A public hearing was held on December 9 prior to the regularly-scheduled city council meeting to hear comments on the proposed re-zoning of library-owned property at 303 12th Street. Candy Cargill, the treasurer of Blanco Library, Inc., requested the council change the zoning from residential to mixed use, based on the number of commercial properties nearby. She hypothesized that the original zoning was in error, since a restaurant operated in the building which currently houses the library. Ron Houston concurred. Nell Krueger, chair of the Blanco Library expansion fund-raising committee, said that selling the property would make the library debt-free going into the fundraising portion of the expansion.
Jud Prince, chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, explained that at the first public hearing on the library property, held November 18 at a P&Z meeting, two of the ten property owners who had received notice of the proposed re-zoning voiced opposition, citing a fear of a drop in property values and the type of development which might occur. Consequently, P&Z voted 3-1 not to recommend rezoning. After some discussion, council voted unanimously to approve the re-zoning. Council also voted to appoint Martha Herden to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Herden expressed her eagerness to serve on the commission by praising the work done by P&Z and by her love of Blanco. “I will not be a troublemaker—I will be a helper,” she said.
A request by Bharat Patel to request a reduction of the building permit fees for a hotel he is building on Highway 281 North was tabled pending the choice of a building inspector.
Sealed bids for the first phase of the police department facility on Blanco Avenue were received by council and read by the mayor. T. West Construction, Sundown Construction, R. W. Burdett, Inc. of Johnson City, and Julian Olinick Construction of Blanco, submitted bids. No action was taken pending further examination of the bids, which varied based on the amount of work to be done. In continuing discussion of turning over the streets of Calico Meadows to the city, the mayor asked Public Works Director Nathan Cantrell to inspect them prior to the changeover.
Blanco Chamber of Commerce director Julie Dill called the chamber-sponsored Blanco Lavender Lights “a huge success” with vendors “thrilled” by the number of customers. Local merchants reported sales two to four times greater than last year for the same time period. She commended the Blanco police for their presence, which led some people to stop to see if there had been an accident and then stay to shop. She also commended the volunteers of Keep Blanco Beautiful for their light and nativity displays in Bindseil Park and the pecan bottom.
The chamber’s plans for next year include educating the community about what economic development means, improving the chamber website to make it easier to navigate, developing a brochure with reasons to visit Blanco, and increasing exposure in the media. Dill reported that the Economic Development Committee met recently, discussing issues such as the availability of high-speed internet access as a way for small businesses to operate out of Blanco. The issues of housing and education were also discussed.
Mayor Rodrigue reported that the continuing discussion about giving the chamber money from the hotel/motel taxes for 2006-07 has been resolved. He expressed a desire to “get it cleared up and move forward.” Council voted unanimously to give the chamber $5000 from the reserve fund for the purpose of promoting Blanco. Council also approved a resolution making Blanco a “certified community” to receive grants from the Texas Department of Agriculture, including the Go Texan program, Bootstrap Bucks, and the Hometown Stars program.
Blanco State Park superintendent Michael Young reported several projects undertaken by park staff in the “non-peak” season, including aerating park grounds, planting 40 pounds of wildflower seeds to create wildflower meadows, and an extensive tree-trimming project which was contracted out. The river will also be stocked with trout December 11 and 30 and January 15 and 29. Young announced that a short promotional video about the park will be aired on PBS stations the week of February 1-8 and probably on the internet earlier than that. He also informed council that a board of directors has been elected for the Friends of the Blanco State Park, and that interested parties should come to the park office to join. Members will receive e-mails about upcoming meetings. As well, a committee is being formed to plan the 75th anniversary of the park’s founding.
Retta Martin reported for Keep Blanco Beautiful that the lights are up in the park and the pecan bottom but that there have been problems with the lights, which were obtained free from Marble Falls after being used there. She also complained of vandalism to the lights as well as the theft of a lighted deer, asking that it be returned. Ron Houston suggested that the Citizens on Patrol organization might be willing to patrol the park area.
Linda Howard of the Blanco Historical Commission reported that her organization has set goals for 2009, including enforcing the UDC, educating citizens and council about historic preservation, and communicating with organizations such as the Texas Historical Commission. A Certificate of Appropriateness has been given to the Henry Reece Building. There will be articles in the local paper on topics of historic preservation. The commission plans to make a movie about old Blanco from CD’s owned by George Byars. Member Becky Greathouse has offered to put it into a Powerpoint format. Howard also reported that the “document harvest” sponsored by the Friends of the Blanco Library went well.
Assistant police chief Carl Bragg reported 102 citations issued in November and 71 call sheets.
The mayor read a resolution proclaiming May 2009 Bicycle Safety Month as part of the Safe Routes to School program. He also read a proclamation for the Tree of Angels Day December 13. A Tree of Angels ceremony will be held by the Hill Country Survivors of Violent Crimes organization to honor victims of violent crimes. This is the eleventh year for the ceremony.