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2014-07-24

No beginning in sight for city sidewalks

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

During a meeting on Tuesday, July 8, the City of Bandera Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) discussed a long-awaited sidewalk project, the current sign ordinance and city maps, among other agenda items.
City Administrator Lamar Schulz updated P&Z commissioners on the sidewalk assessment project that will eventually take place along Main Street. Since its first discussion in October 2013, the project has apparently been in limbo - a fact not lost on P&Z Chairman Tony Battle.
Although Pape Dawson Engineering, Inc. of San Antonio had been scheduled to begin the assessment, a number of questions and concerns surfaced during Schulz's research. "I found an unsigned resolution, but I can't locate the meeting minutes that indicated council had approved the project," he told P&Z members.
"It was approved by city council and then went back to EDC (City of Bandera Economic Development Corporation) for a public hearing," Battle said.
Schulz reiterated, however, that no signed resolution or city council agenda item indicated that had, in fact, occurred.
Councilman Jim Hannah, who was attending the P&Z meeting, opined that council had discussed the sidewalk matter last July or August.
Asking Schulz to look through EDC agendas and minutes again, Battle said, "Everything's been done. There was a public hearing." Battle continued, "This item is near and dear to me and I would like to get it done. I only have five months left in my term. (The sidewalk project) has been a year in the making and we haven't gotten anywhere."
During the October P&Z meeting, Battle noted that EDC had budgeted $12,000 for the preliminary sidewalk project plan. He said $8,000 would be used for a needs assessment that would include two meetings with the EDC, development of a typical section of a sidewalk corridor and a sample plan view illustrating potential developments to Main Street.
Because of a work commitment, Battle was unable to present a review of Pape-Dawson's preliminary proposal to EDC directors during their October 2013 meeting. At that time, EDC directors indicated they preferred to hear Battle's presentation before approving the funds needed to jumpstart the project.
In a recent telephone interview, EDC President Johnny Boyle said he didn't recall a public hearing being held on the EDC's fund allocation. "We're just waiting for someone to tell us to release the funds," he said.
As of July 17, Schulz was unable to unearth any information that the $12,000 for the sidewalk project had been approved by city council. Although city council approves the EDC budget in which the funds were allocated, apparently individual projects, such as the sidewalk assessment, must be approved again - which seems somewhat redundant.
In other business, P&Z Commissioner Toni Kunz continued a discussion on possibly updating R-1 (single family) vs. R-2 (duplex) zoning within the municipality.
The R-2 zoning district allows for any use permitted in an R-1 District, as well as a dwelling or group of dwellings on one plot or lot containing separate living units for two families, but which may have joint services and facilities. Additionally, only one duplex unit or group of units is be allowed on any one lot. The minimum lot size for a duplex unit or units is 8,000 square feet.
In R-1 zoning, only one single-family dwelling is allowed per single lot. The minimum lot size for a single-family dwelling is 10,000 square feet.
First discussed during the May meeting of P&Z, a problem with R-1 zoning surfaced when it was discovered that residents have rental properties on lots zoned for single families only. P&Z members agreed to have Schulz speak with a city attorney (purportedly from the law firm of Denton, Navarro, Rocha, Bernal, Hyde & Zech, PC, of San Antonio - for the next 60 days, at least) and add verbiage to the ordinance that would prohibit a second dwelling from being constructed on a single family lot for the sole purpose of generating rental income.
Turning to other business, Mayor Don Clark had asked P&Z to review the city's sign ordinance after business owners had earlier complained that they considered the present one to be draconian and unfair.
However, Battle described the current sign ordinance as "appropriate," adding, "I don't have any concerns." Other commissioners agreed.
Kunz said, "I like it as it stands. The ordinance is in line with other small towns. I have no issues with it."
P&Z Commissioner Punkie Camp said she had worked on the ordinance in the early 1990s and the committee had used Fredericksburg as a model.
"I listened to the ramblings at city council and it seemed to be just a personal agenda," Kunz said. "If I hadn't been at the city council meeting, I would not have known anyone had a problem."
Recommending that the sign ordinance stay as written, Battle said, "This has been on our agenda two times and we've had no visitors with concerns," he said. "Let's leave it as it is and move on." And P&Z did.
In a final bit of business during the 20-minute meeting, Battle asked Schulz to review city maps covering zoning, infrastructure and historical overlay, as well as the land use maps included in the comprehensive master plan. "We have the responsibility to ensure that the maps are (upgraded and corrected)," Battle said. "We'll listen to Lamar's recommendations and take on the work as needed." No doubt, this will be back on the agenda at a future P&Z meeting.