Several residents spoke at the October 11 meeting of the governing body of Blanco during the Public Comments portion in regards to the proposed signage ordinance developed by the Planning and Zoning Commission with help from the Blanco Chamber of Commerce.
Local merchant Penny Conn urged council not to pass the ordinance.
“We do not need more laws,” she commented, adding that she has a petition with over 50 signatures of other residents also opposed to the ordinance, which would limit the size and location of signage as part of a move to “keep Blanco Blanco” and preserve the rural character of the community.
Henry Knox added, “I agree with everything Penny says—we have too many laws,” qualifying his remarks with the disclaimer, “Laws that keep us safe are good.”
Dennis Moore suggested better communication with businesses and the use of incentives. “Don’t tell people what they can and cannot do with their own property.”
Local entrepreneur and Chamber of Commerce president Liz Waller-Broyal took an opposing position, stating that when she moved to Blanco, she saw beautiful landscape in all directions, but now all she sees are big signs blocking the view.
“I wish we had had more rules back then,” she concluded. The ordinance, which is in its final form, still faces two public hearings and approval by city council. It can be found on line at www.cityofblanco.com.
Retta Martin reminded council members that Keep Blanco Beautiful is getting holiday lights out to be ready for the Hill Country Trail of Lights. She said that there will be numerous events in Bindseil Park and urged businesses and residents to decorate. PEC will help put up lights in preparation for the holiday season.
Council members unanimously approved the Design Guidelines developed by the Blanco Historic Commission. Mayor Chuck Homan stressed that the guidelines are optional for residents to use for renovations in order to keep the historical character of their residences and businesses. A copy of the guidelines will be available at City Hall.
Mayor Homan asked council members to consider establishing a policy for dealing with requests for Hotel-Motel Tax money. Some organizations, such as The Pioneer Museum and the Old Blanco County Courthouse Preservation Society, already have funds budgeted. The issue arose when the Rodeo Association requested funds for advertising their October Rodeo events after the September council meeting. The mayor gave them $2,900, which he said had to be used by the end of September or go into the city’s Reserve Fund. He stressed that the Rodeo Association had done all the paperwork and qualified under HOT Money guidelines.
Council member Danny Ray said that requests need to be presented to council to prevent organizations from bypassing council, and council member Al Turner agreed. Pioneer Museum spokesperson Pat Vallone asked why her group was unable to get funds for their November 11 Veterans’ Day festivities and was told she must present paperwork to council at the beginning of December, when more money becomes available.
Chamber president Liz Waller-Broyal reported that the chamber has a new executive director, Amos Ramirez, who will assume his duties after current director Penny Thomas leaves on October 19. Newly-elected officers and directors for 2012 include Marcy Westcott, president; Liz Waller-Broyal, past president; Debbie Homeier, Gabriel Gregerman, Carolyn Zbytovsky, and Jennifer Oines. Russ Whitlock of LBJ National Historical Park has been approved as Advisor; and newly-elected directors for two-year terms are Rick Sebenoler, Blanco Hill Country Retreat; Ralph de Leon, Blanco County Inn; Lindsey Adams, Lindsey Clare Photography; Charlotte Widick, Healing Arts Community Health Center; Jon Brieger, Redbud Café/Brieger Pottery; and Pat Vallone, individual member (non-business).
Proceeds from the Serve and Protect Mixer held September 30 totaled $550, which will be donated in the form of equipment to the Blanco Police Department, after consultation with Chief Milton Willmann. Upcoming events include a Ribbon Cutting October 21 at 5 p.m. at Rain Bird Gallery, a ribbon cutting and grand opening October 22 at 10 a.m. at the Buggy Barn Museum, a Stars in the Park Program at Blanco State Park November 19, and the Harlem Ambassadors Fundraising Event January 26.
“We have a lot going on,” said Waller-Broyal. “We hope to see you at all these events.”
Police Chief Milton Willmann reported that six cases have recently been sent to the county attorney and three to the district attorney. 117 citations were issued in September, with 28 actual tickets written, a few of which were for school-zone violations, speeding, and others for driver license violations such as driving with no license or on a suspended license. He praised Officer Tammie Ross for her selection by the Child Advocacy Center in Marble Falls as the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for her work with abandoned and abused children.
In other business, council members unanimously approved a change in health insurance for city employees from United Health Care to Blue Cross-Blue Shield. In answer to council member Rebecca Howerton’s query about the reason for the change, city secretary Bobbie Mowery explained that the change will save the city $400 a month. Council also approved adding Vision Care benefits, at a cost of $7.69 per employee per month, to employee benefits. As the result of an Employee Performance and Salary Review held in Executive Session, council voted to give water department and administrative department employees a raise.