City of Kerrville responds to concerns about sign ordinance

Following the first reading of the newly proposed revisions to the Sign Ordinance, Kerrville United posted an article discussing some of the changes and reporting about the outcome of that first vote, which passed 4-1 on September 10 at the City Council meeting. As reported, council would need to vote again on the second reading for that ordinance to become law.

In the Facebook comments section of the article we posted, Mr. Cory Traub posted a number of questions and concerns that he has about the proposed new ordinance. Mr. Traub is the owner of Pro-Tech Signs & Graphixx, a company that installs signage in Kerrville. Mr. Traub’s comments are shown below.

We forwarded these comments to the City of Kerrville and asked if they’d please respond to Mr. Traub’s concerns so that we can provide answers to our readers. The City provided that response today via Facebook, and their answers have been posted below, with only the formatting being changed to make the responses more easily seen by our readership across the various platforms where they may access our content. Please see the City’s responses below.

City of Kerrville Responds to Cory Traub

CITY OF KERRVILLE: Kerrville United, thank you for the opportunity to respond to Mr. Traub’s concerns. We sincerely appreciate your reporting on the city and your efforts to cover all sides of an issue. Attached below are our responses to Mr. Traub’s observations, with Mr. Traub’s initial posts designated by bullet points:

CORY TRAUB: Wall signs can now only be internally lit if the sign is made of individual letters. This means you can no longer have a regular lighted sign with your logo on it and back light it. Wall signs must be channel letters now, not cabinets. This makes dozens of signs currently in Kerrville non-conforming, some of which are brand new.

CITY OF KERRVILLE: This was in the proposed draft that was reviewed and approved by Council on the first reading 9/10/2019. Based upon discussions with several individuals, staff will be recommending an amendment on second reading to this section, thereby allowing all types of wall signs to be internally illuminated unless otherwise restricted.

CORY TRUAB: Pole signs that are sitting on two poles instead of a single pole must be masonry. So, if your sign sits on two poles and does not have some sort of masonry around them your sign will become non-conforming.

CITY OF KERRVILLE: This in incorrect, as this section of the code was updated by the Code Review Committee to clarify the construction of freestanding/pole signs. New or updated signs will be allowed to be constructed on one or more poles, or twin masonry supports. The intent was to clarify the options sign owners have for the support structure, not to require that masonry was required if there is more than one pole.

CORY TRAUB: Banners can be no more than 80sq.ft. and must be mounted on your building or permanent structure. They cannot be mounted on poles out in front unless they are REAL ESTATE banners. Real Estate banners can be mounted on a solid piece of wood on two poles.

CITY OF KERRVILLE: This section has not changed from the previous code.

CORY TRAUB: Any permanent sign erected on school property or any other school campus or public athletic facility may not include any type of commercial message, including the name and/or logo of an establishment who is sponsoring such school’s activities or events. So, basically no more advertising on Antler Stadium’s sign.

CITY OF KERRVILLE: The portion of this section limiting commercial messages on school district signs has been recommended for removal since the 9/10/2019 Council hearing to align with previous court decisions.

• CORY TRAUB: Electronic signs must now hold the message for 8 seconds instead of 4 before changing to a new message.

CITY OF KERRVILLE: This is correct, as amended by Council, unless changed on second reading.

• CORY TRAUB: The City of Kerrville will now have 30 days to approve your sign permit, unlike the 10 days it used to be.

CITY OF KERRVILLE: This section remains unchanged from the existing sign code. The sign code does require an approval or denial of a sign permit within 30 days; however, Development Services policy will continue to maintain a standard for approval or denial of a sign permit within 10 days.

