Tag Archives: city council

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.

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

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

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.

Council to consider Arcadia funding agreements

The next regularly scheduled Kerrville City Council meeting will take place on Tuesday evening at 6 PM in council chambers at City Hall. During this meeting, council will consider two funding agreements to partially fund the renovations at the Arcadia Theater on Water Street in downtown Kerrville.

The first agreement to consider is a funding agreement between the EIC and Kerrville’s 4th on the River (the nonprofit that seeks to renovate and operate the theater). The Economic Improvement Corporation (EIC) approved this agreement unanimously during its latest meeting on June 17. The agreement provides $600,000 in funding for the project based on certain milestones and requirements set forth in the contract.

The second funding agreement is between the City of Kerrville and Kerrville’s 4th on the River, and would provide $400,000 in HOT funds (Hotel Occupancy Tax funds) for the renovation of the theater. The language of this agreement is still being finalized by City Attorney Mike Hayes, and is not available for public viewing at this time.

In addition to these two funding agreements, council will also address these items:

  • An ordinance to prohibit truck traffic on Riverhill Boulevard
  • An ordinance to amend the Alcoholic Beverage Code
  • A resolution supporting Kerrville as a certified “Music Friendly Community”
  • Waiver of fees for the 2019 Chalk Festival
  • Extend the term of the Charter Review Commission
  • A Planned Development District (PDD) for “The Landing” along Thompson Drive
  • Contract for reconstruction of Hill Country Drive for $162k
  • Appointment to Planning & Zoning Commission

This meeting is open to the public and can be viewed on the city’s live streaming site here: http://player.frontlayer.com/live/fl518492

References

Agenda Packet for June 25, 2019

Council Agenda for May 28, 2019

The Kerrville City Council will convene after Memorial Day on Tuesday, May 28, 2019, at 6 PM in council chambers at City Hall. A busy agenda will be waiting for council as the newest members participate in their second full meeting following the May 4 election. Here’s a look at some of the items on the agenda for Tuesday night.

HEB Conditional Use Permits

The new grocery store that is planned next to the existing HEB grocery on Highway 27 will need a couple of Conditional Use Permits (or CUPs) to facilitate their overall plan. The first is a CUP near the west end of the property so that a gas station, car wash, and convenience store can be constructed. The second is a CUP for a parking lot on the northeast corner of Jefferson and Hayes Streets.

CUPs to be considered at Tuesday’s meeting.
Site plan for proposed HEB grocery store and gas station.

Public hearings for each of these CUPs will be held on Tuesday night.

Amending Alcoholic Beverage Code

Council will vote on the first reading of an ordinance to amend and clarify the rules regarding the regulation of sales of alcoholic beverages. Under this proposed ordinance, sales of alcohol would be prohibited in all residential zones, prohibit sales within 300 feet of a church, school, or hospital, and would provide for a variance request process. This ordinance also establishes the city’s fees for opening an alcohol sales location at 1/2 of the TABC license fee.

Depth of Field Photo of Two Pilsner Glasses

These rules are already in place, for the most part, but this ordinance will clarify and extend the rules to cover these additional stipulations regarding churches, schools, hospitals, and residential neighborhoods. The City of Kerrville has regulated alcohol sales since 1933.

Annexation for KISD’s new Peterson Middle School campus

The second and final reading of an ordinance to annex approximately 35 acres along Loop 534 will be held. Assuming it passes successfully, this will officially annex the property that is planned to be used for the new Peterson Middle School campus across from Tivy High School, and along the proposed extension of Olympic Drive.

35 acres to be considered for annexation for KISD’s Peterson Middle School.

At the first reading of this annexation ordinance on May 14, Mayor Bill Blackburn cast the lone “no” vote, but the first reading passed 4-1. Mayor Blackburn noted that he was voting against the annexation because the city had not received a traffic study or impact study to show how the traffic will be affected. Drew Paxton noted that the traffic study was still being completed, and Deputy City Manager EA Hoppe said the study would be complete in June.

As part of the packet of information for this second reading of the ordinance, a letter from KISD Superintendent Dr. Mark Foust is attached, and he shares excerpts of a traffic report that the district commissioned. The excerpt notes that approximately 50% of the students at the new Peterson Middle School will be bused, and 50% will be dropped off by a parent or relative. Approximately 1/3 (~300 students) would use the new Olympic Drive extension.

Appointments to EIC

Council will appoint or re-appoint members to the Economic Improvement Corporation (or EIC). The EIC is responsible for the 4B Sales Tax revenue that is collected for economic development. A total of approximately $3 million per year is collected and distributed for various projects supporting economic development, including quality of life projects such as the River Trail and Sports Complex, among others.

Four members’ terms expire on June 1, including Gary Cooper, Kent McKinney, Robert Naman, and Delayne Sigerman (City Councilperson Place 4). All are eligible for reappointment, as the board members serve two-year terms with a maximum of two consecutive terms.

This item is eligible for executive session, meaning council could adjourn to private quarters to discuss the applications and appointments.

Where to Watch

The city council meeting can be watched live at the City of Kerrville’s live streaming page below.

http://player.frontlayer.com/live/fl518492

References

Full Agenda Packet

Taking the oath: New council members sworn in

Mayor Bill Blackburn (left) congratulates Gary Cochrane (right) as Kim Clarkson (center) looks on. Photo from City of Kerrville.

History was made on Tuesday evening as the oaths of office were administered to new council members Gary Cochrane and Kim Clarkson. After Clarkson was sworn in, Kerrville became, for the first time, led by a majority-female City Council. Mayor Blackburn congratulated the new civil servants and thanked the outgoing council members Voelkel and Baroody. Soon after the pomp and circumstance, the new council sat for their first meeting.

