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Council clears Downtown liquor sales

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

As the entertainment industry continues to burgeon in Downtown Lockhart, the Lockhart City Council has begun to embrace the inevitable.

Despite the existence of an ordinance that prevents alcohol sales within 300 feet of a church or school, the council granted a variance on Monday night that will a

llow a restaurant with on-premises liquor sales in the former Masur Building, on the corner of San Antonio and Church Streets. The request came from Conley Covert of Austin’s Skyles Bayne Real Estate. Covert said his organization hopes to find a tenant for the property that will bring additional entertainment to Lockhart.

“Without being able to offer [the ability for on-premises liquor sales], I don’t know that we’re going to be able to find the right tenant for the property,” Covert said.

The snag, under the existing ordinance, falls in the fact that the building is separated from the First Christian Church (FCC) by fewer than 300 feet. That, however, seems of little concern to the church board.

“We want to make sure that it’s not going to be a bar,” said Heidi Burton, the head of the FCC board. “But we’ve had the chance to talk to Conley, and we’re excited about what they’re proposing for the building.”

FCC Pastor Randy Frye echoed her support, noting that neighboring with a restaurant could not only allow for additional opportunities for Lockhart, but could also open up the prospect of additional visitors coming to worship with First Christian Church on Sunday mornings.

Additionally, downtown property owner Doug Phelan spoke in support of the variance, noting he had the opportunity to visit several downtown eateries and shops during his Tuesday afternoon visit, and expressing excitement about the development of a quality entertainment district in Downtown Lockhart.

With little fanfare apart from assurances that the variance as written will allow for a restaurant that also sells liquor, and not a “bar,” per se, the Council unanimously approved the variance, which should allow Covert to move forward with his plans to secure a tenant for the property.

In other business, the Council discussed, and ultimately approved, an increase to drainage utility fees.

According to City Manager Vance Rodgers, the fees have not been increased for more than 15 years, and the increase is intended to provide additional services to the community.

“We have 100 miles of curbed streets,” Rodgers said. “And we would need one dedicated staff member to operate the street sweeper daily to ensure that every street is swept once a month.”

The city’s budget, however, does not support such a position. Further, the street sweeper is more than 10 years old, and the cost to replace it would be upwards of $150,000.

Instead, Rodgers suggested the City enter a contract with Sweep Across Texas, an Austin street-sweeping contractor, at a rate of $3,120 per month. That cost, he said would be offset by the increase in drainage utility fees, and would allow for all 100 miles of Lockhart streets to be swept at least once per month.

“This way, we can also keep our street sweeper in as good shape as possible, so that we can use it for our special events,” he said. “We need it after all the events on the Square, of course, and naturally we have to use it every Chisholm Trail because of the horses.”

Residential customers will see a 50 cent increase in their drainage utility fee, while commercial customers will see a $2 increase. The increase is expected to generate around $39,000 in revenues, which will cover the monthly cost of the contract.

In brief news:

The council received the state-required Racial Profiling Report from Lockhart Chief of Police Mike Lummus. According to Lummus, the report reflects that the Lockhart Police Departments policies of issuing citations and performing searches as a result of traffic stops, is well in line with state standards.

They approved a contract with Christopher Germer, of Kyle, for the repair and programming of the City of Lockhart’s radios. The contract was necessary, according to Rodgers, because of the recent departure of a Lockhart Fire Department captain who had assumed responsibility for the radio systems.

They approved the re-funding of two bonds, which will amount in savings to the city upwards of $500,000.

The Council also approved the purchase of a city-dedicated cell phone for Mayor Lew White, and any Councilmember who decides, in the future, they need one. The consideration is the result of a recent Open Records Request issued to the city, wherein the requestor asked for White’s cell phone records for the last three years. It has been difficult, White noted, to process the request because of the difficulty in accumulating the records and then differentiating his personal, business and city calls within those records.

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 Complex. The meetings are open to the public and are televised on Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10.


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