Rollingwood clarifies construction processes under coronavirus
“A new home is under construction on Randolph Place in Rollingwood. In light of the COVID-19 crisis, new procedures are in place for contractors doing business in the city. [PHOTO BY LESLEE BASSMAN]”
With more than 70 active construction permits, Rollingwood officials clarified the process for contractors to proceed with construction projects in the city, now requiring the approval of forms and other measures to ensure the safety of the workers and local residents.
A completed Request for Construction Continuation form must be filed by contractors working within Rollingwood. The form states that construction work is deemed part of the essential services that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott provided in his recent executive order and is allowed to continue during the COVID-19 crisis. The city is asking contractors to provide a justification for construction to continue, City Administrator Amber Lewis said, and the form instructs the applicant to describe the nature of the project and why “it qualifies as critical infrastructure.”
During the COVID-19 crisis, the city prohibits projects that involve the following:
- Installing irrigation.
- Removing or trimming trees, with the exception of foliage the city has deemed immediately necessary for health and safety.
- Installing solar panels.
Additionally, contractors must supplement their request with a health, safety and environment plan detailing how its employees will abide by guidelines set out by President Donald Trump and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding COVID-19 precautions. They include including good hygiene practices, environmental cleanliness, sanitation and maintaining social distancing. The plan should also address how contractors will protect and maintain the city’s critical infrastructure, such as water and wastewater lines, during the project.
A work schedule showing single trades—such as plumbers or electricians—operating one at a time at the job site, detailing the type of work being performed, describing which days the site will be occupied and noting the number of contractors slated for the project is also required.
Violators of this new measure may incur a fine of up to $2,000 and 180 days in jail.
City Attorney Charles Zech said Austin adopted specific guidelines and policies for construction and how projects can continue within that city. However, he said Travis County did not enact such ordinances and its order does not give clarity regarding local construction.
During its April 15 meeting, Development Services Manager Carrie Caylor, who reviews the builders’ documentation, said the response to the requirements has been “really positive.”
“I think our process, the way we’ve been going currently, by and large has been pretty good,” Mayor Michael Dyson said. “I do think, as we go forward, it’s important for us to continue to remind builders that we’re not through this yet.”
Caylor and Dyson cited only one instance that forced city officials to address compliance violations with a contractor.
Although the new process is in place, it hasn’t been formally adopted by the council. Zech said Dyson, as mayor, can issue such orders that fall within the city’s disaster declaration.
“We’re going to remain and continue to be very diligent in monitoring these sites to make sure that they’re in continued compliance,” Dyson said.
At the meeting, City Council approved:
- Extending the mayor’s local declaration of disaster and adopting Abbott’s March 31 order, as well as the portion of Travis County’s recent ordinance, requiring face masks or coverings in public. The orders are enforceable locally, with citations being adjudicated in the city’s municipal court.
- A first reading for a $100,000 grant program established by the Rollingwood Community Development Corporation to provide emergency relief to the city’s small businesses. The project proposal will come before the council again on April 30.
- Appointing David Raymond to the Parks Commission and both Philip Dixon and Ronald Hasso to the Utility Commission.
- An agreement with consultant Kittelson LLC to review and evaluate impacts to the city from the MoPac South Highway Improvement Project. Council members Amy Pattillo and Wendi Hundley will work with Lewis to delineate the items for review from a proposed list and its relevant pricing.