West Point asked to stop using land as firing range

Published 6:56 am Thursday, June 17, 2021

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West Point has agreed to stop using a practice range on Old West Point Road as the city works out a zoning issue with Harris County.

Councilwoman Deedee Williams brought up the issue to the council after the council approved a rezoning request by June Barronton for 1201 2nd Avenue to change the property to residential zoning.

“Regarding zoning in general, we may need to just tighten up on that,” Williams said. “Not so much the City of West Point’s zoning rules and regulations, but as it relates to other changes in the city limits.”

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Williams specified she was referring to the West Point Police Department’s practice range on Old West Point Rd. According to City Manager Ed Moon, the property is owned by the city but not annexed into the city.

“I’m speaking specifically of the Harris County issue, I understand that a cease and desist order that’s been delivered to us. I haven’t heard anything about it,” Williams said.

Community Development Director Dennis Dutton quelled that notion.

“I can answer that, there has been no cease and desist order legally filed against the city,” Dutton said. “I do know there was a request for us to do a rezoning, which is a legal issue. There has been no official cease and desist from Harris County.”

Moon says the Harris County Community Development has expressed a concern that the range is not permitted under the current zoning.

“We are working to resolve this with Harris County,” Moon told the Valley Times-News. “Harris County requested us to stop work, and we have complied until this can be resolved.”

Once that is worked out, Moon said public notice will be issued to assure the community that the police department is meeting the standards for the operation of the range. Moon also noted the range facility is not open to the public and usage will be occasional.

Through an open records request, the Valley Times-News obtained an email sent from Harris County Community Development Director Brian Williams to Moon, West Point Police Chief Donald Britt and Utility Director Sammy Inman stating the 20 acres of land owned by the City of West Point located on Old West Point Road is zoned A-1 (Agricultural & Forestry) and located in Harris County. As a result, the property must comply with the County’s Zoning Ordinance and rezoning to CORD (Commercial Outdoor Recreation District is required to utilize that land as a firing range.

“Therefore, until such applications are filed and the proper processes begin, this is to advise that all use of the property as a firing range or any other use not permitted in A-1, is to cease and desist,” Williams said in the email.

According to Harris County Assistant County Manager Nancy McMichael, the email was ultimately hand delivered to West Point due to the email being bounced back because of incorrect email addresses.

In other action, the council also approved an ordinance that will allow three types of murals — historical, original art and limited message murals.

Moon said any other forms of outdoor visual art that do not fit into these three mural types will be regulated by the City of West Point’s sign ordinance.

Location, height, overall size, and appropriateness will be determined in the application and permitting process, and murals will not be allowed in any residential zoning district.

During Monday’s meeting, the council also approved the purchase of a commercial playground set to be installed at 6th Avenue Park. The structure will cost the city $32,632.85.

The council will convene again for a work session on Tuesday, June 29 at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.