Benny Boyd

Council eyes downtown bar business woes

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

Though the burgeoning atmosphere in the Downtown Historic District has drawn loads of positive attention to Lockhart’s revitalized Courthouse Square, the addition of several new late-night businesses has created headaches for some property owners and residents of the Downtown Historic District.

D

owntown property owner Janet Christian approached the Council during their regular meeting on Tuesday to discuss problems she believes have arisen as a result of the growth of the entertainment industry downtown.

Christian’s complaint arose from notice she received from a tenant in a downtown apartment of their intention to move, because of noise, trash and property damage issues the tenant has pinned on the opening of bars in the Market Street corridor.

While Christian expressed support and praise for the bars on North Main Street, she said a different clientele and attitude was present with the establishments on Market Street.

“It’s clear that it’s a serious problem,” she said. “Fights, hit-and-run property damage and alcohol in the streets are unacceptable, and not at all the intent of [the City’s ordinance allowing bars in the Downtown Historic District].”

Christian asked the Council to consider revoking the two establishments’ “late-hours” permits, and possibly denying their Specific Use Permits when they come up for renewal. In addition, she asked that the City delve into the situation in an attempt to pinpoint and solve the problems of trash, violence and noise, possibly to the extent of denying additional permits until the situation is resolved.

She also noted that she plans to file a complaint with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Mayor Lew White asked City Manager Vance Rodgers to address the issue and make a report to the council about the situation. Rodgers said he would take it up with Interim Chief of Police John Roescher.

In other business, the Council heard an extensive presentation from City Planner Dan Gibson in advance of a vote on granting a zoning change and Specific Use Permit to a property owner in relation to the development of a property on the corner of San Antonio and Elm Street.

According to Gibson, the zoning change and permit would allow the owner to move forward with the construction of an eight-unit, multi-family residential complex. The SUP, he said, was required because of a city ordinance limiting multi-family properties to a density of less than 12 units per acre. While the construction of the eight-unit complex is consistent with the current landscape of the neighborhood, it is not necessarily consistent with the future proposed land use maps.

The units, which are proposed as four two-story duplex properties, are not related to the other multi-family properties in the area, which include five apartment complexes. They would provide ample parking within the stipulations of the city code of ordinances, with access to parking on the Elm Street side.

Architect Thom Earnest, who represented the property owner during the public hearing, noted there are several trees on the property that, under city ordinance, would require permits to remove. He said he was able to work around most of those trees, and the few that he would have to remove would likely not fall under a protected status. He said he had planned the property with eight units, and 18 parking spaces, none of which will force drivers to back out on to Elm Street.

Earnest assured the Council that his plans would keep the property consistent with the current neighborhood.

No one attended the public hearing to speak against the zoning change, and Gibson said he had received no resistance from the surrounding property owners.

The council unanimously approved the change.

In brief news:

The Council read a proclamation in honor of Municipal Court Week and offered praise and thanks to the staff of the Lockhart Municipal Court.

At the request of retired Police Chief Mike Lummus, the Police Department has chosen to return Ringo, the Department’s drug dog, to his original handler. Ringo, who was donated to the City of Lockhart by the Austin Police Department three years ago, has fallen ill, and his original handler requested to take the dog back, as a personal pet, to care for him in his senior years. K9 Handler Drew Lewis reported that Ringo currently requires assistance to get in and out of the patrol vehicle, and supported his retirement.

Rodgers reported to the Council that work is continuing on schedule on both the Highway 183 expansion project, and the Mesquite, Braden, Wichita and Vega Street drainage projects.

He also said he had met with residents of the East Walnut Street area about drainage and street improvements scheduled in that area.

The City will continue to work on designs, and coordinate with residents to address drainage issues on Ash, Comal and Pine Streets.

During their next regular meeting on Nov. 22, the Council will canvass votes from the Nov. 8, 2016, election, and swear the winners in to their seats.

The Lockhart City Council routinely meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Third Floor Council Chambers of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library. The meetings are open to the public, and are televised on Time Warner (Spectrum) Digital Cable Channel 10.

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3 comments

  1. Janet Christian 5 November, 2016 at 13:15 Reply

    Thank you for the balanced report of my addressing the City Council. I do think that allowing liquor on the square has been an almost total success. It has revitalized our Historic District and given locals (and those traveling through) many options for fun, dining, and entertainment.

    On the flip side, it is frustrating to lose good, reliable, hard-working tenants who had signed a long-term lease, as well as the income from that rental. Until this problem is resolved, finding new tenants might be easy, but keeping them, too, will likely be hard.

    There’s really only one bar that is causing all of the issues. I spoke with the new TABC Agent for Caldwell County yesterday. He was already familiar with the problems and where they are originating. I’m not the first to complain, although I’m the first to report a direct loss of revenue as a result of this bar’s poor behavior.

    Let’s hope that city officials, LPD, and TABC can work together to promptly solve this issue. I want to see Lockhart’s Courthouse Square continue to grow and thrive. Getting rid of the rotten apple will help ensure this happens in a positive way for local businesses AND those who reside in the multiple apartments around the downtown area.

  2. Debra French 12 November, 2016 at 15:26 Reply

    Janet, in the LPR article it states you asked the Council to revoke the permits of the “two” establishments. In your 11/5 comment you state it is “really only one bar that is causing all of the issues.” Just curious, is it “one” or “two” and do you mind sharing your opinion on which one it is?

    • staff 14 November, 2016 at 16:26 Reply

      Ladies –
      The decision by the Post-Register not to name the businesses in the article was intentional, and we’d ask that you respect that decision, and not single out any local business in a negative light on a platform that we host. Thanks for your cooperation.

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