Headline News
Go Back

City meeting and workshop focus on planning

By Bev Barr BCC Editor

The City Council met in closed executive session Monday, Dec. 11, to discuss the possibility of buying property on Pecan St., across the street from the courthouse in what used to be the Moore Title Company building. When the council reconvened in open session, the council voted on whether or not to continue to negotiate for the purchase of the property. Glenn Clark and Lynn Palmer voted in favor of continuing to negotiate; Rebeca Gibson and Toni Kunz voted not to continue the negotiations; and newly elected councilwoman Christine Morse recused herself from voting on this agenda item because of conflict of interest. Morse is the real estate agent representing the commercial property for sale that the council is considering buying. Mayor Schaumann cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of continuing to negotiate the possible purchase of the property.
The workshop was a forum with the specific purpose of allowing council members the opportunity to articulate and discuss the priorities with one another and begin laying-out a plan and timeline to address those priorities. Every council member brought their best game to the table on Monday night, and set the stage for an effective and productive year.
The first topic discussed was code enforcement and the frustration that sometimes results from what seems like selective enforcement of ordinances. Councilwoman Kunz acknowledged that it was a “hard job … and we only see what we see,” and Councilwoman Palmer described an incidence of a citizen approaching her with a question regarding the permissibility of “blow up” – inflatable – advertisements. After a rather lengthy discussion among council members and with input from Deputy Marshal Will Dietrich about division of duties and consistent enforcement, the council agreed that that a checklist of procedures was essential in order to minimize frustration among citizens (who may be applying for a permit) and employees (who need to provide accurate complete information to citizens upon request). And, this is important: The council wants the public to know that it is a citizen’s right and opportunity to come to the council and ask for a variance, if and when an ordinance is interfering with a citizen’s or business owner’s specific purpose.
The council unanimously agreed that improvements to local parks are a high priority for the community and they discussed various and specifics details to that end: designated parking, public bathrooms, playground equipment, a public awareness campaign to not feed wildlife (including ducks), increasing the overall park acreage in order to be eligible for grants, staffing and security, development of small satellite parks in neighborhoods and/or incorporating city owned property into green space, the possibility of affording shade by applying for grants from the American Cancer Society, and the possibility of a dog park.
In response to that last item of discussion, Glenn Clark said, “We need to take care of our kids first. Then we’ll worry about the dogs.”
Dietrich suggested that the council consider passing an ordinance to make the parks “child safe zones,” which would prohibit registered sex offenders from being in the parks.
“As it is, we run them off,” Dietrich said. “But the ordinance would make it a ticket-able offense.” Councilwoman Gibson volunteered to work with the marshal on drafting the ordinance.
The third big priority the council discussed has to do with public parking. They agreed to evaluate parking off Main Street. Councilwoman Palmer chose this moment to remind the council of one of her campaign promises or goals, which is to achieve “a walk-able Main Street” – even if the city achieves it in bits in pieces or one side of the street at a time. Palmer wants to make some progress "this year." The challenges with TX DOT were mentioned and the council agreed to evaluate the situation, hold a joint workshop with the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Economic Development Corporation and include and invite input of people from other organizations, such as the Bandera Business Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Bandera County Visitors Bureau.
In other matters, newly elected Councilwoman Christine Morse brought up the topic of writing an ordinance to prevent franchises in the downtown area. Palmer said that she thought the city needed to support RiverFest this year, because the event is beneficial to the community. Clark said that he appreciates the events that the nonprofits sponsor, but that the council’s priority is to address the needs of the city, and that the organizations need to explore alternate ways to fund special events. Kunz said “on call procedures” need to be clear to citizens, and Gibson thinks the city needs to explore grants and consider actions that will make the city “eligible” to apply for some of the various grants that are available resources.