•CORY TRAUB: Finally, the size of electronic signs was 32sqft, the code review committee recommended 32sqft for the smaller signs and up to 64sqft for the larger signs. To put it in perspective 32sqft is the size of a sheet of plywood. The electronic sign at Antler Stadium is 72sqft and the electronic sign at the Chamber of Commerce is almost 80sqft. Planning and Zoning rejected the code review committee’s recommendations to allow the larger electronic signs and brought it back to 32sqft for everyone. Now….the sign at Antler Stadium was permitted and installed in 2012 before the sign ordinance was re-written and there were no size limits for electronic signs, therefore it is grandfathered in. The city cannot make them change the size of that sign but they can change how they must operate it.

CITY OF KERRVILLE: As per section 92-13 Nonconforming signs, all legal signs in existence at the time of adoption may remain in place. Any electronic display, such as Antler Stadium sign, must conform to the updated operational standards (such as length of time for each display, no motion, luminance requirements etc.), but the code does not require the size or location to be adjusted unless the sign is modified.

•CORY TRAUB: The electronic sign at the Chamber of Commerce was “accidentally permitted in error” by the city in 2018 under the ordinance that only allows 32sqft. So, before we adopt a new ordinance that still only allows businesses to have 32sqft of electronic signs shouldn’t we consider what the city is going to do about the sign at the Chamber of Commerce? I personally do not care if the new ordinance allows bigger or smaller signs nor do I want to see Kerrville covered in 80sqft electronic signs like Atlantic City or Las Vegas. My issue is that if one business is allowed 80sqft of Electronic sign than ALL Kerrville businesses should be allowed up to 80sqft of electronic sign. If not than the City must be held accountable for their “mistake” and make it right.

CITY OF KERRVILLE: The City has been very open and transparent about the permitting error regarding the Chamber sign, has taken enforcement measures, and the Chamber is still currently operating the sign at a maximum of 32 square feet. Once a new sign ordinance is adopted, a more permanent solution will be pursued.

Thank you again,
The City of Kerrville

EIC takes action on two new funding applications

At Monday’s regular meeting of Kerrville’s Economic Improvement Corporation (EIC), the board took action to move forward with two new applications for economic development funding, and approved the multi-year funding agreement with Kerr Economic Development Corporation (KEDC). The EIC voted unanimously to move forward with an agreement that would fund two projects at the KERV Municipal Airport, and also voted unanimously to proceed with a “terms sheet” for an affordable housing development.

KEDC Funding Agreement

Last month, the EIC directed staff to amend the proposed funding agreement before them to add a multiyear component to the KEDC contract. EIC provides about 2/3 of KEDC’s $213,500 budget. The KEDC operates as a nonprofit and their mission is to support and expand business entities in Kerr County — new and existing. On Monday, the EIC voted unanimously to approve the revised funding agreement, which changed the terms from one year to three years, but giving the EIC the option of appropriating (or not appropriating) monies in the second and third years of the contract. The board believes that adding a multiyear component signals to the KEDC that the EIC is committed to the long-term success of this organization and their economic development efforts.

The KEDC also presented some of their efforts over the previous month, including some specifics about a business that is considering relocating to Kerrville. This Tier 1 supplier (meaning they supply parts and services to a large manufacturer) is considering relocating to Texas from the midwest, and Kerrville is the only community in the state that they are considering. Gil Salinas of KEDC informed the EIC that this company would soon make a “site visit” to Kerrville to see what our community has to offer by way of employees, infrastructure, and building space for their operations. This particular company would add approximately 60 well-paid jobs that also include good employee benefits.

Another lead is in the pipeline, according to Walt Koenig of the Chamber of Commerce and on behalf of KEDC. This lead, code-named “Oasis,” would also add about 50 or 60 primary jobs in the manufacturing sector and would provide an economic benefit to the entire hill country. This lead is still in the works and KEDC hopes to land both of these exciting opportunities in the coming months.

Airport Projects

Members of the Airport Board presented statistics about the economic impact of the airport on the community as a whole, stating that the airport and the related jobs there have an impact of almost $40 million on the Kerrville and Kerr County area. They requested funding for two separate projects: 1.) Site work for future box hangars; and 2.) Renovation of an existing building to make ready for future tenants.

The EIC voted unanimously to proceed with a funding agreement in the amount of $375,000 for these improvements.

