Downtown Revitalization and Historic Preservation were two of the topics covered in the 2005 Blanco Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP). These two topics went hand in hand for implementation of the CMP goals since downtown Blanco is the National Registry Historic District.
The district covers the courthouse and parts of the eight blocks surrounding it. During the development of the CMP public input showed that residents were concerned with downtown, and wanted to make improvements to the area. Their desire was to create a thriving downtown that would attract residents and visitors with a variety of activities.
The Downtown Revitalization recommendations to increase the mix of downtown businesses, improve the appearance of downtown, provide assistance for building owners to maintain and improve their buildings, and hold regular events downtown are four of the seven recommendations that have moved forward with enthusiasm. We can look around and see our business owners, old and new busy improving the appearance of the Historic District and we thank them all for their vision and hard work. The three that still need to be addressed are: Develop a Downtown Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, Create a unified parking and sidewalk plan for downtown, and Provide public restrooms.
Historic Preservation is about economic development, building on local assets to improve the overall economy of the community. It is not an attempt by the government to control private property. The projects that were identified in the CMP were intended to protect the history and heritage of Blanco through preservation of historic buildings and sites throughout the community and utilize Blanco’s heritage to develop tourism and related business in the community.
The Historic Preservation recommendations were to Develop an inventory of all historic buildings and sites in and around Blanco, Expand the preservation ordinance and become a Certified Local Government, Develop design guidelines for new construction and renovation for the entire community of Blanco and Prioritize properties in need of protection and develop a program to do so. These projects were to ensure that historic assets in Blanco would not be lost.
Because of the dedication and hard work of the BHPC commissioners, advisor/historians and volunteers and the participation of the citizens of Blanco all of the recommendations have either been completed or are in the process.
Goals that we have discussed in news articles were the Designation of Local Landmarks and National Registry Districts . Equally important are the Tour and Assessment of the Historic District and Incentives for Preservation.
At the time the Blanco Historic District was established there were 46 buildings located within the district. Twenty Five of the buildings were a contributing part of the district. Contributing properties in the district dated to 1941 or before and retained architectural integrity.
The protection of the historic properties is the responsibility of the Blanco Historic Preservation Commission. An approved Certificate of Appropriateness for alteration or new construction affecting landmarks or Historic Districts is required for any work, other than ordinary maintenance, on historical landmarks or property in the historical district.
When a building or signage permit is applied for structures in the district the Blanco City Clerk or Building Inspector will give the property owner a COA application. This COA then will be given to the Blanco Historic Commission. The Commission is a review board that will review the application and plans and make the decision for approval, disapproval or approval with modifications.
We will have more information for you about our Tour and Assessment and Incentive programs in our next article.