At their May 11 meeting, members of city council canvassed votes from the May 8, 2010, election and made it official that the new mayor of Blanco will be Chuck Homan. Rebecca Howerton, Martin Sauceda, and Al Turner received majority votes for three city council seats and will assume their duties at the June 8 meeting.
In the Public Comments portion of the meeting, resident Thaddeus Millard asked when the new police station would be ready. He was told that all that remains to be installed are computer and phone lines, and the building is already partially occupied. In his report, Police Chief Milton Willmann called the building “livable” and “operational” and praised its construction. Mayor Pro Tem Bobby McClung said an open house would be planned for June.
A request for a variance for a fence at the corner of 10th and Elm Streets was tabled by council until council members could look at the area and compare Mr. Mancha’s proposed fence with others in the neighborhood. Planning and Zoning chair Martha Herden explained that a discrepancy exists between a 2001 ordinance requiring that fences be 20 feet from the property line and a UDC requirement of 25 feet. Bobby McClung clarified that the UDC supersedes all earlier ordinances. Public Works director Nathan Cantrell warned that granting this variance could lead to other requests and that maintaining a clear sight line for safety is an issue, especially close to the schools. Bobby McClung said, “I don’t think we should start changing the character of the neighborhood. If it is commensurate with other fences, I don’t see a problem.”
Martha Herden reported that P&Z has completed the new signage ordinance and will bring it to council before the required public hearings are held. She said that signs would be larger than previously specified, but buildings such as the Luxury Suites Hotel require a larger sign. “The main concern,” she said, “is that we do not have extremely large signs in the area of the square.” Other issues, which P&Z will be addressing in the next few months, include adding the Highway 281 corridor to the UDC, drafting a modular housing ordinance, and studying the impact of wind turbines on the community and how to regulate them.
Chamber of Commerce director Penny Thomas reported that the chamber has spent $16K of designated hotel-motel tax money—55 percent for advertising, and 45 percent for chamber expenses. She announced that the chamber will be part of the Texas Hill Country Travel Co-op website in order to get more web presence for the city. She also announced that chamber members met with city council and the police department to coordinate parking and police presence for the Lavender Festival in June. There will be designated parking to minimize the impact on local businesses, with 4th Street designated for customers coming to stores on the square. Third Street will be used for handicapped and motorcycle parking, and there will be a wrecker available to tow cars in violation of the posted signs. Council voted to approve closing Pecan Street from 4th to 2nd Streets and 3rd Street from Highway 281 to Bindseil Park beginning June 10, 2010, at 5 p.m. through June 13, 2010, for the Lavender Festival. “We support the Lavender Festival; it’s a good thing for the city,” responded McClung. “We want it to go off smoothly and safely.”
Chief Willmann praised the chamber for their efforts, saying, “It’s good to see people working together,” and said that the Lavender Festival “should go well. It’s a good plan—safe for pedestrians.” He reported that several crimes have been solved through “a good bit of detective work,” but that criminal offenses are up a little, as are speeding tickets on 281 north of town. A number of verbal warnings have been issued, and he said that people are learning. He explained that police presence during the filming of part of “True Grit” at the Old Blanco County Courthouse went well, and that traffic had to be stopped at certain points to eliminate traffic noise. He also announced that there is an opening in the police department, which will be advertised soon.
Council also approved unanimously 13 ordinances annexing properties into the city of Blanco. Two public hearings were held in April to give citizens opportunity for input. A newly-drafted ordinance for dangerous structures was also reviewed, with Rebecca Howerton asserting, “It’s excellent—we’ve waited ten years for this.” City attorney Ed Rogers added, “It protects the landowner—it’s very well written.” He added that it establishes a procedure for protecting citizens from dilapidated buildings that vagrants can go in. After a few changes discussed by council, the ordinance will be voted on.