Funding request from KERV Airport.

Workforce Housing Development

The EIC heard a presentation from investors and developers involved in the “Meeker Project,” a potential development which includes up to 35 moderately priced homes near Meeker and Poplar Streets in the eastern half of Kerrville. These homes would be built by local builder Travis Page and would be priced at approximately $159,500 to $203,000 per home, categorized as “workforce housing.”

Contemplated floorplans and elevations for the homes in the Meeker project.

The developers, 2J-PAGE Development, LLC, has requested approximately $701,000 to offset the public infrastructure costs such as roads and utilities. According to the developers and the City of Kerrville staff:

This development could serve as a catalyst and model in providing additional attainable and affordable housing in the community to retain and attract employees for Kerrville’s local employers (both primary and non-primary) to sustain, as well as expand, their local operations. In addition, this development could help in recruitment efforts to attract new employers to the area. Supporting the need for more attainable and affordable housing is identified in specific Action Items in the Kerrville 2050 Comprehensive Plan…

Quote from agenda bill for Item 4C, EIC Agenda for September 16

The EIC heard the presentation and convened discussions in executive session (a closed, non-public portion of the meeting where members discuss ongoing negotiations). Following executive session, the EIC voted unanimously to direct staff to create a “terms sheet,” meaning a list of terms and requirements that must be agreed to before a funding agreement can be contemplated and approved.

References

DISCLOSURE: Your author, Aaron Yates, is a board member of the Kerrville Economic Improvement Corporation. The opinions and statements herein represent the views of Aaron Yates and not necessarily the views or positions of the EIC as a whole, or the City of Kerrville.

Council passes first reading of new sign ordinance

Council passed the first reading of the newly revised sign ordinance in a 4-1 vote on Tuesday night at the regularly scheduled meeting. Kim Clarkson cast the dissenting vote, with Cochrane, Mayor Blackburn, Eychner, and Sigerman in favor of the law that was also approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission on August 15. A second reading must be held and approved before the proposal becomes law.

Council made one amendment to the P&Z version of the law: the “static time” was lengthened from four seconds to eight seconds. The static time refers to the amount of time that a message must “hold” on the screen before transitioning to a new message.

Councilmember Kim Clarkson stated that although she supports re-writing the code, she hoped that approval could be postponed until some of the concerns were worked out.

Changes

Some of the updates to the sign ordinance include:

  • Adding and clarifying definitions of various types of signs including Awning Signs, Canopy Signs, Electronic Displays, and Murals.
  • Adding graphical elements to illustrate the code.
  • Allowing a one-second “fade” on electronic displays
  • Lowering the height requirement for awning, canopy, and projecting signs to 6’8″
  • Simplifies requirements for incidental signs
  • Exempting government flags and signs from the ordinance
  • Exempting traffic control devices
  • Requiring a 6″ frame/border around electronic displays
  • Providing a maximum size of 32 square feet for electronic displays
  • Lengthening the “hold time” or “static time” of electronic displays to eight seconds (added by council)

Process

The process of re-writing the sign ordinance began with the Code Review Committee (CRC) in October 2018. The committee, made up of approximately 15 community members, worked on several ordinances with some of the goals including bringing the laws in line with modern technology, making them easier to understand and enforce, and eliminate any confusion or vagueness. The Code Review Committee held several public meetings as well as an open house to discuss the changes they would propose to the Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z).

The CRC passed their recommendations to the P&Z, which included a provision to allow certain businesses to install an electronic sign up to 64 square feet in surface area — doubling the current maximum. P&Z held a public hearing on August 15. During that meeting, approximately 14 individuals spoke against a proposed size increase, with two supporting an increase. P&Z removed the increased surface area from the proposed ordinance, among other minor changes, and sent the ordinance up the chain to City Council.

Council must vote and approve of two “readings” of a proposed new ordinance for it to become law. Tuesday’s meeting (September 10) was the first reading, and a second reading will be scheduled for an upcoming council meeting. If the proposal is approved on the second reading, it becomes law.

