Sign ordinance dominates council talks
By LPR Staff
Lockhart city staff”s “problems” in administering and enforcing the city”s current sign ordinance led to heated discussion at the council table on Tuesday evening.
City Planner Dan Gibson approached the council to request changes to the sign ordinance. The changes he proposed would alter not only the regulations on t
he repair and replacement of “grandfathered” signs, but also introduce new regulations regarding mobile and electronic signs.
Much of the concern from the council about Gibson”s suggestions centered around the position of the ad hoc Ordinance Review Committee, who has not yet completed their review of the sign ordinance, and was recently asked to defer their review of the ordinance to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
“Why are the recommendations of the ordinance review committee going to Planning and Zoning before they go to the council,” said At Large Councilmember Paul Gomez. “If we”re going to do this, we should have never appointed the review committee.”
Gibson said the need for the changes was a priority of city staff because of the emergence of new technology and the dangers drivers face because of that technology, including electronic signs that simulate movement.
However, Gibson fell under attack, not only for his forced enforcement position regarding the sign ordinance, but also for not sharing the specifics of the current enforcement problems with the council.
“We shouldn”t have our city planner running around chasing this kind of enforcement when it”s not a danger to anyone,” said District One Councilmember Kenny Roland. “I think his time could be better spent elsewhere.”
Gibson responded he is only engaged in enforcement when he receives a specific complaint about a sign, and City Manager Vance Rodgers said the changes were initiated by a particular situation the city received a report on.
“I always like to support the staff,” said At Large Coucilmember Dick Weiland. “But my concern is that the staff has called out an “emergency situation,” but hasn”t told us what the emergency is.”
Roland, Weiland and Gomez voted to table the changes until a more thorough review of the sign ordinance could be made, not only by the ordinance review committee but also by the council. However, the other four members of the council voted to support the measure as it was presented.
In brief news:
The council approved a loan in the amount of $25,000 to Printing Solutions under the Economic Development Revolving Loan Program. According to business owner Ron Falstitch, the loan will be used to open a Printing Solutions storefront on East Market Street near the Square.
They denied a request for a variance from a South Blanco Street homeowner who had an out-of-code driveway poured by what councilmembers called a “crooked” contractor. Though the owner was told before the pour was complete the structure was out of code, he opted to finish pouring the driveway, much of which is located within city right of way. The homeowner was denied a variance last month by the Construction Board of Appeals and was asked to remove the driveway.
Another homeowner approached the council with a request to waive liens on their property that were levied as a result of mowing violations. The liens were in place when the couple purchased the property in a 2006 tax sale, but they claimed they were told the liens would be “taken care of” by an agent involved in the sale. Although they waived the interest, the council decided there was no “public purpose” to waiving the liens.
They granted a franchise to sell electricity to Bluebonnet Electric Co-op, which provides electric service to several residences and at least one subdivision within the Lockhart City Limits.
The Lockhart City Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month in the Glosserman Conference Room at Lockhart City Hall. The next meeting will be held on May 20, when the results of Saturday”s municipal election will be canvassed and new councilmembers will be sworn in.