City looking into ordinance pertaining to murals


By Kyle Mooty

LPR Editor

An idea for a new mural to be painted in Lockhart prompted the Historical Planning Commission and the Lockhart City Council to look into the city’s ordinance regulations regarding city projects. That’s when it was discovered there was no such ordinance.

Lockhart City Attorney Monte Akers addressed the City Council during the July 19 meeting and noted, “Lockhart nor many cities in Texas have guidelines for murals. Tonight, we’re just asking the council to give us guidance on how you want these guidelines to be formulated.”

Mayor Lew White said his main concern for such mural projects concerned the downtown historic district, adding that the recent mural on the bathroom walls of Lions Park were “fabulous.”

Akers said San Marcos and Austin promote murals, but don’t have much regulation.

“A mural is considered an art,” Akers said. “Art is protected by the first amendment. You get into the difficult position of designing what is and what is not under the First Amendment.

Akers quoted an article that read, “Artwork depicting nudity, violence, or thought-provoking sexual content is protected. Whereas artwork that attempts to portray obscenity, fighting words, incitement is not protected.

“It’s a fine line, a difficult line.”

The Historical Planning Commission had two representatives address the council, Christine Ohlendorf and Ronda Reagan.

“We feel like we didn’t have the rules and regs to make a qualified decision,” Reagan said regarding the latest plan to place a mural downtown. “I think the buildings stand alone and don’t need art on their walls.”

Reagan asked that if a mural is painted on a building that they require a regular maintenance schedule and that the artists be vetted prior to his or her artwork.

Sally Daniel, chair of Keep Lockhart Beautiful and president of the Lockhart Downtown Business Association, said she would hope any mural would be painted as an enhancement for downtown rather than take away from its appeal.

Several councilmembers had comments regarding a ordinance for the murals.

“I think it’s going to be hard to pinpoint what can be done and what can’t be done,” Councilmember Jeffry Michelson said.

Councilmember Brad Westmoreland added, “I would hope people that own buildings in the historic district would use common sense and good taste.”

Councilmember Kara McGregor did not want an ordinance that was too vague.

“I’m uncomfortable with regulating art just on principle,” McGregor said.

In other business:

PHI Air Medical informed the City Council of its cost of just more than $27,000 to cover all residents of the city should they need emergency transportation.

PHI Cares membership would shield residents from financial burdens of being transported via air, including co-pays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses according to James Green, a flight paramedic for PHI in Bastrop County.

“The membership program provides medically necessary emergency transportation, life-saving transport, with more than 60 air medical bases nationwide,” Green said. “PHI has 18 bases in Texas. We operate 365/24/7.”

Green said PHI is negotiating a similar plan with Caldwell County and the City of Luling.

Each base is staffed with pilots, mechanics, flight nurses and paramedics.

“We are pretty much trained in any emergency they can throw at us,” Green said. “Half of the time, when we pick up patients it’s from an ICU to transport to a bigger hospital. On average, there is about one flight emergency per minutes nationwide in our industry.”

A membership includes coverage of any uncovered portions of a bill.

There are 13,744 households in Caldwell County, including 4,503 in Lockhart. It would cover all insured members as well, regardless of their insurance status.

“A patient would receive a statement that shows what it would have cost, and the cost for Lockhart would not even be the cost for one flight,” Green said.

The one-year contract is renewed after each year if the city so chooses.

Even if someone that was not a resident needed transported, they would be unless they asked not to because of costs.

PHI is not affiliated with any hospital. The company also has contracts for Bastrop and Smithville. Elgin decided against it.

The council approved by a 4-1 vote a Zoning Amendment to its Code of Ordinances to require covered parking for detached single-family dwellings, extend covered parking standards to include duplexes, two-unit condominiums, and two-unit townhouses, and making exemption for dwellings constructed on non-conforming lots less than 50-feet wide that were platted prior to April 15, 1990.

“I want to also want to thank (Councilmember Kara McGregor for her diligence on the wording of the new ordinance,” Councilmember Juan Mendoza said.

Candidate filing for city elections will be between Saturday, July 23 and Monday, Aug. 22 for the General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 8. As of last week, seven people has picked up packets for four different seats on the six-member Lockhart City Council, including four in District 2 alone.

The next Movie in the Park will be Disney’s Jungle Cruise on Saturday, Aug. 6. It is free to the public. People are asked to bring their own chairs, snacks, etc.

Poco Loco Market will be going in soon at 1411 South Main Street in Lockhart in a 19,080-square foot facility.

Poco Loco already has a market in Dale, San Marcos, Uhland, and Elgin, with three in Buda and seven in Kyle.

White noted that COVID-19 cases were rising in the area, adding, “We’re still losing people in the workforce to this.”

Also, Councilmember McGregor suggested everyone should “check on their neighbors” with the current heat wave.


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