The Blanco Planning and Zoning Commission convened their regular meeting on Monday evening, August 1, with the updated signage ordinance on the agenda.
“The sign ordinance, which has been on our shoulders now for months,” commission chair Tony Vela began, “we need to go ahead and decide what we’re going to do with it. Everyone has gotten a copy of it. You’ve had an opportunity to review it. Does anyone have any comments in reference to it?”
Commissioner Connie Barron explained the history of the updated ordinance and how there were so many copies floating around.
“It started out as a change to the current ordinance,” she said. A workgroup was formed, taking into account changes from code enforcement officer Pete McKinney and other suggestions. Then-chair Dana LeBlanc then wanted the commission to use the Dripping Springs sign ordinance as a model, Barron explained.
The commissioners then spent endless hours modifying the document; Dripping Springs uses an ordinance restricted to monument signs, and the new Blanco ordinance would require pole signs.
There were a lot of changes, Barron said, but the ordinance is very well written and thorough. The new ordinance is longer than the current one because all the definitions are included, along with the details of procedures, permitting, and variancesitems that are in the Unified Development Code (UDC) now, only in other sections.
“It’s much easier to use,” Barron said. “Everything you ever want to know is all in one place.”
The ordinance includes topics that Blanco hasn’t had to deal with yet, such as mobile concessions. When something came up, Barron said, it would be legal by default.
The revisions incorporated Pete McKinney’s changes, and, Vela said, input from meetings with various outside groups, including the city council and chamber of commerce. McKinney had worked on changes with the previous Planning & Zoning commissioners for a year before he was handed the Dripping Springs ordinance and his previous work had been discarded, McKinney said.
Commissioner Mike Barnes asked if the new ordinance was a consensus among the groupscouncil, citizens, and chamber. Barron replied that the comments were incorporated and, when the meetings ended, the problems were resolved. The size limit was enlarged, Barron said, as businesses wanted a little more space.
Barron said that the updated ordinance was now up for the commission’s consideration and so the members could catch any remaining problems before a public hearing.
Barron highlighted the last problem she had found: the current lighting ordinance exempts signs and tells the reader to find signage lighting rules in the signage ordinance. The new signage ordinance, however, tells the reader to follow the lighting ordinance. The wording would have to be reconciled.
Code enforcement officer McKinney reported that externally lit signs were currently illegal; those around town were grandfathered as they were already in place when the UDC went into effect. Only internally lit signs are allowed.
After much discussion between commissioners and McKinney, the commission decided to remove the signage exemption from the lighting ordinance. The result would allow externally lit signs again, with lights allowed by the lighting ordinance.
Barron moved to present the new signage ordinance at a public hearing next month with the amendment to the current outdoor lighting ordinance to remove the signage exemption. Courtney Curbow seconded. The motion carried unanimously.
In the public comments section, Retta Martin thanked the commissioners for attending the Blanco Historic Preservation Action Plan workshop recently.
The commission also considered adopting Pete McKinney’s all-purpose variance form. “It works wonders,” McKinney said. Barnes moved to adopt the variance request form and require it for appropriate actions. Matt Lewis seconded and the motion then passed.
As there was an opening on the commission, the commissioners considered the application of Nelson Wheatley.
“Nelson is a workhorse, willing to come to tedious meetings,” Barron said. Barron then moved to approve Wheatley and recommend his appointment. Curbow seconded. The motion then passed.
The meeting adjourned at 7:36pm.