At the May 12 meeting of the governing body of the city of Blanco, votes from the recent mayoral and city council election were canvassed. Eighty-four residents of the city of Blanco cast votes as follows: for mayor, Tina Gourley received 55 votes; council candidate Pamela Capps received 40 votes, Bobby McClung, 63, and Danny Ray, 46. The newly elected council members will be sworn in at a special meeting May 19.
Retiring mayor Jim Rodrigue thanked the council and city for the opportunity to serve for the past six years. He cited his part in projects such as bringing water to Blanco. He also expressed appreciation for the way council has conducted business “in a civil manner.” Mayor pro tempore Ron Houston expressed his thanks to the mayor for his service.
Code Enforcement Officer Pete McKinney was present to offer clarification of the points of a Weed and Trash Ordinance being considered by council. A proposed maximum height of 12 inches for vegetation caused Ron Houston to question whether wildflowers must be cut before they have the chance to seed out. Doug Pautz commented that most of the residents of Blanco currently have high grass along fence lines unless they have used a weed-eater in the last week. He also asked whether the ordinance could be “reactive” in that a complaint must be filed before a notice is given the property owner. As the ordinance is written, a person on whom a complaint is issued has ten days to comply for a health hazard and 30 days on unsightly conditions.
Rebecca Howerton, whose work to keep Blanco clean and well-manicured is tireless, said, “If we don’t take the time to enforce this ordinance, we’ll be in a situation where we can’t clean up the city.” Tina Gourley described a particularly overgrown area near Blanco Elementary School, citing the danger of fire that could spread to the school grounds. Howerton recounted a story from someone familiar with the property that a large rattlesnake has been sighted there. Gourley concluded, “I think we’re setting a bad precedent if we don’t take action” to pass the ordinance. Danny Ray expressed mixed feelings, saying, “We live in a rural area” but that he favors an ordinance “up to a point.” He used the example of Bindseil Park, saying, “Some people want it to look like a golf course, and some people want it to look like a forest.”
Other questions on the ordinance included the question of whether burning brush in the city limits is allowed, and, according to McKinney, it is not, unless it is a small recreational fire such as a campfire in a fire circle. Howerton added that brush can be cut into small bundles and picked up by IESI. Bobby McClung, speaking as a resident, cited the need to burn branches and debris on his property, but Howerton countered that people with allergies can be bothered by smoke from fires blowing into their yards. The decision was made to allow only “vegetative burning,” with no burning of non-vegetative trash, and the ordinance was passed, with one dissenting vote by Doug Pautz.
No action was taken on a request by resident Trisha Campbell for a four-way stop at Ninth and Cherry Streets. Campbell cited danger to school children from drivers being “unmindful,” talking on cell phones, and exceeding the speed limit. Assistant chief Carl Bragg said that officers have been monitoring the intersection and have not seen incidents of speeding. He said that maintaining the traffic flow is part of traffic control, and that it is hard for school buses to keep stopping as they are leaving the school grounds. However, he told Campbell, “You are to be commended for your concern,” and promised that officers would continue to monitor the intersection.
Planning and Zoning Commission chair Jud Prince reported that P&Z met on April 21 and that Martha Herden was elected as new secretary. The commission has finished the final draft of a new signage ordinance as part of the UDC. P&Z also heard a request by Jerry Morgan to allow granite gravel as it exists instead of asphalt or concrete for a car lot he plans to open soon. Because his request is in the spirit of using less impervious cover to lessen the possibility of flooding onto streets, P&Z recommended granting it, and council concurred and voted to grant the variance.
Chamber of Commerce director Julie Dill reported on progress in preparation for the Blanco Lavender Festival June 12-14. There will be reserved short-term parking spaces in front of Strickland Drugs and Cuts n’ Curls, as well as preserving access to the police department, although all other parking on Pecan Street from the square to 3rd Street will be prohibited. A Lavender Festival flag was presented to the city, and merchants will be displaying them as well. Volunteer training for the festival will be held June 2 at the courthouse from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Other upcoming events in Blanco include the 21st Annual Car Show, which was to be held May 16, a Brieger Kiln Opening May 16-17 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the Real Ale Ride Saturday, May 30. Volunteers are still needed to man rest stops along the route. Call Real Ale Brewery for more information. A portion of the proceeds from the ride will benefit the Blanco Library.
Assistant chief Carl Bragg requested that the city approve a grant application to pay for new technology in patrol cars, including the capability to write tickets electronically. The grant, which would require $600 in funds from the city, would pay for an $8K electronics package on each patrol car. Council voted to approve the grant application. Council also voted to approve adoption of an Identity Theft Prevention Program. One of the provisions of the program, which is required under the Federal Trade Commission’s Red Flag’s Rule, and implements Section 114 of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, requires anyone opening a new utility account to provide identifying information, including a driver’s license or other identification, as well as personal and business information.
In other business, council denied Charlene Pace’s request for an adjustment to her water bill for last January at the Blanco Settlement. However, an amendment to the motion made by Doug Pautz removed the late fee. Tina Gourley also discussed plans to sponsor a contest to design a new logo for the city. Gourley informed council that she has discussed the process with Blanco National Bank’s Dixie Hall, who recently sponsored a similar contest. Council voted to have Gourley investigate the process and to set aside $500 as a prize to the winner of the contest. Local artists as well as high school students will be eligible to participate.