Council attempt to change ordinance raises eyebrows
By LPR Staff
What was originally intended as an attempt to streamline city procedures backfired on the Lockhart City Council last Thursday night when an impassioned group of citizens balked at a plan to change the city”s Historic Preservation Ordinance.
The ordinance, which City Manager told the council during the last meeting was s
een by some downtown property owners as “overbroad,” is being called into question because it imposes certain limitations on property owners, which might prevent them from making upgrades or improvements to their buildings.
Under the current ordinance, property owners are required to ask for Certificates For Alteration on many repair projects which Rodgers said might not be relevant. He reported a poll of downtown property owners that suggested several are afraid to ask the council for changes to the ordinance, for fear that they may later have to come before the Historic Preservation Commission and ask for a CFA, which they fear would be denied by the committee as a means of punishment.
Presently, the Historical Preservation Commission is the only citizen committee under the City of Lockhart”s charter that is empowered to approve the ordinances that govern them.
While Councilmember Richard Banks spoke passionately in favor of putting off action on the ordinance in order to give the public and the Commission the opportunity to review it, Councilmember Paul Gomez argued the CFA process has been a “thorn in [the council”s] side” for quite some time, and that requests to the Commission to alter the process in the past have been ignored.
Several members of the Commission were present at the meeting, six of seven, according to Commission Chair Kathy McCormick. Most spoke to the council and suggested they would not only like the opportunity to review the ordinance prior council approval, but they committed to working with property owners to make the process easier, and said they had not heard complaints about the CFA process.
Additionally, McCormick pointed out the current ordinance requires any changes to the historical preservation ordinance be not only reviewed by the Commission, but opened up for public hearing prior to the council taking action.
After confirming the caveat with city attorney Peter Gruning, the council opted to table the measure, and will discuss it at a public hearing in the future tentatively set for May 2.
In other business, the council heard a presentation by Ronda Reagan, the chair of the Save the Brock Cabin Committee, as well as comments from members of the committee and the Brock family.
Throughout the course of the discussion, it remains undetermined as to what will be done with the long-embattled cabin in the future.
Reagan said her committee has raised upwards of $15,000 toward the restoration of the cabin, but said it will require, according to her figures, an additional $85,000 to finish the project.
Rodgers argued the last estimate he received in regards to restoration of the cabin was significantly higher, and reminded the council that after the restoration project is complete, maintenance of the building will still be required. At present, he said, the city can offer no “in kind” labor to the committee, because the last professional report the city has on file suggests the structure is unsafe to occupy, and Rodgers said he was not comfortable asking city crews to work in such a building.
Mayor James “Jimmy” Bertram insisted he wanted the issue settled prior to his leaving office later this spring.
In brief news:
A citizen berated Bertram for his issuance of a Proclamation and giving the Key to the City of Lockhart to Austin disc jockey Charlie Hodge. The citizen said she was offended by what she called Bertram”s “abuse of power” in “pandering to a shock jock,” who she said was a purveyor of obscene material. She demanded he rescind the proclamation. She also expressed concern over the timing, as the proclamation was delivered on not only Election Day, but on Texas Independence Day.
Bertram responded the request for the gesture was made by another citizen, and said he would not rescind the proclamation.
The council heard presentations from two law firms regarding the possible redistricting of the city after the 2010 Census. They are expected to make a decision about whether to contract one of the firms during their next meeting.
They approved an agreement that will allow students to ride with, and in some cases assist, Lockhart/Caldwell County EMS.
The Lockhart City Council routinely meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Glosserman Conference Room of Lockhart City Hall. The meetings are open to the public, and citizens are encouraged to attend.