After a brief public hearing, members of the governing body of Blanco heard plans from local child care provider Peggy Berryhill for a new child care facility to be built on her property at 13th Street and Greenlawn Parkway in Blanco. Identifying herself as the only certified child care provider in Blanco, Berryhill informed council that she housed a daycare center in her home for 20 years, and for the past two-and-a half-years has operated a facility in the former parsonage at the Blanco United Methodist Church. The proposed 2800-3000 square-foot building would occupy one-fourth of a block, with Berryhill’s home sitting on the other half. In response to mandated notification of neighbors, two residents wrote letters opposing the center, based on the noise level. Planning and Zoning Commission chair Dana LeBlanc informed council that the commission had approved the special use permit at their last meeting, with two dissenting votes. Berryhill explained that the children will play outside approximately 1 1/2 hours in the morning and 1 1/2 hours in the afternoon. She plans to construct a privacy fence down the Greenlawn side of the property. Council members Rebecca Howerton and Al Turner both asked to see a plat of the property, so Berryhill drew a quick sketch. She said the facility would face 13th Street, with the playground in back. Howerton voiced the need for a setback on 13th Street to provide a place for parents to drop off and pick up children in order to prevent traffic congestion due to parents going to and from Blanco Elementary School. Council member Bobby McClung said, “With all the young families in Blanco, I’m inclined to grant the permit.” In a unanimous vote, council approved the permit.
John Whitesides, president of the Old Blanco Courthouse Preservation Society, asked council to continue the water use rate abatement for another year, based on the attractiveness of the courthouse square. “The results (of watering) are pretty spectacular,” he said, adding that he attributes increased visitation to the courthouse—981 visits between August 2010 and April 2011—and the increased revenue to the city to the enhanced appearance of the courthouse square. Bobby McClung added, “The courthouse is the centerpiece of the town,” and council member Danny Ray said emphatically, “I think we should continue it.” Blanco Chamber of Commerce president Liz Waller-Broyal interjected that she does not think it is fair that all visitors are directed to use bathrooms at the courthouse, further increasing water use. Council voted unanimously to continue the rate abatement for another year. With the exception of one month, Whitesides said the bill has averaged around $150 per month.
Public Works Director Nathan Cantrell informed council that the city has decided to use Canyon Lake water instead of draining the Blanco River water supply, as was done in the most recent drought two years ago. The goal is to keep the Blanco State Park looking as attractive as possible to forestall its closure by the Department ofTexas Parks and Wildlife as a cost-cutting measure. Mayor Chuck Homan said, “It is better to keep the park looking good in tourist season.” Cantrell added that it is more economical to use Canyon Lake water anyway.
Chamber president Liz Waller-Broyal presented a request for a street closure during the upcoming Lavender Festival. Beginning at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 9, Pecan Street between 4th and 2nd Streets and 3rd Street from Highway 281 to Pecan Street would be closed until the festival ends on Sunday, June 12. Chamber director Penny Thomas and Police Chief Milton Willmann have visited all affected businesses to make them aware of the closures. Willmann also notified council that there will be an increased police presence and that the Blanco County Sheriff’s Department has offered to supplement the Blanco Police Department.
According to Waller-Broyal, “The Chamber’s goal is to make this weekend flow as smoothly as possible and to accommodate our businesses to the best of our ability.” Council granted the request unanimously. Waller-Broyal also reminded residents that those wishing to volunteer at the Lavender Festival should stop by the chamber for details. Volunteer training will take place June 2 at Carriage Hills Ranch.
She also mentioned that a number of local events will take place on May 21, including the Real Ale Bike Ride, Market Days, the Blanco Classic Car Show, and the Bands for Band at Yett Park. The chamber received its share of Hotel-Motel taxes (HOT money) for a total of $7677.23. The funds will be used to promote Blanco through advertising venues in the San Antonio, Austin¸ Dallas/Fort Worth, and Garner State Park areas. Finally, a video of Blanco has been completed and will be available soon on the chamber website (www.blancochamber.com).
In her report Planning and Zoning Commission chair Dana LeBlanc tendered her resignation to council, based on family responsibilities and the difficulty of balancing her job with P&Z commitments. She also notified council of the resignation of commissioner Brad Farbstein. Those wishing to serve on the Planning and Zoning Commission must be residents of the city, although one member may reside in the ETJ.
Council granted Linda McDonald a setback variance for a porch on a house at 13th and Mesquite Streets, based on discrepancies in the survey of where her property line actually lies. Mayor Homan reported that the city is working with Sultemeier Surveying to correct the problem of the roads being “not exactly where they are supposed to be.” City attorney Eddy Rogers countered, “The roads are where they are; the buildings are where they are. Surveyors have been working off the wrong markers, in my opinion.” There are at least two surveys of the property, he explained: “The bottom line is that there is a survey out there which says she does not need a variance.” Rebecca Howerton reminded McDonald that she should have gone through P&Z to ask for a variance.
Police Chief Willmann reported that the call volume was up in April, with around 50 calls. Officers also made eight warrant arrests, and roughly the same number of traffic citations were issued. Due to “good police work” by Blanco officer Tammy Ross, a robbery at the Blanco County Inn was solved, and all stolen property was recovered. Willman also reported a decrease in property crimes, attributing it to increased visibility of officers. Council member Al Turner advocated bringing out the radar trailer as a deterrent to speeding during the Lavender Festival.
In the Public Comments portion of the meeting, Blanco Historic Commission chair Retta Martin reported her attendance at a conference in Austin and notified council that May is Historic Preservation Month. She also reported that a Texas Historical Marker will be placed on the CCC-built pavilion at Blanco State Park in a special ceremony May 18 at 6 p.m. The public is invited. Martin also warned council that the Comprehensive Master Plan was developed by hundreds of Blanco residents, and that a small group of people is making decisions for the city.
Blanco Emergency Medical Services Director Mike West introduced himself to those in attendance and welcomed the public to attend meetings on the second Monday of each month. EMS currently has two fulltime medics and provides 24-hour service. The public is invited to come by the facility at any time.
Finally, Mayor Homan introduced Boy Scouts from Troop 497 and their leader Larry Kuebel. Involvement in community activities is one of the requirements for the Citizenship in the Community badge, one of the requirements for Eagle Scout, explained Kuebel.