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Monthly P&Z reports belie charges of ‘unproductivity’

By Judith Pannebaker

Throughout December, Bandera City Council Mayor Pro Tem Monica Halsey attempted to dissove the Bandera Planning and Zoning Commission or, alternatively, remove Chairman Jim Hannah and Commissioner Robert Koimn from its ranks.

As per City Ordinance 2-96, Halsey pronounced the commission “unproductive,” saying, “For the last 12 to 18 months, city council has repeatedly asked the P&Z to do a master plan, and they refused to do one.” Adding to her litany of complaints, Halsey continued, “They’ve given no reports to city council … We requested a quarterly update on their activities in September and haven’t received one yet. P&Z is not doing what we asked.”
However, both of Halsey’s maneuvers ultimately failed.

During the Thursday, Dec. 20, meeting, Hannah delivered to city council a year end report from P&Z, as well as a synopsis of discussions and actions taken at the commission’s monthly meetings. Below is a precís of his monthly reports:

• During the first meeting of the year last January, Cindy Harrington took the oath of office as a P&Z commissioner. Citizens attending the meeting expressed concerns about future city growth and plans for its orderly development. Maps for Bandera’s Historical District and other historical locations were also discussed.

• In February, P&Z reviewed the master planning processes of both Boerne and Helotes. Commissioners noted consulting firms were ultimately engaged to prepare master plans for both cities.

• Central Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Ed Barns attended the March meeting. He addressed how tax incentives as components in comprehensive master planning can lead to low density land development - if the public desires. Commissioners also discussed an anticipated Capital Improvement Committee which would work with P&Z and city council during the master planning process.

• In April, P&Z voted to report area residents’ concerns about B-2 zoning to city council.

In addition, as outlined in Bandera’s Subdivision Ordinance No. 243, it was noted during discussions of master planning and ETJ development guidelines that “tax incentives,” issued by county taxing districts to landowners and developers, could help achieve lower density development

• During the May meeting, commmissioners approved changing B-2 zoning, residential-commercial district, back to the original zoning ordinance, to allow a public hearing on the matter. The zoning was changed in 2006. Commissioners also confered about the Texas Historical Commission’s “Main Street Program” that could possibly be incorporated into Bandera’s master planning. Additionally, Foerster briefed the commission of a city proposal to apply to the state for a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN) to manage non-exempt water wells that produce more than 25,000 gallons of water a day.

• In June, P&Z discussed a possible review of the subdivision ordinance should the city implements its Subdivision Ordinance Number 243 via an innerlocal agreement with the county. In addition, City Administrator Gene Foerster briefed commissioners about a propsed monitoring well in the city.

• During the July meeting, commissioners expressed a need to receive additional input from city residents and businesses about proposed master planning. Also, P&Z decided to solicit information and advice from private and state planning agencies to decrease the cost of the master plan.

P&Z also discussed a memo submitted to the commission from City Attorney Monte Akers dated June 29, outlining the duties and role of the P&Z. None of the commissioners agreed with the memo’s interpretation of P&Z functions, which, they felt, were not in accord with Texas Municipal League guidelines. Additionally, commissioners unanimously disapproved the way Foerster presented the memo. Apparently, he was “ordered” not to provide members with a copy of the memo. Instead, commissioners were asked to sign and return the memo to him as proof they had received the memo. Accordingly, members refused to sign for the memo. Instead, commissioners decided to request a workshop with city council to discuss their issues with the June 29 memo.

During discussions of the City of Bandera’s Subdivision Ordinance and Bandera County’s subdivision rules, P&Z explored ways to alleviate the differences between the two governments. An eventual innerlocal agreement would grant regulatory authority in its own ETJ to the city.

• The August meeting was canceled for lack of a quorum.

• On Sept. 5, P&Z held a joint workshop with city council. During the workshop, a controversial June 29 memorandum issued by Akers that outlined P&Z abilities and desired master plan results was discussed. City council also requested that P&Z commissioners provide regular written reports - beginning in 2008. Akers was asked to prepare a Request For Proposal for the city to send out for master planning consultant applications.

• In October, commissioners approved providing to city council a timeline and process line schedule of master plan consultant applications . Members also discussed the year-end report to city, as well as required 2008 quarterly reports. They also approved providing P&Z by-laws for city council’s approval.

• On Nov. 27, P&Z discussed the possibility that Bandera’s Economic Development Corporation may provide additional funding for the city’s master planning process. Harrington volunteered to brief the EDC board at their Dec.19th meeting.

After reviewing changes by Akers, commissioners also voted to provide edited changes of P&Z proposed by-laws at the Dec. 6 meeting of city council.

• On Dec. 18, P&Z held a public hearing to deal with concerns about B-2, residential-commercial zoning. After reconvening in a regular session, commissioners voted to recommend a change to Zoning Ordinance 246 - deleting retail food services and on-site consumption of beer and wine from the B-2 district. The commission also noted some possible editing corrections in the ordinance.

Members of the Bandera Planning and Zoning Commission in 2007 included Hannah, Koimn, Punky Echart Camp and Harrington.