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Published Saturday, April 26, 2008 11:56 AM

Eagle recommendations in CS council races

Place 1

Councilman John Crompton vs. Derek Dictson -- Crompton says neighborhood integrity and controlled growth are his main focus. He said the council should re-ject any proposal that would funnel non-neighborhood traffic onto neighborhood streets. Originally he favored allowing neighborhoods to vote to limit the number of unrelated people living in a single-family residence to two, but later decided stronger enforcement of existing city ordinances is a better way to address neighborhood complaints.

Crompton worked to establish neighborhood overlay districts, which allow residents to ensure that any new or renovated structures in their neighborhood are consistent with the existing character of the neighborhood.

Although developers are required to pay park and infrastructure fees on the lots they sell, Crompton said neither are sufficient to pay the actual costs of city services to those areas. He insists that any new development should pay for itself and not cost existing taxpayers. Crompton favors a traffic-impact fee on new homes to pay for new roads and improvements needed to accommodate the new homes.

A world-renowned expert in parks and tourism, Crompton says that, despite an excellent parks staff, the city's parks system is "mediocre" at best. Crompton convinced his colleagues on the council to raise the park land development fee paid by developers from $540 to $900 per new home, but was unable to convince them to raise the fee to $1,900 per home, the amount he said is needed to pay for new parks in subdivisions.

Dictson fears the city is becoming anti-growth in its policies. "We need more of a focus on planning for growth. We should embrace it. We can't slow or try to stop growth," he said.

He said the city has to concentrate on its core services, such as police, fire, transportation, infrastructure and economic development. He said that transportation issues must be a priority.

Dictson noted that 22 percent of the city's budget goes to police protection, 19 percent to fire protection, 16 percent to parks and 13 percent to public works. With the transportation needs as the city grows, he said the council should prioritize transportation spending above parks. He is serving on the city's capital improvements committee that is working to decide what issues to include in a planned $60 million November bond issue.

The city should set a "fairly aggressive" annexation schedule, "bringing a little in each year," Dictson said. Doing so would allow the city to develop naturally as it doubles in size in the next two decades, he said.

Dictson said the city might consider adding an in-house economist to help direct the community's economic growth. He also would like to add a condominium zoning to the existing zoning categories. The city should encourage redevelopment of Northgate and the entire area north of University Drive into a mixed-use student area, he said.

A year ago, when Crompton first ran for the Place 1 seat, we questioned his commitment to the job in time and energy. He has proven to be a hard-working, dedicated council member who comes to meetings prepared to discuss the issues and actively works to promote his vision of a city with a high quality of life.

The Eagle recommends a vote for John Crompton for Place 1 on the College Station City Council.

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