Blanco’s Planning and Zoning Commission held a Public Meeting on Monday, February 2, at 6:30pm in the Byars building, in which they encouraged Public Comment from citizens.
Before they invited guests to speak, a few items were voted on by the Commission. Matt Lewis was voted in as Secretary, and Martha Gosnell volunteered, and was approved, to serve as Vice Chair of the Commission.
As part of the Public Comments, County Surveyor Amil Baker presented the commission with map of the City of Blanco which showed the newly annexed properties. He invited everyone at the meeting to take a look at the color coded map, which many did. Mr. Baker also commented that those interested in seeing the map would be able to see it at the City offices later this week. Wayne Gosnell asked Mr. Baker if it was true that the City could only annex 10% of it’s land area per year, Mr. Baker replied that the question would need to be answered by the City Attorney. Martha Gosnell asked how the annexed properties would be zoned, and who would make the decision. The answer was not made clear at the meeting and required further review.
Retta Martin stated her opinion that the need to update the Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP) should be top priority for the City and Planning and Zoning Commission. “There is so much growth going on, zoning and rezoning, I think we need to revisit [the Land Use portion of the CMP] to be sure that we’re not getting things right in the middle of what was going to be residential later… getting all hodge-podge again… that’s what we were trying to prevent.” She also asked the Commission whether they were getting requests for variances on signs. The Commission replied that no, they had not received any requests lately, but the citizen’s could file reports if they suspected an infraction was needed. Martin countered that the responsibility should lie with the building inspector, with which the Commission agreed.
Andree Barnes spoke after Martin, stating she agreed that “we need to enforce the beautification of the city. When I drive in and out of town everyday, looking at the entrances to our city I wonder why does it look like this, and what can we do about it?”
Wayne Gosnell reiterated the need of a “formal review” of the CMP. He also expressed a need for the City Council to create a ruling requiring a “super majority” to overrule a ruling of the P&Z Commission. “In the past P&Z has listened to many variances, they do a lot of research, they have hearings, and make a ruling. If that ruling goes against the applicant, it goes to the City Council, and nine times out of ten Council will overrule P&Z by voting three to two. I would suggest it should take a vote of four members of the City Council to overrule.” Mr. Gosnell’s hope was that someone with a variance would then have to create a more solid case in order to get it approved. Other items that he felt were priorities were; issues with the light pollution within city limits, the need for public restrooms on the square, and the need for a city skateboard park and disc golf course.
Keith McClellan asked the Commission whether there had been “any more discussion about the possible bypass of the city? Will there be?” The comment was made by the Commission that it was more of a “[Blanco] County, TxDot decision.” It was also said by the Commission, that the prospect of a bypass contributed to the decision of properties to be annexed, so that if the bypass does occur, the City would be able to control some of the decisions. Jan Brieger spoke her opinion that a bypass would “kill downtown. It has [done that] to many other small towns. A lot of us have everything… invested in this little town.” That concern was shared by several in the room. Though some in the room expressed doubt that a bypass would happen at all, another cautioned that “somebody mentions something, no one thinks it’s important, and the next thing you know they’re breaking ground.” The general thought in the room was that the City, Planning and Zoning, and citizens needed to keep up with any progress on the possibility, so that a bypass wouldn’t “sneak up” on Blanco.