At the April 14 meeting of the governing body of Blanco, a public hearing was held to hear public comments on the rezoning of property located at Pecan and 13th Street to MX, mixed use development. There was no one present to make comments. The property, owned by the Blanco Library, is for sale. The first public hearing on the proposed re-zoning was held March 17, according to Planning and Zoning Commission chair Jud Prince. The re-zoning was approved by council members.
Auditor Keith Neffendorf presented the annual audit of the city for fiscal year 2007-08, stating that the city “is still in good financial shape.” As of September 30, according to his report, “the assets of the city exceeded its liabilities by $8,481,686. Of this amount, $4,021,099 (unrestricted net assets) may be used to meet the city’s ongoing obligations to citizens and creditors. Further, the city’s net assets increased by $667,230 as a result of this year’s operations. At September 30, 2008, the city’s governmental funds reported combined ending fund balances of $2,486,959, an increase of $156,929 in comparison with the prior year. At September 30, 2008, the city’s Water and Sewer Fund reported net assets of $4,712, 805, an increase of $291,533 in comparison with the prior year.” Neffendorf reported that his firm found “no areas of weakness” and thanked city secretary Bobbie Mowery and other city staff for their cooperation in compiling necessary data for the audit.
Pedernales Electric Co-op Western District coordinator Jerry Wisian reported that PEC has just completed the Light the Way Program, donating $1K to each of a number of local organizations, including the Blanco Library, Blanco Senior Citizens Center, Blanco Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and Blanco Volunteer Fire Department for their service to the Blanco community. Wisian also reported that PEC is studying rates and line extension policies, and that, in his words, “The average bill will come down a little bit.” Member feedback will be accepted for review by the PEC Board of Directors until May 1, either by mail or e-mail. The annual board meeting will be held June 20 at 2 p.m. in Johnson City at the PEC Training Center. More information is available at the PEC web site (http://www.pec.coop).
Council members approved an ordinance allowing TxDOT changes in speed limits on Highway 281, based on an Engineering and Traffic investigation. Signs will be erected giving notice of the new maximum speed limits on those portions of Highway 281 routed in the city of Blanco. Violators will be guilty of a misdemeanor and may be assessed a fine of up to $200. The ordinance goes into effect immediately. A copy of the proposed speed zone strip map is available at city hall. TxDOT changes include a light at Blanco Avenue, which will first be a blinking light, then become a regular traffic signal by fall.
Fire Marshall Mark McMain reported that a fire hydrant has been added to the plans for the new Best Western Hotel on Highway 281 North, and that a fire at CJ’s was caused by a fan that “froze up”. He said that numerous code violations have been found and that the new owner is working on correcting them. He added that he has seen plans for the new Sonic Drive-In south of town, and that fire lanes will be painted.
Chamber of Commerce director Julie Dill requested the closure of Pecan Street from 4th to 2nd Streets, and 3rd Street to Pecan for the Lavender Festival June 11-14. Since the festival has been expanded to Friday , the tent will be set up on Pecan Street on Thursday. Council approved the request as well as the chamber request to use the Lavender Capital of Texas trademark for promotional materials for the Lavender Festival. Patent attorney David Hall has prepared a document for Dill to sign. Local businesses will display purple flags with the trademark during the festival.
Council member Rebecca Howerton reported for Keep Blanco Beautiful that 63 volunteers worked cleaning city easements, parks, and the town creek during the recent Trash-Off Day. Ten volunteers with 5 trailers picked up curbside trash, and 17 city volunteers collected thirteen 30-yard dumpsters of trash, and six 30-yard dumpsters of metals. Over 100 vehicles and trailers brought loads of trash to the city yard for disposal. Eight volunteers set up and served all the volunteers lunch, and 26 volunteers helped Pam Capps with the river clean-up. Howerton thanked Nathan Cantrell and the city employees who gave their time on a Saturday to help at the city yard. She also reported that Keep Blanco Beautiful has expanded its efforts to the Historic Blanco Cemetery, planting ivy and lantanas in pots at the city entrance. The mayor thanked everyone who made the Trash-Off such a success. Howerton commented on how much she appreciates Charles Critchley, who walks the streets of Blanco picking up trash.
Council voted to appoint Linda Howard, chair of the Blanco Historical Commission, as the Certified Local Government representative. Howard showed council members a form the commission has developed to determine if a local building merits historic landmark status. She explained that the form uses standards set by the National Park Service, and that it is “a first” for Blanco to have a Landmark Program. Individuals seeking landmark status for their buildings will be charged a $25 fee for processing the applications. The commission is working on certificates for landmarks. Howard reported that 196 structures in Blanco are over 50 years old, one of the criteria for becoming a landmark. Howard also reported that Danny Fox has replaced Bernice West as an advisor to the commission, since an archeologist was needed. Fox is also advising the commission on their streetscaping project. The Visionaries in Preservation task force has been incorporated into the Blanco Historical Commission. Mayor Rodrigue responded to her report by saying, “We thank you—you do a wonderful job.”
Police chief Ed Sonier reported 59 speeders and 115 citations for the month of March, along with 92 call sheets. Sergeant Robert Armstrong reported that the COPS grant proposal has been submitted. If chosen, Blanco would receive $322K over a three-year period to hire three entry-level police officers. The department is looking for additional grants to equip the officers with uniforms, vehicles, etc. Assistant Chief Carl Bragg explained that the department is looking for grants which do not require the city to match funds. If the city receives the grant, it would be responsible for keeping the officers on for an additional year after the grant runs out.
In other business, council tabled a request by Blanco Settlement owner Charlene Pace to receive a water bill adjustment, until past bills could be studied. A Weed and Trash Ordinance was also tabled pending further study, and a project to re-pave Pecan Street at the corner of Fourth Street, adding curbs and gutters, was discussed. Public works director Nathan Cantrell reported that the city has received a bid of $2500 for re-striping parking lines on the square. He was asked by the mayor to also get a bid for seal-coating the pavement.