QUINTANA — The City Council had a special meeting to handle requests from Freeport LNG to tear down two former residences. As part of the meeting, they also decided to make some changes to the process for handling such requests in the island town.

A large part of this was rehabbing a pre-demolition checklist to include the capping of water lines and proof sewage systems have not only been disconnected, but made safe. This would be in addition to the cost of a demolition permit, they decided March 7.

“This is the first step — they’re paid, they show us their certificate of insurance, their performance bond and an application fee,” Councilman Mike Fletcher said. “They go out and they do the pre-demolition checklist — that’s another step — then they’ve got to come back to us and we say, ‘Yes, now you can proceed with demolition.’”

Mayor Shari Wright liked the idea, finding it to be a better option for the town, alerting the town both that demolition would be happening and it would be done properly, she said.

“This gives us a little advanced notice that they’re going to demo,” Wright said.

The council also spoke in favor of adding a post-demolition checklist, which would have to be turned in to release the contractor’s performance bond.

The application would be voted on through council, prior to the city administrator handling the paperwork. The checklist will require the bond and insurance information in order to be approved.

A decision on standards for the decommissioning of septic systems was a major topic of discussion, wanting to avoid sinkholes and other safety hazards, as well as avoid contamination of the town’s water system. The most common way to do so is to fill existing systems with sand, leaving the council to decide how best to create proof that the decommissioning was performed. Notarized documents and photographic proof were among the ideas thrown around.

“I had people who I knew in the business and I asked them and they said, ‘Very, very rarely do we take them out because they are built in place and fragile,’” Fletcher said.

The council chose to add the verbiage “attach pictures” to the decommissioning part of the checklist.

A motion was made and approved to adopt the changes as discussed in the meeting. The requests were also approved, pending their submission of the required documents, once they are produced.

As council finalizes the tweaks to their process, the questions turn to Freeport LNG, which is making the requests that inspired the updates.

“Since 2014, FLNG has purchased approximately 60 houses in Quintana. These purchases were not location specific. They spanned many areas of Quintana,” Freeport LNG Corporate Communications Director Heather Browne said.

While the company has not given their plans for the properties they’ve purchased, or verified whether they have any, they have said why they will be eliminating the two residences, along with a third that had already been demolished — at 2551 Compass Court, 2540 Deep Sea Drive and 803 Burnet Street, respectively.

“The two structures currently scheduled for demolition require substantial repairs in order to be safely used. Therefore, it is more cost-effective to demolish the properties at this time,” Browne said.

Meanwhile, they have allowed local first responders to use some of the other properties they have purchased for training, allowing SWAT and tactical teams to use some buildings they have deemed “unusable” for exercises.

In other business, the City Council will have a two-person committee made up of Fletcher and Councilwoman Amy Waldorf review the city’s ordinances for possible changes, updates and deletions.

Kent Holle is a reporter for The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0154.

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