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City Council hires experts to expedite results

By Bev Barr BCC Editor

The Bandera City Council discussed several items Monday night and made numerous decisions aimed at saving money over the long term. The council unanimously agreed to spend some money to hire experts to expeditiously resolve and help manage a few of the time consuming, technical and legal challenges the Planning and Zoning commission faces. The council appointed Laura Davenport to serve on the Economic Development Corporation and reappointed Patricia Moore (who also serves on the Planning and Zoning Commission) to serve on the EDC another year. They approved a $2,500 budget adjustment for the EDC, and necessarily struggled with the tedious challenge of rewording the existing legal code pertaining to garage sales, which is unclear and confusing. In a nutshell, the council accomplished a lot. And they did it in about two hours.
Requests for Qualifications for three professional services
Tom Brown, from MRB/GRAY Engineers, LLC, spoke to the council at length with a well-prepared presentation about financing (and refinancing) various water development and wastewater programs. MRB/Gray Engineers is a team of engineers that specifically deal with municipal engineering needs. Brown was conversational and no doubt knowledgeable about negotiating a myriad of Texas regulatory boards (such as TCEQ and TWDB), as well as the cost efficiency of combining several different engineering needs the city has now, or will soon require.
Following Brown’s presentation and after some discussion, the council approved City Manager Linda S Coones’ recommendation for three Request For Qualifications Statements, one for each of three professional services that the city will need to execute contractual agreements with the Texas Water Development Board. The Request for Qualifications will be for bond counsel, engineering, and financial advisory services. (Request for qualifications used to be known as Request For Proposals, or RFP.)
The city manager will post the request for qualifications on the Small Business Administration (SBA) website for 30 days, and bring bids back to the council for consideration at that time.
Planning & Zoning Commission
The next item the council considered was whether or not to hire Stewardship Strategies, out of Austin, to establish Policies, Guidelines & Responsibilities of the City of Bandera Planning and Zoning Commission. Councilwoman Toni Kunz introduced the topic by describing her own observations based on her experience serving on the P&Z Commission. To paraphrase a bit, Kunz said that when she started, she looked around for and wished for a handbook that spelled out the guidelines and important details about serving on the P&Z, so that she could accomplish real work. She wanted something that told her, ‘these are your duties, these are the expectations …’ and so on. Nothing like that existed, and it was frustrating. This is one reason the council was considering hiring the experts at Stewardship Strategies.
Larry Haddad, who serves on the P&Z Commission, told the council that he shared that experience, and that they recently learned of a generic planning guide —“American Planning Association” — that will help the current P&Z Commission structure a specific guide for Bandera. He told the council that the commission meets twice a week and that they take their duties very seriously. Haddad shared the commission’s effort toward “cleaning up” and “upgrading business codes,” and in some cases adding new codes. “Fire code ordinances, for example, which up to this point have been nonexistent,” Haddad said.
Haddad articulated a “Big Picture” goal that — based on mumbles of approving acknowledgment and the number of times the same idea was reiterated in slightly different words throughout the remainder of the meeting — everyone seemed to appreciate. It’s this: “If an average citizen reads it (a code or ordinance), they will fully comprehend it without being confused."
The council thanked and complimented Haddad and the current P&Z Commission numerous times throughout the night, and expressed respect for everything they are doing.
Stewardship Strategies
Britin Bostick then gave an informative presentation that essentially described what Stewardship Strategies could provide to the city and why the city needs their services. She shared at least two legal cases and some of the counterintuitive (and somewhat entertaining) details intrinsic in complicated legal cases. She characterized the work that they would do as being fully supportive of the P&Z commission and that what they would provide would free up the commission to work on other things that matter.
The council voted unanimously to hire Stewardship Strategies for $4,500 and the first order of business will be a workshop with the council, the P&Z Commission, and Bostick and her partner, Frank Ordia. The date for that workshop has not been set yet.
Filling two EDC
Board vacancies
There was only one application for the two open EDC Board positions for council members to consider. After some discussion about whether to advertise the opportunity, or otherwise try to promote interest or recruit to fill the available positions, the council appointed Bandera resident Laura Davenport to the EDC Board, filling the spot for Glenn Clark, whose term has expired.
Patricia Moore’s term has also expired, but lacking any other applicants to fill the voluntary position, the council gratefully accepted Moore’s offer to continue her service on the commission and reappointed her. Moore, who also serves on the EDC, will serve through May 31, 2018.
Amending the garage sale ordinance
The council discussed amending the ordinance, Article 4.05, which pertains to flea markets, rummage sales, garage sales and yard sales. The counsel agrees that the language needs to be precisely accurate and understandable to the average citizen, but struggled (as all writers do) with getting the words right. councilwoman Kunz agreed to finalize the wording and prepare it for the next meeting.
Future agenda items
Future agenda items include the Skateboard Park, details regarding a property on Cedar Street; details pertaining to the master plan and the City Park, including but not limited to rules and schedule of patrols.
The meeting adjourned shortly before 9 pm.