Rules streamlined for historic buildings
By LPR Staff
After weeks of review and years of being accused of hampering business growth, the Lockhart Historic Preservation Commission revealed on Tuesday evening a revised ordinance they hope to encourage growth in Lockhart’s downtown historic district.
The ordinance revisions, first introduced after City Manager Vance Rodgers
asked the council for extensive review of the ordinance last spring, includes a variety of changes that which, commission members hope, will make it easier for building owners to improve their property without having to appear before the LHPC.
Prior to the revision, the ordinance required property owners to obtain a Certificate for Alteration for any improvement they wanted to make to the exterior, or visible from the exterior, of their property. The changes allow owners to bypass that process, provided the improvements they plan fall within a specific set of pre-approved guidelines which include suggestions for windows, doors, awnings and signs.
The pre-approved improvements, which are included as illustrations within the new version of the ordinance, do not preclude property owners from making other improvements to their properties, LHPC member Gina Jacobs-Lozano said during Tuesday’s meeting. Instead, they offer an option that allows property owners to not have to appear before the LHPC in order to improve their properties.
“We also aren’t suggesting these are the only things that can be done,” Lozano said. “If someone comes up with a wonderful and creative idea, we certainly want that. These things, these are the things that are pre-approved. Things outside these guidelines, we hope to hear and consider on a case-by-case basis.”
Discussion about the changes lasted for around half an hour, during which time several members of the LHPC expressed gratitude to Rodgers for the time he spent in assisting the group with their endeavors and said they hoped the ordinance revision was a compromise that both the LHPC and the property owners can live with.
“We aren’t trying to keep anyone from improving their property,” LHPC member Coyle Buhler said. “What we’re trying to do is help them, to help them protect their properties and help their neighbors protect theirs.”
Two individuals spoke out against the ordinance revision. LHPC member Dave Moore said that, while he agreed the changes were an excellent compromise, said he would prefer to see the ordinance repealed altogether.
“This is something that we did to get the Courthouse restored, and the library restored,” Moore said. “When we did this thing in 1993, it was supposed to be a temporary ordinance, and it’s been permanent ever since.”
Downtown property owner John Stumpf expressed similar concerns, and implored the council to allow property owners to be responsible for their own buildings, rather than having to ask the LHPC for permission.
In the end, the council voted 7-0 to support the changes.
In other historical preservation news, the council approved with a split vote an initiative to apply for grant funding through the Texas Historic Commission for assistance with the restoration of the Brock Cabin.
Rodgers said the grant, if received, could provide for a one-half match, up to $50,000, for the restoration project.
Prior to the vote, councilmember Kenny Roland expressed concern about the initiative, suggesting two problems: the first being the determination has not yet been made if the cabin will stay in its current position and second, that taxpayer monies not be used on the cabin restoration project.
The vote to apply for the grant passed 5-2, with Roland and Mayor Pro Tem Frank Estrada standing against the measure.
The Lockhart City Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Glosserman Conference Room at Lockhart City Hall. The meetings are open to the public and televised on Time Warner Cable Channel 10.