concerns.

I do agree with City Attorney Rod Ponton’s explanation that for the city to enforce its building codes and receive sales and property taxes from the business, the land had to be annexed.

Researching Texas municipal annexations and their related extraterritorial jurisdictions (ETJ), it wasn’t difficult to find a recent case (holding) supporting what Ponton said.

Citing the Third Court of Appeals in Dallas, in its published opinion on May 10, 2018, in Collin County, Texas v. The City of McKinney, Texas v. Custer Storage Center, LLC:

“The case arose from a dispute after Custer developed a self-storage facility in McKinney’s ETJ, acquiring building permits from the county but not from the city. Collin County and McKinney were operating under a so-called ‘1445 Agreement,’ which specified that the city had exclusive authority to regulate the subdivision plats and approve related permits in the city’s ETJ. 

… The Court ruled that no city may enforce building codes or collect building permits in its ETJ. The court specifically cited Town of Lakewood Village v. Bizios, a 2016 Texas Supreme Court decision, where the court had held that general law municipalities could not extend building codes or permits to the ETJ. 

The Dallas appeals court ruled that the Bizios decision also applies to home rule cities; therefore, every city is prohibited from enforcing building codes or permits in its ETJ. 

The opinion states that the city ‘lacks authority to require a landowner developing property in its [ETJ] to obtain City building permits, inspections and approvals, and pay related fees.’“

I don’t know the final outcome of this case, if it was appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, but I think it’s most likely the holding Ponton relied on when he recommended the annexation to the Alpine City Council.

The only thing I would take issue with would be what Mr. Ponton was reported to have said in the article regarding the annexation that, “The city can only annex land at the request of the owner.”

In the Home Rule Charter of the City of Alpine, TX, amended May 7, 2005, Section 2.03 :

“The City shall have the power … to annex …

(B) by action of the City Council, with or without the consent of the inhabitants or owners of the territory to be annexed.”

I would ask, if you live in Alpine, to call your ward council person and ask them to make it a city policy to send all applications for annexations and related issues to Planning & Zoning first so that these issues don’t become unnecessary controversies.

Sincerely,

Amit Rangra

Chair, Planning & Zoning Commission

Alpine, TX

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Dear Editor,

We’ve found it’s impossible to build a new business from the ground up without learning some hard lessons. The things my family has gained over the past year from architects, consultants, city officials, and Alpine citizens have led to significant changes in the initial design of the Chisos Brewing Co. As a soon-to-be local employer, we hope our neighbors feel they have a stake in Chisos, and we’re happy to update them on some of the most important changes.

Our plans have always included environmentally-conscious elements:

  • State-of-the-art, water-saving brewing equipment
  • A large water-saving, park-like native garden
  • Design elements that highlight Alpine’s unique social and geological histories
  • Hiring local and buying local whenever possible
  • Turning locally-grown and locally-produced ingredients into authentically-local beers

Whereas the Big Bend Brewery produced approximately 30,000 barrels (930,000 gallons) of beer per year, Chisos will initially produce only 1/30 of that amount, or about 1,040 barrels per year. Even if we someday become very successful, our maximum capacity (brewing twice a day, five days/week), won’t exceed 5,500 barrels/year. Too small to meet the 15,000 barrel/year industry definition of “microbrewery” (as established by the Brewers Association), Chisos Brewing will be classified a “taproom brewery.” 

More important for a business in our beautiful desert: even at maximum capacity (if we ever reach it), Chisos’ total operation will consume less water every month than two average American families. And, by recycling brewery wastewater for agricultural use, we’ll put less water back into Alpine’s sanitary sewer system than the average Alpine family already does.

Since initial building designs were presented in December 2021, we’ve made some important changes:

  • Reduced the size of Chisos’ taproom building by almost 25%, from 6,630 to 5,118 square feet over two floors
  • Purchased 22,651 square feet from Union Pacific for parking and leased a second nearby property for overflow parking if needed
  • Worked with a brewery waste consultant to create an environment-friendly method for disposing of waste brewing water, spent grain and yeast, and neutralized cleaning products by giving them to local farmers and ranchers for agricultural use. We’ve already received multiple requests for these nutrient-rich brewing byproducts.
  • Purchased a pickup and trailer to haul brewery waste twice a week 
  • Purchased a retired ambulance to repurpose as a mobile “Beerbulance” to provide beverages for local events 
  • In response to the city’s concern about noise pollution, Chisos will offer acoustic-only music outdoors, except for occasional special events and/or festival weekends. We also erected an 8-foot sound-reducing fence along the south boundary of the brewery property and, at the request of a neighbor, ensured the “good” side of the fence faces his property instead of ours.
  • Changed the exterior of the downsized taproom building from stark white to soft gray, to blend more comfortably into the neighborhood

Our family has poured time, resources, and our hearts into creating a welcoming place for all of Alpine’s citizens to meet, relax, and build community — a place everyone can be proud to visit with friends and family. We look forward to opening Chisos Brewing Company’s doors to you soon.

Thank you,

Lisa Fielder

Alpine

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Editor:

I Love Alpine, Texas!  

“Aren’t we lucky, Alpine is the best place to be!” No truer words have been said by a friend of mine.  

I grew up in Alpine, Texas, and I have always loved the people, sense of community, and peacefulness I find in Alpine. I want my little boys to see where I grew up, so we recently bought a historical Alpine home and we are having it designed and renovated by awesome professionals who live right here. 

I was an Alpine High School cheerleader, and I feel now, as an adult within my heart, there’s a cheerleader with a megaphone cheering loudly for my hometown. 

I proudly say I’m from Alpine, and people not familiar with Far West Texas say, “Is that near Marfa?”  

I politely correct them and say Marfa is near Alpine. Alpine is the largest town in the largest county in Texas!  

Oftentimes, I’m encouraging professionals such as physicians, teachers, caregivers, business owners, and entrepreneurs to move and start a business in my hometown so they can help “mis amigos” in the Big Bend region.  

I believe the Chisos Taproom will help the local economy and provide employment for people in Alpine. Murphy Street is looking good but will look even better than it’s ever been with Chisos Taproom. 

All of our close friends and longtime residents are supportive of Chisos Taproom being built. When parents come to town to visit their son or daughter at Sul Ross, or visitors come to town for Viva Big Bend Music Festival, an Alpine Cowboy’s baseball game, or step off Amtrak in Alpine, they can see a space and meet friendly people representative of our beautiful town. Best of all, the Chisos Taproom will be a wonderful meeting place for us locals and great lifelong friends to meet, gather and discuss how to keep improving our Alpine.  

Go Bucks! 

May Leal Michelotti 

Austin, TX


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