Timeline of events and meetings leading up to the adoption of the Sign Ordinance

References

Video

Here is the full video of Tuesday night’s meeting.

KPD releases name of officer involved in fatal shooting over Labor Day weekend

Kerrville Police Department issued a new press release on Monday, September 9, discussing more details from the September 1 shooting death of 17-year-old Tommy Luke Hranicky. According to the updated release, pictured below, the officer involved in the shooting was Sergeant Hal Degenhardt, a 15-year veteran of the police force.

According to the new release…

When Sergeant Degenhardt arrived and made contact with the suspect, the suspect was found to be armed with a knife. The suspect advanced on the Officer, who retreated and gave repeated verbal commands for the suspect to stop and drop the knife. The suspect continued to advance with the knife toward the officer and refused to comply with the officer’s commands. Sergeant Degenhardt was forced to fire his duty weapon to protect himself.

Press release dated September 9, 2019

The department went on to state that both the officer’s body camera and his dash camera were activated during the incident. In addition to the Texas Rangers’ investigation, KPD is also conducting an internal investigation into the death. The case will be referred to a grand jury once the investigation is complete.

City Council will get final word on sign ordinance overhaul

Tuesday night’s City Council meeting will include a discussion and consideration of the updated sign ordinance that P&Z approved on August 15. Although the Code Review Committee recommended to P&Z that the largest allowable electronic sign should be increased to 64 square feet from 32 square feet for some businesses, P&Z vetoed that amendment after hearing from over a dozen citizens opposed to the increase. This Tuesday, Council will make the final decision about this ordinance.

Council will vote on the first reading of the ordinance. If approved, a second reading will be scheduled for the next council meeting, and if approved a second time, the new rules will be adopted as law. The public will have a chance to speak at both meetings.

A section of the proposed sign ordinance that defines electronic display.

Electronic signs have been the topic of much debate in Kerrville in recent months. Several businesses and organizations had submitted variance requests for larger electronic signs or other types of signage that was not in compliance with the current statutes. The topic was a point of discussion leading up to May’s city council elections. The Code Review Committee, an ad hoc city commission made up of approximately 15 citizens, had worked on changes to the Zoning Code, Sign Ordinance, and other matters, from October 2018 through July 2019, and recommended the increase, among other changes. P&Z held a public hearing and approved new rules, but rejected the electronic signage increase, and now those adopted rules head to council for final approval or denial.

References

Article written by Aaron Yates

UPDATED: Officer-involved shooting reported on Sidney Baker

UPDATE 9/2/19 at 12:30 PM — Kerrville Police Department issued an updated press release via their Facebook page on Monday afternoon. The name of the deceased is Tommy Luke Hranicky, and he was 17 years old. KPD also provided more details on the narrative of events leading up to the shooting:

When the first responding Officer arrived and made contact with the suspect, the suspect was found to be armed with a knife. The suspect advanced on the Officer, who retreated and gave repeated verbal commands for the suspect to stop and drop the knife. The suspect continued to come at the officer, who was forced to fire his duty weapon to protect himself.

KPD Press Release dated September 2

An autopsy will be conducted by the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office. The officer’s name has been withheld pending an investigation.

SEPT. 1 — On Sunday afternoon, police responded to the 900 block of Sidney Baker Street following reports of a man with a knife. The officer made contact with the subject, and, according to a police statement, the officer feared for his life, drew his weapon, and shot the suspect. The Justice of the Peace pronounced the suspect deceased.

The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Department of Public Safety, Texas Rangers, and Kerrville Police Department.

This is a developing story and more information will be added when it becomes available.

Approximate location of officer-involved shooting on September 1.
Press release issued by the Kerrville Police Department on September 1.
Updated press release on September 2

References:

Council approves new zoning law

With a unanimous vote at Tuesday night’s meeting, the Kerrville City Council adopted a brand new Zoning Code that includes some extensive changes to both the rules and the map. This adoption is the culmination of a year-long process of re-working the code by the Code Review Committee, the Planning & Zoning Commission, with input from the City Council, too.

