The Blanco Planning & Zoning Commission held its monthly meeting on Monday evening, October 3, at the Byars Building. With all the commissioners present and the signage ordinance on the agenda for the commission and public to discuss, no one showed up to make any complains or ask for changes.
“The last time we met, we took into consideration some changes, and those changes we decided were for the good of the cause and adopted them,” chairman Tony Vela began. “That particular form of the sign ordinance has been on [blancoguide.com and cityofblanco.com] ... so people have had an opportunity to look at it. If anybody is unhappy with the sign ordinance, this is the place where they should’ve come to tell us that they were unhappy.”
“I put this on the agenda after discussing with Penny Conn about her letters and her concerns,” commissioner Connie Barron said. “I called her and said, ‘Penny, I’m going to put it on the agenda, come on. It hasn’t gone to council yet.’ ... We haven’t officially had the final hearing to adopt and send it to the council because of the last changes. This is exactly what we want to have happen. If you have concerns or issues, then bring it to us and let’s get it done if we need to make some changes. ... If she or any of the folks she’s been talking to who have been signing petitions and concerned about it, this is the forum to talk about it.”
Vela noted that people have had months to come before the commission to voice concerns.
Mayor Chuck Homan expressed surprise that Penny Conn was not present.
Barron added that Conn’s second letter to the editor said that this was driven out of Washington D.C., related to the Tea Party movement. “No more rules, no more laws, no more regulation,” Barron said. “They can’t stop Washington from passing laws but they’ll stop them here. ... I said I was sorry–I share her frustration with D.C. being nonfunctional at this time–but the fact that they can’t sit down and have a civil conversation and hear each other’s concerns and get something done, shouldn’t take that same dysfunction and drive it down to the level of government where we are able to sit down across the table and make compromises.”
Commissioner Matt Lewis noted that the garage sale signs feel most intrusive. The average resident doesn’t need a business sign but will need a garage sale sign.
Mayor Homan replied that he understood Lewis’ reasoning but the ordinance only affects a small part of the population. The restrictions on signs aren’t directed at the general public but at those who abuse the system.
Lewis said another concern was that, as soon as the sign ordinance passes, some signs around town become noncompliant. He said that those signs would be grandfathered.
“We need to make sure that everyone realizes that this is an ordinance designed to help the small businesses and plan for the future,” Lewis said, “especially since we have the Walmarts coming on 46, just down the road. This ordinance is designed to protect us as a city as growth occurs in the future.”
Barron added that the ordinance helps small businesses stay on a level playing field against large businesses.
In other businesses, the Planning and Zoning Commission continues to look for another commissioner. The ordinance allows members who live in the Blanco city limits or inside the extra-territorial jurisdiction, or who own a business in town and live outside the city. Applications are available at city hall.
Commissioner Courtney Curbow was voted to be the vice chairperson in case chair Tony Vela could not attend a meeting.