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2015-10-15

Economic Development Part 2 - Oct. 1

Letters to the Editor

(Editor's note: Currently, the City of Bandera Board of Adjustments is comprised of the city council. Of course, the two separate groups - although made up of the same people - serve different functions. Who would think otherwise?)

I would like to take exception to a couple of statements in the October 1, 2015 article "To Develop or Not - Part 2." In the article there was a line "board of adjustment[s] - AKA city council" - which is misleading.
This usage, equating the functions of board of adjustment with that of the city council, might lead the reader to believe that these two bodies serve similar purposes. While it's true that the membership of both bodies are comprised of the same individuals, their respective duties are vastly different and do not overlap. Perhaps some of the writer's general dissatisfaction with local governance might be explained by her misunderstanding of what the board of adjustment is charged to do.
The board of adjustment has only one authority - to grant variances. These variances may be granted when a property owner has a unique situation, or, to quote from city's codebook "applicant must demonstrate that a literal enforcement of the ordinance would result in unnecessary hardship. The applicant must show that the hardship is unique, oppressive, not common to other property, not merely financial."
When Mr. Rajabi, the owner of the small lot where the proposed LED billboard was to be erected, was asked, "What's your unique situation?" He replied, "Financial."
Based on this evidence, or lack thereof, the board of adjustment had no choice but to reject his request for a variance. Having failed to prove that his need for a freestanding LED billboard was a hardship unique to his situation, Mr. Rajabi might then have tried to get the city to change its sign ordinance.
Such a change would have allowed all property owners on Main Street to erect billboards. Perhaps such an outcome was not appealing to Mr. Rajabi as it would have made his billboard advertising business subject to price competition from other billboard owners, or perhaps he thought such a zoning change impossible to achieve.
Regardless, the board of adjustment fulfilled its statutory obligation to treat all property owners equally.
As far as the article's claim that the city's sign ordinance is unintelligible I can only say that it was modeled on Fredericksburg's and Boerne's, was passed in the 1990s, and has not been changed since.
Before a business owner decides to erect a sign, or put one in the back of his pickup and park it in front of his business, it might be a good idea to read through the pertinent part of the city's codebook. It's available online. If the owner still has questions he may contact the City Code Enforcement officer and ask for clarification.

Mayor John Hegemier
City of Bandera