Each outgoing and incoming council member delivered a short speech. Voelkel reminisced about the positive and funny moments from his two years of service. Baroody gave advice to incoming council members and promised that he is not going anywhere, and will continue to be active in the community.

Incoming Place 1 council member Gary Cochrane promised that he would be an independent-thinking and thorough council person. Newly installed Place 2 council member Kim Clarkson gave an impassioned speech regarding the importance of service. See each of the speeches in the full council video below.

A small celebration was held in the lobby following the short ceremony. The council reconvened at 6:00 PM for their first regular meeting. The full city council meeting can be viewed below.

New council members will be sworn in on Tuesday

Two new city councilmembers will find their seats on the dais Tuesday afternoon following the May 4 election. Place 1 Gary Cochrane and Place 2 Kim Clarkson will be sworn in at 5:00 PM Tuesday at City Hall, and at 6:00 PM, they will sit for their first meeting as council members. In addition to the full slate of agenda items during the regular meeting, the new council will also appoint a Mayor Pro Tem, which is basically the “vice mayor” that serves in the mayor’s absence.

In addition to the ceremonial and new council topics, the newly-installed council will also consider several items related to the new junior high school on Loop 534, some zoning matters, and they will receive an annual report from the Youth Advisory Committee.

The full agenda for Tuesday night can be found here:
http://kerrvilletx.granicus.com/DocumentViewer.php?file=kerrvilletx_a5633b65b8dd10d03a553483df7e2242.pdf&view=1

Election winners: Cochrane and Clarkson

As the warm and sunny election day turned into election evening, a large group of supporters huddled around the nearest laptop waiting for the early results to post to the Kerr County Elections website. Seven o’clock came and went, but results were not immediately forthcoming. (Traditionally the county releases the results of early voting immediately after the polls close on election day.) Then, as an uncharacteristically emotional outburst from Cochrane echoed through the room, the outcome was evident without even seeing the numbers. Candidates Gary Cochrane and Kim Clarkson each received a pair of telephone calls from the City Secretary’s office — the first offering relief (with early voting numbers) and the second offering confirmation (final tallies). Gary Cochrane and Kim Clarkson had won the election.

Unofficial results for 2019 City Council Elections.

671 votes were cast on election day, bringing the total turnout in this election to 3,021 — the first time an “odd-year” election has broken 3,000. With approximately 15,400 registered voters in the City of Kerrville, this means that about 20% of the registered voters cast a ballot this time around. This is a significant increase over the same election two years ago. In 2017, only 2,153 votes were cast, yielding a turnout of just 14.4%.

This year’s total of 3,021 earns the distinction of being the third largest turnout in Kerrville election history, behind 2018 and 2016, respectively. This year earns the honor of the highest-ever odd-year election total.

This year’s 671 ballots on election day represented only about 22% of the overall vote. The election day impact has shrunk significantly since 2017, with a higher percentage of the voters casting an early ballot.

Daily vote totals for 2019 election compared to 2018 and 2017.

Cochrane and Clarkson held a comfortable lead in the early results that included seven days of in-person early voting plus mail-in ballots. When the early numbers arrived, Clarkson held a 63-37% advantage while Cochrane led with a 64-36% margin. But Baroody and Garcia did narrow the margin some on election day. Saturday voters went 52% for Cochrane and Clarkson, with 48% going to Baroody and Garcia, narrowing that early lead by a few points.

Notably in this election, the two pairs of candidates ran their campaigns in alignment, and the results suggest that voters understood these relationships and voted accordingly. Just a 1% difference separated the winning margins in the two races — Cochrane with 61% and Clarkson with 60% after all votes were counted.

Reactions

After the final results were posted, Mario Garcia made his way to Kim Clarkson’s election night headquarters and offered his congratulations. However, as of Sunday morning, Gary Cochrane has not received any communications from George Baroody.

Baroody did offer something of a compliment to Cochrane as he told the Hill Country Community Journal,

“Gary Cochrane came to me after the polls closed and shook hands with me. And I agree it was a good race. It was nice to have it be a clean thing. The issues were the issues and I still believe a big portion of the community was not heard,” Baroody said. “I would like to keep the issues at the forefront, and continue to advocate for the people. I was proud to serve for two years, and will continue to serve my community, however that may be.”

Clarkson, Cochrane winners in city election. Hill Country Community Journal. May 4, 2019.

Garcia’s first foray into the political arena did not succeed as he’d hoped, but he remained positive, telling the Hill Country Community Journal,

“I felt we ran a good clean campaign. I was there until the polls closed. Right now I just feel really numb. But I went to congratulate Kim Clarkson at her party tonight and told her to work hard,” Garcia said. “She said to stay close and to bring any issues to her. I enjoyed the campaign and my goal was to bring a higher voter turnout and run my campaign with humility and civility – the good old decent way, sort of the Andy Griffith way.”

Clarkson, Cochrane winners in city election. Hill Country Community Journal. May 4, 2019.

What’s Next

Kim Clarkson and Gary Cochrane celebrate their victories on election night 2019.

The results will be canvassed and the newest council members will be sworn in at 5:00 PM on Tuesday, May 14, just ahead of a 6:00 PM regular city council meeting where they will immediately begin their duties on the dais.

In the mean time, current council members Vincent Voelkel and George Baroody will continue to serve in Place 1 and Place 2, respectively.

Takeaways

  • Kim Clarkson and Gary Cochrane win seats on council with about 60% of the vote
  • Turnout is up 40% from the same election 2017
  • Turnout lags behind 2018 by approximately 1,000 votes
  • Election day’s impact is shrinking as more voters turn out for early voting
  • Overall voter turnout was 20% of registered voters

References

Complete Election Results from Kerr County

Hill Country Community Journal article