Ten years ago Blanco had no plan, no Unified Development Code (UDC). There was no guidance on what could be built or modified, lighting and signage were not regulated and there was no formal way of addressing issues that arose. America, especially Texas, is proud and protective of citizen’s rights to do what they wish on their own property. But, with the rapid growth in the Hill Country, it became apparent that some controls were needed for the good of the whole body of citizens. Health issues with sewage and conditions that attracted rodents, snakes, etc., safety issues with buildings needed to be addressed. The preservation of the “quality of life” that kept longtime citizens in Blanco and drew more and more to move here each year needed to be protected. Thus the Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP) was born which, two years later (2006), gave birth to the Unified Development Code.
The Comprehensive Master Plan is a living document. By itself it “is nothing more than a collection of words. However, it represents an important step in Blanco becoming the community its residents desire. The key to this plan is that it is based on a foundation of public involvement. It was not created by outsiders working in a vacuum; rather it utilizes the concerns of Blanco residents to identify what they feel is most critical to Blanco's prosperity…. It draws on the resources of the entire community rather than relying on just city government, which means all residents have the opportunity and responsibility to participate in creating Blanco's future. If the citizens come together behind this plan, that they in fact created, and work together, there is nothing they cannot achieve. If the plan had been left to gather dust, Blanco would not realize the aspirations of its residents.” (Comprehensive Master Plan – Executive Summary). Visionaries in Preservation (VIP), Downtown Revitalization, Historic Preservation, Chamber of Commerce, City Council and every Blanconian all play a role in the nurturing of the plan. The Comprehensive Master Plan needs to mature through review to be kept contemporary with present needs and should be updated every three to five years.
One of the major outcomes of the Blanco citizens’ proactive interest in their town’s development was the birth of the UDC in 2006. “The purpose of the Unified Development Code (UDC or Code) is to promote the public health, safety, general welfare and quality of life of the present and future citizens of the City of Blanco.” (UDC 1.1) It is the “law” by which the City enforces code violations, restricts activities to appropriate zones. It deals with issues such as signage, lighting, abandoned property, setbacks, and parking among other issues. The UDC exercises the People’s right to live in a city they love.
The Blanco Historic Preservation Commission requested at the first CMP meeting in 2004 that Blanco apply for the Visionaries In Preservation Program with the Texas Historic Commission. The VIP program was only awarded to 3 cities or towns a year. The commission and citizens worked from May 2004 until February 2007 to strengthen the Blanco Historic Plan, to update the Blanco Historic Preservation Ordinance and to become a Certified Local Government with the National Registry of Historic Places. We were approved for this program in February 2007 and received the Blanco Historic Preservation Action Plan in September 2007. The VIP programs that have been completed or are in the process of being completed are “The Blanco Historic Survey and Inventory,” The Blanco Historic Design Guidelines, the work on the Night Sky Ordinance, Update and strengthen the Blanco Historic Preservation Ordinance, the updated Blanco Signage Ordinance, and we are in the process of developing the Blanco Streetscape Plan and the application that the Blanco State Park become the 2nd National Register Historic District.
We are also working on the Safe Routes to School program for Blanco.
Marcus Watson, Texas State Certified Local Government Coordinator will be at the August 26, 2013 meeting at 6 p.m for CLG training at Blanco Historic Preservation Commission meeting. It will be at the Byars Building. Training will be on Cities who are Certified Local Governments, of which Blanco is one.
All Planning and Zoning Commissioners, City officials, and citizens are encouraged to come, as Blanco Is a Certified Local Government.
These documents are all available on the web at http://www.cityofblanco.com and at Blancoguide.com