Because of the multitude of changes in the new code, council admits that there will be issues that need to be addresses on a case-by-case basis, especially when it comes to nonconforming uses (when a property is being used for something that is not allowed in the new code). Council pointed out a six-month window during which property owners can bring up their objections with Drew Paxton, Executive Director of Development Services, and staff can begin to address those concerns.

Why is a zoning code important? A city’s zones establish where certain types of buildings, businesses, residences, factories, merchants, and service centers can operate, as well as how the buildings should look, what kind of parking they need to provide, and how the land use will fit within the larger surrounding neighborhoods and community as a whole. Zoning is one of the most important functions of a city’s planning department, which hopes to encourage responsible growth while protecting the quality of life for its current inhabitants. Cities are authorized to regulate zoning via Section 211 of the Texas Local Government Code.

A portion of the new zoning map. The entire map is available to view here: https://legistarweb-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/attachment/pdf/411739/20190813_Map_Future-Zoning.pdf

Notable Changes

  • Reduction in the number of zones from 49 to just 17
  • Cleaning up and re-writing rules for clarity and user-friendliness
  • Expansion of residential districts
  • Changes to the Downtown Arts and Cultural District (DAC)
  • Changes to land use table
  • Changes to zoning map

Opposition

Several landowners spoke against the ordinance, stating their objections with regards to specific properties that they own, including former mayor Bonnie White. Council members answered these concerns by admitting that there might be issues that need to be addressed, but that it was important to move ahead with the new code to solve a multitude of other problems with the previous zoning ordinance, all the while providing a forum for property owners to air their grievances and discuss their problems with city staff.

Process

The process of creating the new Zoning Code has taken place over the past year, with numerous opportunities for citizens to attend open houses, public meetings, and workshops with the Code Review Committee (CRC), the P&Z Commission, and Council. The CRC met nine times in public meetings; the P&Z joined Council for a workshop in March; and a community open house was held in May. P&Z held a public hearing on August 13 and received public comments.

During all of these meetings and during this review period, the public was encouraged to provide feedback, comments, and suggestions. The city’s consultant also interviewed multiple stakeholders, business owners, landowners, and members of the general public. It is the opinion of this author that ample time and opportunity was given for public input, and we salute the city for their transparency during this process.

Next Steps

This was the second and final reading of this ordinance, so it is adopted as law. As noted, staff will work with individual property owners to address their concerns moving forward. And as always, P&Z and Council can grant variances and/or make changes to the code as needed in the future.

References

Video

Regular meeting held on August 27

Written by Aaron Yates

Council revives the Kerrville Main Street Program

Following a period of hiatus from the Texas Main Street program, the Kerrville City Council has resolved to restart the board and programs that aim to further the goals of the Kerrville 2050 plan with respect to the downtown area. Kerrville initially became involved with the Main Street program in the mid-1990s but took a one-year leave of absence beginning in summer 2018 “to acquaint the new leadership with the City processes and to hire new staff to take on the task of downtown revitalization.” Council voted unanimously on August 13 to reconstitute the program and appoint new Main Street Advisory board members to serve.

According to councilperson Kim Clarkson, “From my perspective… through the 2050 plan, neighborhood development and place-making, as well as focusing on the downtown revitalization would be a reason for recreation of a board like the Main Street Board. It’s re-focusing, and that’s what our citizens said they wanted to look at as an area of focus.” (Ref.: City Council Meeting, August 13, 2019.)

The seven-member board (MSAB) will be made up of property owners and business owners within the Downtown Arts & Cultural District (see map below). The city is currently accepting applications for membership on the board, which will require a two-year term of service, except for three members, chosen by chance, to serve a one-year initial term, so that the terms are staggered. To apply for membership on this board, please visit the city’s Main Street page.

The MSAB “serves in an advisory capacity to the Mayor and City Council and assists other City Boards and Commissions and City Staff to further goals and objectives of the City, including goals and objectives of the Kerrville 2050 Comprehensive Plan and other long-range plans adopted by the City; provides for the achievement of the Texas Main Street Program goals and criteria for the preservation and revitalization of the historic downtown in order to provide the necessary image for the downtown area and serves as a unifying factor to encourage area merchants and building owners to reinvest in downtown; creates positive change for downtown to ensure the success of the Main Street Program by identifying and mobilizing resources, building volunteer support, developing new leadership, and maintaining clear focus on the needs and opportunities for the downtown area.”

The Main Street program hosted the Mardi Gras on Main fundraiser from 2005 through 2016, raising funds for public arts projects such as the James Avery Mother’s Love sculpture at Main and Earl Garrett, and Lupe the Bass in Louise Hayes Park. The program also provided a voice for downtown business owners and stakeholders to participate in the overall direction and programs aimed at developing and supporting the historic downtown area. The board advised council on various matters pertaining to downtown, such as parking rules, signage, facades, walkability, and other important matters.

However, turnover in city staff leadership of the program along with other concerns, led to a temporary hiatus from the Main Street program. Council’s action this month will allow the city to remain in good standing within the state-sponsored program that aims to help communities preserve, develop, maintain, and promote their historic downtown districts.

References

P&Z rejects proposal to increase size of electronic signs

During the regularly scheduled meeting of Kerrville’s Planning & Zoning Commission on Thursday afternoon, commissioners voted unanimously to maintain the current maximum size of electronic signage at 32 square feet, and also voted to adopt new language to clarify rules for other sign types in Kerrville and the extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ). The proposed changes presented by the Code Review Committee suggested enlarging the maximum allowed electronic signage to 64 square feet for businesses with certain road frontage. However, the commissioners voted unanimously to maintain the current 32 square foot maximum after hearing from over a dozen community members that spoke out against the proposed enlargement.

Approximately 16 citizens, businesspersons, and community representatives addressed the commission with their thoughts on electronic signage in general and the proposed rule changes specifically. All but two persons spoke against enlarging the allowed size of electronic signs. Two individuals spoke in support of the proposed rule changes to allow the larger signs — Walt Koenig of the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce and Cory Traub of Pro Tech Signs & Graphixx.

After listening to the public comments, commissioners proposed several changes to the proposed ordinance that will now be submitted to the City Council for consideration and discussion. Changes included maintaining the maximum electronic signage at 32 square feet, maintaining the current duration of electronic messages at four seconds, and also some other minor changes to language regarding awning signs. The council will oversee a three-step process including a public hearing and two readings of the proposed changes to the ordinance. Community members will have a chance to speak again when council considers the ordinance presented to them by the P&Z.

Electronic signs have been the topic of much debate in Kerrville in recent months. Several businesses and organizations had submitted variance requests for larger electronic signs or other types of signage that was not in compliance with the current statutes. The topic was a point of discussion leading up to May’s city council elections. The Code Review Committee, an ad hoc city commission made up of approximately 15 citizens, had worked on changes to the Zoning Code, Sign Ordinance, and other matters, from October 2018 through July 2019.

References

Written by Aaron Yates of Kerrville United

Council approves Arcadia Theater funds

Kerrville City Council approved two funding agreements for the renovation of the Arcadia Theater on Tuesday night, moving the ball forward on a $2.3 million effort led by the nonprofit Kerrville’s 4th on the River (KFOR). The group applied for and received a $600,000 grant from the EIC (Economic Improvement Corporation 4B salex tax monies) along with $400,000 of HOT funds (Hotel Occupancy Tax). The group will raise approximately $1.3 million in private contributions to fully fund the project.

The $600k in 4b funds were approved by EIC last week, but council had to give its blessing for the grant to become “official.”

The KFOR nonprofit group plans to open the theater by July 3, 2020.

A short presentation was made to council and some of those slides are presented below.